Considered Opinion - Asura's Wrath (360)
When considering an approach to a game review, there is one thing which i feel must be avoided at all cost, pandering to preconception. When a game comes baggage'd with a preconception, fueled possibly by inept or ill conceived PR, or simply the ravings of a maddened preview write-up It leaves said reviewer with a dilemma; Do you begin by focusing on this conceit? Dismiss it entirely, that your review gives a better impartial assessment? Or concoct an inane and overly long reflection on the fact that preconceptions make opening a review difficult? Always was a 3rd door man myself.
Which brings us very untidily to "Asuras Wrath" A game that feels like it should be appended with exclamation marks so abundant that the shift key gives way to a string of excitable "1's". If there is no one with you right now, or hilariously if there IS, try shouting the title in your most godly voice, become kratos! Scare the pets! See? its great and that is what playing Asuras wrath is all about, in fact, mash some buttons while yelling and stare at a strobe light and you dont even need the game, or just pop in that old Akira Blu-ray turn off the sound and just growl at the TV.
Oh dear i do seem to have slipped into discussion of that afore mentioned elephant in the room, you see the preconceived notion of this game as "one big cut scene", is not entirely without merit, but the key word there is 'merit'. You see to condemn a game based on a pre-conception is to be closed minded to innovation within the industry, a sin i am loathe to commit myself, i approached AW as such, open to the experience as a whole knowing that i sure wasn't going to get a normal day at the races....
The game casts you in the sizeable and ever adapting bulk of Asura, A Demi-god who has been cast down and lost for 12,000 years as a result of a supposed indiscretion. Without giving too much away, it quickly becomes apparent that you may not be guilty as charged, there is most definitely treachery afoot. Your race of demi-gods having risen in power and stature during your absence also seem to have become a touch power mad. Some plot convenient amnesia means that monsters and gigantic bosses can fill in the blanks, level by level, with overwrought anime style exposition, so expect lengthy monologues by characters who laugh manically and whose eyes widen with surprise as you take them out, a lone drop of sweat paused in flight leaves their defeated brow, you know the sort?
You dont? Well there i think lies the crux of the issue, Asuras wrath isnt really about 'gameplay' its a simple enough game, some tricky boss battles aside that will keep the girlfriend off it, you really wont be testing your reflexes all that often, even missing those ever pervasive button press QTE's results in nothing more harmful than a lower score come the end of the level. Mash a button, make stuff happen, not amazing as gameplay goes but not awful either. No, the key issue with this game is the players grasp and fondness for the stereotypical anime fare. You either love or hate these kind of stories, huge world size bosses impossibly vanquished by, for example, someone getting very very angry. Conversations consisting mostly of enemies giving a monologue explaining how your character is feeling. These Jap/Anime tropes saturate this game and without a fondness for them, what you are left with is one of the ping pong bats that has the ball shamelessly tethered to its surface.
The game is played, for the most part, with you in some degree of control of Asura, either in a 3rd person arena style brawler, where simple combos are used to charge a 'burst' meter which might as well be a 'WIN' meter, as once full the next epic and endlessly entertaining mega-cutscene will engage, propelling you forward through the story, ever accelerating, ever more angry, ever more arms... these concessions to gameplay are merely interludes slowing your traverse across this strange an exhilarating land. They are responsive scenes that for the most part fail to annoy, but this reviewer advises you keep the difficulty on low. Other scenes have you whizzing around in a panzer-dragoon esque shooter mode, again this functions fine and provides some fast paced entertainment, but as i have already intoned, none of these things are a selling point, they do however just about avoid becoming a point of detraction.
Asura's wrath looks great, some of the scenery and spectacle borders on superb, the framerate occasionally stutters in busy scenes, but considering the insanity of most set peices, it's just about forgivable. The controls are responsive, apart from some odd behavious during the "hammer-button-B" sequences. The sound is equally great, booming explosions and some truly rousing music, the japanse take on spaghetti western vibes was particularly fantastic. Voice acting is predictably poor but then isnt that part of the charm. There is no multiplayer and limited replay value as the game is fairly easy throughout, there are power ups, perks, collectibles and the usual extras to unlock but this game will be a 1 time deal for almost all.
Thus at $60/£40 it is tough to argue the value, however you must ask if 6-8 hours of quality anime could be put together for that money? Its doubtful. I don't believe in judging a product based on the perceived means of an audience. If you can only play one game this month, it probably shouldn't be Asura's Wrath, but if you have the time and the cash and a penchant for offbeat japanesery, dont let me talk you out of it! Will be a helluva ride!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111