Written by Craig Will (puffkix) Sunday, 04 March 2012 06:00
Have you ever wished for a more over the top God of War? Or maybe you never had the chance to partake in the GoW series because you never had a Playstation. Either way, Asura’s Wrath is here to fulfill any hole that Kratos just didn’t/couldn’t fill.
It’s not as farfetched as it may seem to compare Capcom’s latest action game to Sony’s Greek epic. Both feature a protagonist with an uncontrollable anger issue, a vendetta against the gods, and a similar storyline chronicling the adventure. The biggest differences between God of War and Asura's Wrath are in level design, setting, and scale. Where God of War had you traipsing around Greek-themed levels, fighting mythical Greek beasts, and rewarding exploration with secrets and collectibles, Asura’s Wrath can almost be described as an on-rails action game embracing Hindu overtones; using terms like Brahmastra, Mantra, Naraka, and even Asura is a Hindu word.
The opening of Asura's Wrath is basically a shmup (shoot-em up – think R-Type) where the player controls Asura’s freefall descent. Using the left stick to “paint” enemies, Asura unleashes his homing projectiles with the Y button, the more enemies locked on the more powerful the attack. Holding down the X button allows for continuous fire. From there the action turns into a quick time event bonanza. In fact, the whole game can be broken down like this: Opening video, a fight to fill Burst Gauge, unleash Burst with RT, QTE to destroy boss and open next area, video, a scmup or fight to fill Burst Gauge, Unleash Burst with RT, QTE to destroy boss, closing video. On top of the formula being pretty simple there is no level exploration (read: on-rails) and the videos are pretty substantial in length which means that each level contains, on average, less than 10 minutes total of interactivity. That’s not completely true; even during cutscenes there is a level of interactivity as the right analog stick controls the camera allowing the player to focus their attention on something other than the speaker. I was hoping this feature would mean that there would be Easter Eggs or just silly things going on in the background that observant players would be able to discover but unless I missed them all there wasn’t anything that I saw fitting that description.
Combat is pretty straight-forward; Press B to attack, Y to heavy attack, A jumps, X shoots, and RB dodges. Things to keep in mind include the fact that after executing a heavy attack Asura will be temporarily overheated, meaning another heavy attack, or special ground attack on downed enemies, cannot be executed unless Unlimited Mode is in effect. The Unlimited gauge fills up the same way the Burst Gauge does: taking and dishing out damage. LT launches Asura into Unlimited Mode where there is no limit to how many times you can press Y.
- Pressing A after being hit results in mid-air recovery
- The best offense against most mini-bosses is to repeatedly jump and attack
- Always pay attention for button prompts on the screen, sometimes you can counterattack by hitting them in time
Earlier I mentioned that Asura’s Wrath was for all intents and purposes a more over the top God of War and I stand by that. Think of some of the biggest battle sequences or set-pieces in GoW where your climbing up the body of a colossal beast or scaling a giant mountain. Now extrapolate that to the point where a boss has been growing every time you defeat them, starting at regular man size, moving to the size of a tall building, and eventually growing larger than the Earth. That happens. Asura’s Wrath seems to be clearly inspired by some of the more action-y anime series out there, featuring ridiculously huge enemies, overtly intense action sequences, and a plot where the solution to everything is to fight. Oh and there’s a talking golden spider that oversees Naraka (Hindu version of Hell).
Not only is Asura's Wrath inspired by anime but by cinema as a whole. The game feels like what would happen if Quentin Terantino wrote a script, started directing it, changed his mind, and called in Michael Bay to finish it. What I’m saying is that the story is set up to be smart and interesting, hanging on dialogue and interactions between characters while the violent bits are almost unsettling, but the execution leaves a bit to be desired, turning art into an orgy of action sequences. And yes, there are explosions. My goodness, there are explosions.
I was originally interested in Asura’s Wrath because I thought controlling the camera during cutscenes was going to add some fun/funny moments to an already interesting looking game. On that front I must say that I’m kind of disappointed. But Capcom makes up for it with a compelling story and accessible gameplay. I can’t even knock the linear level design or how short the levels are because they make this the perfect game for my busy schedule. I think that’s the exact audience that should look into this game: grown gamers with families that want something with bite-sized portions on the console. Others should think hard before putting money down because while the game is fun it is also repetitive with limited gameplay and no exploration.