Anarchy Reigns

Anarchy in the UK.

Sat in the railway-arched underbelly of a London club, we're watching a post-game demonstration of kick-boxing proficiency. One of the athletes has just mistimed his vertical leap out of the ring and hit the side-decking - specifically, he's landed directly on a point somewhere between his eye-socket and his cheekbone. Not everyone in the audience caught this moment, but those who did have assumed a collective wince.

After a few dazed moments he looks around, takes his bow with the rest of the martial arts team, and the crowd goes wild. We're at a European press event, so this of course translates into an unusually heartfelt smattering of polite applause, and a show of respect for the photography rules.

Bruised but undaunted, he'd no doubt feel right at home in the world of Anarchy Reigns, the next release in Platinum Games' series of SEGA fighters, looking to ride high on the success of the award-winning Bayonetta.

Set in a Fallout-esque, apocalyptic wreckage of a city, the game is a sandbox environment for a brawler focused on team mentality every bit as much as the traditional, one-on-one duel to the death.

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Action Trigger Events add a unique layer of unpredictability to the brawler action.

Into this world are poured a collection of heavily modified super-humans who have embraced nanotechnology in order to enhance their bodies and bring new twists to the merry tale of indiscriminate tag-team slaughter. While some have a heavily mechanised feel - with weaponry that reflects the style - others take a more athletic, superhero approach to combat.

At this stage in development, motivation and back-story remain firmly under wraps, although this is likely to be mere icing on the cake given the action at hand. It's already clear that Platinum has seized the opportunity to create a diverse bunch of devils to experiment with.

It's also a chance to bring back some favourites of fans and developers alike. Jack Cayman of MadWorld notoriety makes a show-stealing appearance with a finishing move that sees his twin chainsaws slice an opponent vertically from the head down. Ripping up the asphalt like an elephant trampling across autumn leaves, he represents the melee powerhouse.

Matilda also returns, complete with eye-gouging bust and the kind of high-haunched female ass that only a videogame developer can get away with. Her weapon of choice is the Iron Maiden, a spiked barbarian's club that bristles with purple energy.

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The explosive events take nothing away from the game's performance.

Last but not least, we're given a preview of everybody's favourite pimp, Black Baron. A cocksure brawler at heart, he delivers his lines with a swagger and his combat via the Super Sexy Fists of Fire. No really.

There are other, yet to be revealed, combatants. When you're not busy ripping each other's hearts out, characters will assume a complimentary role with each other, a symbiotic way of playing co-operatively. Ensuring each character has their own strengths and weaknesses within a unique fighting style is a key part of the balancing act.

Cooperating with others to counter your own weaknesses is essential in both team-based multiplayer and cooperative AI combat. A particularly large target, for example, may prove easier to break down with an initial combo flurry from your speed-based fighter before your oafish, towering friend finishes off the job.

There is also a complete single-player component, although details are thin on the ground. PlatinumGames producer Atsushi Inaba explains: "First of all, there's the story mode, which should be very entertaining. Also, you can basically play the online mode but versus AI. Even if you're on your own you get to have the best of both worlds."

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