Why are you so angry, Asura?
: Getting the chance to interrupt everybody's monologue by punching them in the face.
: Having to sit through cutscenes just for a chance to play for a couple of minutes.
: The whole game is WTF.
When Asura's Wrath
was first announced, I had high hopes for the title. Early trailers showed a brutal and over-the-top brawler that perfectly captured the spirit of Japanese anime. There were crunching body slams, faces being dragged across the ground, and wild, feral combos that blasted enemies all over the place. There was also a colossal Buddhist statue, who coincidently, was attempting to squash the protagonist with its finger from outer space
. All this was shown with dynamic camera angles, jump cuts, and a thumping soundtrack.
It was the most outrageous thing I had seen, and I loved every second of it. I couldn't wait to get my hands on the game.
But sadly, time has not been kind to the title. Things were lost in the cutting room floor and the game was streamlined. Having completed it, I feel a tinge of disappointment and regret. I expected much more, as it had the potential to be a great game.
Spread across eighteen episodes (each complete with intro credits and a next episode preview at the end!), Asura's Wrath is quite a unique experience. As you guide demigod Asura on a quest for revenge and redemption, you realize just how different the game is from all others on the market.
How different? The game, in a attempt to become a truly cinematic experience, has basically turned into one huge QTE (Quick Time Event). By pressing a button (or buttons) displayed on screen, the player can progress through the excellent and engaging story and witness some of the best animation in the industry. Asura will perform amazing feats with courage and strength, defying physics and death itself, and take opponent's apart. Just don't expect to have direct control over it.
Occasionally, the game lets the player partake in other activities. When Asura's not murdering people and surviving the craziest odds, players can enjoy two other gameplay types: a beat-em-up section where players take control of Asura and destroy his enemies, or a on-rails shooter mode where Asura runs or flies towards his opponents as he shoots balls of energy. Neither mode is particularly any good; the fighting is quite repetitive and lackluster, with a limited selection of options and combos to use to take down your enemies; and the shooting is boring as all you do is highlight your enemies with a reticule and alternate between auto-fire and homing energy bullets. Both game-play modes serve no other purpose than to lead into more QTE's, as neither will end until the player fills up a rage meter. Once filled and activated, Asura goes berserk, leading to the game shifting into a playable cinematic once more. Both gameplay modes quickly lose their luster, proving to be more a distraction than a fun implementation.
In another effort to provide variety, the player also gains control of another character during a period of the game. As welcoming as it is (the character has different animations, attacks, bullets, etc.), the addition does little to alter the experience.
Once the game is finished, little remains to keep the player enticed. Chapters can be replayed to obtain a higher score, determined by the accuracy of the QTE's and battle prowess, but there's nothing to look forward to, other than unlocking an alternative eighteenth episode. The extras are also quite thin, with the standard art galleries and character biographies, trailers, and the like. The only worthwhile extra are the unlockable bumpers, which are alternative life-bars that can be chosen to alter the main game's experience. Some make Asura more resistant to damage, others make his rage fill faster. Some achievements/trophies can only be obtained this way.
I'm not saying Asura's Wrath is a bad game. It just could have been better. While the trailers for the game showed a vast range of possibilities for the title, the final product lacked in variety. If the game is taken solely as a cinematic experience, it works quite well. The plot is well done and emotional, and is a spectacle to behold. It's a thrill-ride from start to finish. It's only when looked upon as a whole that it fails and shows what it really is.: A lackluster game with an amazing story.
I guess it depends on what angle it's looked at.
: The game was obtained via rental and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 6 hours of play were devoted to single-player modes (completed once). No multiplayer exists.
: The game is rated T for Teen. It contains Blood, Language, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, and Violence.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
: The game contains subtitles and information prompts. Buttons appear during QTE's as well, so there should be no problem.