Asura’s Wrath PS3 Review – An Unconventional Potpourri of Anime and Gaming
Genre: Action, Rail Shooter
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: February 21, 2012
ESRB: T – Teen
Capcom and CyberConnect2 combine forces to tell an epic tale of betrayal, vengeance, and wrath through an imaginative mix of Hindu and Asian mythologies and science fiction, with the story presented in the form of an unconventional and undeniably unique experience that is every bit as much cinematic anime as it is video game. Asura’s Wrath is part anime, part brawler, part rail shooter, and part adventure. It is a polarizing, exaggerated game that fuses all of its elements into something hard to define, but ultimately, satisfying to my inner raging demigod.
Presentation is the major selling point of Asura’s Wrath. CyberConnect2 pays homage to classic anime by creating a phenomenal cast of eclectic characters featuring personalities and powers that harken back to an era when we were exposed to such classic anime as Dragon Ball Z, Fist of the North Star, and Ninja Scroll. They crafted a vibrant world featuring jaw-dropping 3D visuals and effects, in both cutscenes and in-game. It will surely be a candidate for best graphics in annual game of the year awards. The attention to detail is astounding. CyberConnect2 even went so far as to employ eyecatches (an illustration used at the beginning and end of commercial breaks in Japanese TV programming, most commonly seen in anime) in the middle of chapters and uses narrated previews between chapters to catch the player up on current events.
Asura’s Wrath is an over the top albeit fairly traditional revenge flick. You take on the role of Asura, one of the original Eight Guardian Generals of Shinkoku. Asura was framed for the Emperor’s death, his wife murdered, his daughter kidnapped by the other seven Guardian Generals and he was defeated and cast out by their leader, Deus. In the underworld known as Naraka, Asura awakens to the voice of a tiny golden spider who urges him on to leave Naraka and exact his vengeance on the now Seven Deities. Think of this as Kill Bill where Asura is the bride, only he is a pissed off demigod who obtains power greater than all of the Seven Deities combined. As the treachery of the Seven Deities real plans unfold throughout the game, you will eventually also gain control of Yasha, Asura’s brother in law, when Asura has become so consumed with anger that he literally burns his own flesh black. Throw in enemies that can grow so large they attack you with fingers the size of the moon or swords that stretch from space to the planet of Gaia for good measure and you’ve got the makings for a good old Dragon Ball Z-style romp.
Much will be said about Asura’s Wrath’s gameplay (or lack of). It is a combination of events designed to move the story along. How the game plays is very much a part of the unique experience. Essentially, each chapter is a movie with brawler or rail shooter events interspersed throughout. The goal is to fill a Burst Meter, which will allow you to rage out on your enemy and progress to the next scene of the chapter. Games have used quick time events for years and have been successful with them, dating back to the granddaddy of them all, Dragon’s Lair. Asura’s Wrath is no different or worse, it just isn’t, nor does it even really try to be, God of War or Darksiders. The emphasis is not so much on the brawling gameplay, but on the interactive cinema. That’s what engages the player to stay involved in the story as you might miss a chance to interact if you aren’t paying attention to the movie. How many games actually give you the chance to interrupt one of the bosses who is occupied in his grandiose scheme speech by punching him in the face?
You will single handedly take on hordes of apes, elephants, and turtles infected by the Gohma, an evil lifeforce dwelling within the planet of Gaia. You will take out fleets of divine spaceships, your old compatriots who have attained godly power in the 12,000 years you’ve been gone, and you’ll even take on a Death Star-like space station powered to wipe out the Gohma presence. The combat and shooter elements are all a means to an end. I was slightly annoyed at having to fight so many apes, elephants, and turtles repeatedly. They just seemed much less interesting than battling any of the bosses.
This game is short and simple. Fill the Burst Meter and engage it. Time your button presses right for a better score at the end of each chapter. That simplicity may be Asura’s Wrath’s primary weakness. The game’s only real challenge comes in the form of achieving S ranks at the end of each chapter. You have to try pretty hard to fail. For the most part, that makes this a roughly five hour one and done game. Sadly, that leaves very little replay value for the full retail price of entry, unless you are a completionist hunting for achievements or trophies. That said, if you don’t get enough S ranks, you might miss out on a very intriguing alternate final chapter and one of the highlights of the entire game.
It is no easy task to characterize Asura’s Wrath. If I had to pick a word to describe it, I think unconventional sums it up best. It is a high quality cinematic anime combined with video game play elements that draws inspiration from a melting pot of cultures. It just isn’t worth the full retail price of admission, but it should not be shamed for what it is. The over the top design, interaction, and story completely overshadows its shortcoming. Without a shadow of a doubt though, I really enjoyed my short time with Asura’s Wrath and with improvements, I would welcome more games like it.
+ Hands down some of the best animated and 3D graphics ever. Contender for visuals awards in 2012
+ Unique and over the top art and character design.
+ CyberConnect2 manages to bring together various mythologies, sci-fi, and anime into a cohesive gaming experience.
- Simplicity and brevity may be too much to overlook
- Gamers might be turned off by the gameplay