Game Reviews Xbox 360 Asura's Wrath

Asura's Wrath Steven McGehee Hot

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Written by Steven McGehee     February 27, 2012    
 
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Release Date
February 21, 2012
MSRP $
59.99
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Capcom and CyberConnect2 bring us Asura's Wrath, a new third person anime-inspired action title. Take control of Asura (and his wrath!), one of the eight guardian generals (demigods actually) who fight to protect Shinkoku on the planet Gaea from ever-present scourge of the Gohma, a dark species that has plagued Gaea and its inhabitants for millennia.

The story begins with the Shinkoku people and the generals assaulting the Gohma in hopes to permanently destroy them. Vlitra is the ultimate source of the Gohma and it is incredibly powerful. In fact, it cannot be destroyed, just contained until it awakens again, with renewed strength. The opening mission sees Asura using his ranged attacks to fight back Vlitra into submission.

Apocalypse averted for the time being, the Generals rest, but Deus schemes against Asura and his daughter, a powerful priestess who has control over a mystical force known as Mantra. Without trying to say too much, Asura's daughter is kidnapped and he is targeted by everyone as a traitor. Killed, Asura is dead to the world for some 12,000 years. Meanwhile, Deus and his cohorts have been ruling the world with deception and death, and the once beautiful Gaea is a shell of its former self. When he awakens and begins to remember everything, Asura is enraged and who is hell-bent on rescuing his daughter and exacting his revenge on his former comrades.

Asura-1

Asura's Wrath is a beautiful thing to behold, and control. The game has a distinct anime inspired look and feel to it, and it works. CyberConnect2 has a lot of experience in this arena and it's put to good use. Gameplay is mostly familiar to anyone who plays third person action-adventure games, although Asura's is definitely more on-rails that most third person action games. There are no alternate paths or collectibles, no NPCs to talk to, nor side quests or puzzles, or XP system. No new weapons or combos are unlocked either; frankly there are practically no tangents of any kind. It's all forward progress, meant to get you to the next phase of the story. Checkpoints are similarly placed so that should you die (likely to be pretty rare), you aren't going to be set far back at all.

The story and characters of Asura's Wrath definitely take center stage; at times I felt disconnected from the experience due to the amount of quick-time events, cutscenes, and on-railsness there was. Playable segments allow for a modest amount of free-form combat, but your ultimate goal is to just fill up a meter and Burst. As you fight, a meter below your health bar fills up, and when it's full, you know you have completed this battle because you just have to press RT that sets up the cutscene ending for the battle or boss fight. Up to that point, you are using a range attack (X), strong attack (Y, with cool-down mechanic), and standard attack (B). Asura can't block, but you can (and should) recover while in air, which keeps you from losing the full amount of health. Asura is able to lock-on with LT, useful for airborne foes and also to keep tabs on certain enemies in the area, as you are often put up against a few tough enemies and lots of weaker ones.

Asura-2

Within the free-flowing combat are parry-style QTE that pop up now and again that allows Asura to catch and throw back large objects and to counter incoming attacks. These QTE are more sensitive, both in terms of time and what you press, than the story-driven QTE which are much more common. This is the type of game where you don't have to hit all of the QTEs to succeed, you're able to miss a few. The only ones you're likely to miss however are those that pop up in the middle of a cutscene, if say you set your controller down while watching. These and others are very forgiving though, in terms of the allotted time you are given to perform them.

Several areas put you in a rails shooting situation as well. Asura will either be diving from space, on a vehicle, or holding his ground against airborne threats. These shooting sequences are welcomed, even though they too are limited in terms of what the player can really do here.

Together, a lot of these gameplay elements made me feel like I was playing through a movie rather than partaking a whole lot, or at least as much as I normally do. I also wasn't used to this "narrow" level design too, where you literally just can't explore the area at all and the design is exclusively "forward-facing" to keep you moving. Despite all that, most of my eight or so hours playing through Asura's Wrath felt very much involved and fun. CyberConnect2 did a great job of presenting Asura's rage -- and his other emotions, but yes, mostly rage -- via excellent art and sound. I felt connected with Asura within the first hour and mostly the whole way through.

 

Asura-3


I played through with Japanese audio enabled which made it all the more authentic and powerful to me. This is some of the best voice acting I have heard in a long time. The sheer scale of what Asura encounters -- from pushing back Wyzen's moon-sized finger as we saw in the demo -- to the massive Star Wars scale battles -- are a real treat to experience. I haven't witnessed, much less controlled, this much angst since Kratos. Asura is actually far more PO'ed than Kratos. It's possible his ever-increasing rage might wear you out if you play this game in just one or two sittings, and CyberConnect2 was conscious of that. The scale and "epicness" of the story and battles continually gets larger and larger too, even after starting off on such a grand scale, that it almost gets repetitive as well. But, just when you think you have had too much, CyberConnect2 changes things up in a very cool way.

To the summary...

Editor reviews

Ultimately while this theme of epic revenge may ring familiar, CyberConnect2 has done an excellent job with their specific story details and in how they present it. Asura's Wrath is maybe just a little bit too hands off for my tastes, but I had an absolute blast from start to finish.
Overall rating 
 
8.6
Gameplay 
 
8.0
Presentation 
 
9.0
Value  
 
9.0
Fun Factor 
 
8.0
Tilt 
 
9.0
Steven McGehee Reviewed by Steven McGehee February 27, 2012
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (896)

Asura's Wrath

Ultimately while this theme of epic revenge may ring familiar, CyberConnect2 has done an excellent job with their specific story details and in how they present it. Asura's Wrath is maybe just a little bit too hands off for my tastes, but I had an absolute blast from start to finish.

Videogames

Gameplay
Great story and characters, despite a typical theme. Combat is good, but largely on rails and gameplay as a whole is unusually narrow in terms of a lack of upgrades and unlocks and NPC interactions, etc.. On the other hand, the story and its telling are very well done and I really liked all of the characters and became invested in Asura and Yasha, and the overall dilemma between Asura and Deus.
Presentation
Smooth anime-style animation that looks good and fit the atmosphere perfectly. Asura's rage is presented wonderfully. The grand scale of the story and its interesting characters is really brought to life by the solid animation and voice-acting.
Value
I hope this is the start of a new series for Capcom and CyberConnect2. It took me about 8.5 hours on Normal to beat it, and much of that time was watching or reading cutscenes. There's not a whole lot of reason to go back short of trying to get S ranks on all of the episodes (eighteen of those), which doesn't interest me. Still, while shorter than the typical third person action game, it was very satisfying and fun. I spent little to no time reloading checkpoints or back-tracking, and that to me is worth something.
Fun Factor
I had a great time playing through Asura's Wrath. Again it's a little bit too hands-off for me (see review), but overall I can't say that I didn't have a really fun time.
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