As those of you who read our post on How To Ruin A Video Game in Five Simple Steps know, we are big fans of innovation. Asura’s Wrath was a game that had really passed us by – maybe due to the rubbish cover art, or the fact that we were busy preparing for the GamesINC soft launch (national launch coming soon, ladies and gentlemen). So when we read this on IGN: “Asura’s Wrath is not like any game you will ever have played before” – we jumped off our chair, and ordered it, well, from ourselves (there are some real perks to this job!).
At first glance, Asura’s Wrath hits all the right buttons. Completely innovative, tick! Heavily inspired from Anime, tick! Strong story line, tick! Not another shooter, tick! So I volunteered myself to write this blog – justifying some down time from work to play for “research”. And after the first five minutes, I started seriously regretting the decision (Max Payne 3 anyone?).
You start with some incomprehensible scenario of 8 demi-gods fighting some evil spawn, with the evil spawn big daddy emerging from the crust of the earth wiping out a territory the size of India. And the play seemed to be some silly linear flying simulation where the aim is to tap square a lot and then tap the button the screen asks you to, a la God of War.
But boy was I glad I pushed through…
You play Asura, one of the eight demi-gods responsible for protecting the earth from the evil Gohma (still no idea where they come from – it’s the will of the planet apparently). Asura has some serious anger management issues on a good day. So when he is betrayed by his fellow demi-gods, cast to hell for 12,000 years, and bad things happen to his family – well, he develops a lot of wrath: thus the title you see. Asura also has teeth that remind you of a Velociraptor. That doesn’t really impact the story, they just look really odd.
The game is made up of 18 episodes of ten-twenty minutes each (with a hidden one), each set up like Japanese anime episodes – with each ending wanting you to come back for more (think DragonBall Z type structure if you’re not an anime fan). The game is inspired by Asian mythology (Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism to name a few) in a very loose and futuristic kind of way – there is a spaceship-like weapon that looks like a massive Buddha and is named the Brahmastra (ya, exactly!), mantra are the souls of the humans that power the demi-gods, and there’s some demi-god called Sergei who is very very weird. In each episode, there a few minutes of game-play – it really is a fusion of video-game & anime in one.
The graphics and cut scenes are truly astounding – whether it’s Asura fighting a fat guy bigger than the earth, some bearded crazy impaling Asura from the moon through the earth with a rather long sword, or one of the many times Asura decides he needs another 4 arms in his back. The game also includes a lot of fantastic concept art which is unlocked after every mission – which will please fans of the genre no end.
The gameplay in itself is, well, ok. It’s not bad, it’s not great. You fight a limited number of characters – each time you build up fury by repeatedly punching, shooting, or countering enemies. For the bigger enemies, the aim is to build enough fury before you get killed – and the fury will generally unleash a big punch in the face which kills your opponent. It is third person a la God of War (again), you have a limited number of moves, the way the camera pans makes it hard to see where your enemies are, the bosses are all too predictable (I saw 4 GameOver screens during the whole game, and I’m embarrassed I saw as many), and the shooting scenes are just plain silly. Having said that – the fury and the counter-strikes are very enjoyable, and I did enjoy the game play but it is no God of War.
There are other things wrong with the game – the Gohma (the Evils) have a pretty pathetic collection of mutated animals (tortoises, elephants, grouper fish, manta rays, squids, and gorillas – no lions, tigers, panthers?). The game takes place over 12,000 years – but the demi-gods don’t age (ok, they’re allowed too) but neither do their ships, their soldiers, or the villages on earth (still protected by wooden ramparts). Oh, and the game also finishes in six hours…which is probably why I didn’t mind the game play.
But I couldn’t care less. The fusion of gameplay and cut scenes/anime made Asura’s Wrath for me. I love my anime, I love good stories (well, decent stories in this case), I love good cut scenes. And for this – I forgave the slightly boring game play & some of the silly aspects. The whole experience felt like Capcom was trying a new form of entertainment (pushing even further than Unchartered 3’s masterful attempt) which totally engrossed me.
However, this game is not for everyone. If you don’t care about storylines, are non-plussed about cut scenes, want to have an intense shoot ’emup experience or role playing experience, then don’t go near this game – you’ll hate it. If some of the things that make me tick make you tick, then you can’t miss this game.
Oh, and the final thing. You fight Ryu and Akuma from Street Figher in the DLCs – how good it that?
But it’s not cheap – it’s at INR3,299 on both PS3 & Xbox (and the DLC is extra too). We don’t have any pre-owned ones yet – but this is the ideal game to buy & trade back (although you may see one appear on the pre-owned section for PS3 very soon).