Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: Asura's Wrath

One of the Eight Guardian Generals that protect Earth from the evil Gohma, Asura is set up by his fellow generals as the scape goat for a rebellion against their Emperor. Accused of murdering their Emperor, having his wife butchered, his daughter kidnapped into service of this new regime and finally killed by the new leader Deus....this seems like the end of the story of Asura. It isn't because rage doesn't die.

After a 12,000 year slumber in the netherworld Asura awakens to find the world is much different than how he left it. His betrayers and former comrades, now known as 'The Seven Deities', now rule over Earth and use mankind to and their faith to fuel their war against the Gohma threat. At first this means little to Asura as vengeance is all that is on his mind but as the story progresses Asura begins to fight for more than just revenge, more than to save his daughter from slavery.....he's fighting to save all of mankind.

BTW...this is the Gohma threat. Yes that thing is bursting out from Earth

I have to give this game credit. I was just looking for a brainless, over the top brawler to pass the time with. Instead I ended up coming into contact with a exceptionally original title, with a well written story that blends Asian and Hindu mythology merged with a sci-fi bend. I really didn't expect myself to actually care long enough about the characters to want to pay attention to their plights but I did.

Asura incognito

Asura isn't just a screaming bag of rage. He's actually a somewhat complex character that you slowly discover over the course of the game. He isn't just a tool of destruction, though he is very well versed in that art form, he is a conflicted character. A man who lost everything and with dealing with his losses shoulders a greater responsibility of saving the world and bringing peace. He's not the only character you feel for. Obviously you feel for Mithra, Asura's daughter who is imprisoned and forced to aid Deus, but you also feel for Asura's eternal rival and brother of Asura's wife, Yasha. He was with the rebellion. He saw all that was done. He knows his sister was murdered, his niece captured, he watched his world suffer for 12,000 years. He's just as conflicted as our main protagonist.

Now past the story I need to comment on the art style of this game. It is another title using the Unreal 3 engine but I'll be damned if it looks anything like ANYTHING else done with this graphics engine. All the characters, the towns, monsters, everything has a look like it was made from a wood carving. You see the wood grain effect in everything. It gives the game a very old look to it and it strangely merges well with the games more futuristic sci-fi look.

I also thought the voice acting was decent. All the characters sounded distinct and had their own personalities. The music was nice and dramatic when appropriate. The sound effects were really nice and meaty especially for the impacts of heavy hits and burst attacks. Those sounds helped give the epic, and I mean EPIC, battles more weight.

And they are EPIC battles. Asura is going toe to toe with other deities so it needs to be impressive. I'll show you an example.

This is one of the first major battles Asura has after awakening after 12,000 years. This is Wyzen in his 'true form'. Yes he is bigger than the planet. get to fight him. is so cool getting to this point!

Another thing I want to address about this game is that it is set up to look and act like an interactive anime. At the start of each chapter you get a small set of credits, you also get a recap of what happened and what is coming up just like an anime series. I actually found this episodic approach quite refreshing to the usual beat 'em up fare that just throws you into the next level.

A point of contention for some people with be the quite liberal use of Quick Time Events through out the game. So liberal that they are a core element to the game play. I know a lot of folk are turned off by this, and I generally despise them too, but I felt 'right' with Asura's Wrath. It helped keep the frenetic anime style mega battles flowing nicely and was a nice change up from the standard combat in this game.

That segways into my least favorite part of the game, the 'regular' combat. It was pretty boring with you alternating between standard and strong attacks. Against one or two opponents it isn't too bad but when you are fighting 7-10 at a time, even with a 'lock on feature', it became muddled and confusing. Also the camera will fight with you during those larger battles with multiple opponents so you can't spot all the incoming attacks and thus can't counter effectively. Sound effects will also repeat ad nauseum with the same yells, grunts and screams from Asura being used quite often. Minor gripes but it didn't diminish my fun.

Its a gross understatement to say that I liked this game. I thoroughly loved this game. The amount of character this game has is enormous and makes me like this game universe oh so much. I like it to the point that I downloaded the first of a few DLC's coming out for the game. The first is a fully hand drawn animated interactive cut scene that bridges the gap between Chapters 11 and 12. It was just awesome. By the end of April they are adding four more chapters to the story (for reasons I can't say unless I spoil the game's finale). And they are having Asura go head to head with some of Capcom's other greatest fighters in the world...

Yes...this is not an April Fool's joke....this is happening!

Even without any DLC the Asura's Wrath experience is one to not be missed. Buy it and enjoy the ride!