Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: Asura's Wrath

Capcom’s latest epic, Asura’s Wrath, is a game that’s sure to divide opinion. There will be those who adore its anime-style graphics, engrossing storyline and God of War-fighting mechanic… but conversely there will inevitably be others that question whether a full price release should really offer a bit more gameplay, less narrative and forget its heavy emphasis on quick time events all together. I surprisingly found myself falling into the former camp and think that Capcom have developed a game that is both captivating and well worth playing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of lengthy cut scenes or QTE, and this game has both in abundance. Not only that, but the fighting elements are fairly basic and can get repetitive... but these points aside, I still wanted to keep on playing – and enjoyed the experience wholeheartedly.

Developed by Cyber Connect 2, the game combines Asian mythology and Science Fiction to tell the tale of the titular Asura, a once revered deity who falls on hard times.

We all have bad days but Asura's having an absolute stinker. Following a triumphant return home after a skirmish with the Gohma, he falls from grace rather abruptly after the Emperor is found murdered. Everyone assumes he is responsible and his pleas of innocence fall on deaf ears. Things go from bad to worse when he finds his wife slaughtered, his daughter kidnapped and he is subsequently banished. Ostracised and pretty darn miserable, 12,000 years pass and we take control of our hero as he embarks on an epic quest to save his daughter and crack some skulls in the name of revenge. He’s an angry guy, but fortunately he can channel his rage to take on allcomers.

The game looks fantastic and is split into a series of bite-sized episodes, much like a TV series. Each part opens with credits and a brief animation or some artwork to progress the story. It works really well and develops the plot nicely, encouraging you to play on. Most episodes involve fighting giant apes, elephants and a multitude of other beasts using various attacks, followed by a confrontation with one of the seven deities thrown in for good measure. The size and scale of some of these bad guys is immense; early on, while seemingly on the verge of defeating a rival called Wyzen, he suddenly grows in size to become bigger than the planet itself. You then see him attacking Asura from outerspace, his giant finger piercing the atmosphere to crush our hero like a flea. Despite the odds being against him, Asura is still able to hold his own, however, thanks largely to the ability to sprout six arms and fill a gauge as he gets angrier that unleashes some devastating attacks.

As mentioned above, QTE dominates the proceedings and it does grate a little after a while, making the gameplay seem a little light. A flick of the sticks, a well-timed twist or all-out button mashing is enough to beat the bad guys. Get it right and you’ll be rewarded with a positive rating at the end of the section; a poor performance and your grades will be marked down – possibly incentivizing you to have another attempt and extend the game’s longevity.

It really does feel more like an interactive movie. The sound effects and background music is superb, really adding to the atmosphere and its big screen feel. When not watching the cutscenes, you get to dabble with in some hand to hand combat, which is reminiscent of the God of War series. Occasionally there are also some basic on-rail shooting sections, where you simply have to aim your reticule and press the rapid fire button or unleash a few homing missiles when locked on to your target. Overall, the controls are easy to grasp – a heavy and light attack button, dive and dash attacks, rapid fire and the trigger button when your rage gauge is full.

It’s really not a tough game and it doesn’t last too long. By the time you’ve “played” the first few episodes you’ll have an idea of what’s to come but I found myself keen to fulfil Asura’s destiny. To summarize, this is a good-looking title that’s full of shouting, grimacing, violence and repetition. At full price, you may feel a little shortchanged but find this discounted and you should snap it up as it’s an enjoyable romp.

Reviewed on Xbox 360

  • This review was first published on Check out more news, reviews and articles after the jump.