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Video game review: 'Anarchy Reigns' another sort-of sequel

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Entertainment,Ryan Vogt,Video Games

If "This is 40" is the sort-of sequel to "Knocked Up," "Anarchy Reigns" is the sort-of sequel to "MadWorld."

"Anarchy Reigns" catches up with the life of Jack Cayman, the hero of the cult Wii beat-'em-up "MadWorld." He may have a double-bladed chain saw and a neck thicker than the Keystone XL pipeline, but these days, he isn't using bad guys as darts on a giant dart board, he's sitting in a sad bar surrounded by dudes calling each other cuss words. Then a Russian cyborg punches him in the stomach, and the story begins.

Like "This is 40" to "Knocked Up," "Anarchy Reigns" doesn't have the same focus as "MadWorld." Yes, it's still a beat-'em-up, like "This is 40" is still a romantic comedy, but "Anarchy Reigns" isn't your typical genre piece, meant to be played alone or with a friend by your side helping you. It's designed to be played online, and not only that, but played online against strangers, not cooperating with them. The game offers deathmatches, last-man-standing fights, capture the flag -- all the standard modes you'd expect from a shooting game -- except you're not shooting people, you're running around punching them and throwing cars at them.

"Anarchy Reigns" is the first game to graft the shooter genre's online-multiplayer template onto the beat-'em-up, and it works better than you'd expect. Good thing, because the game's fundamentals are woefully simplistic.

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'Anarchy Reigns'
» System: PS3, Xbox 360
» Price: $29.95

There are a bunch of great-looking characters to choose from, but their moves are almost identical: hitting the attack button over and over, punching swarms of dudes with hockey masks and flaming baseball bats into liquid oblivion.

"Anarchy Reigns" is priced at half of what most new games cost anymore, perhaps as an acknowledgement that there's not much here. If you're some kind of beat-'em-up historian, though, it might be worth it to see the genre take its first foray into competitive online multiplayer.

rvogt@washingtonexaminer.com

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