Hello kids! It’s your good friend The Buch, here to tell you tales of a game you probably played a year or two ago. What can I say: I love to be on the fringe, bringing you the latest game reviews. Next time, I’ll review Halo 3 for you.
I just finished playing Asura’s Wrath for the first time. Why did I wait so long? Well, to be honest, I had read other reviews that gave the game low to middling reviews. So I thought to myself, “Self,” I said, “you may want to wait until this game gets a little cheaper before you go off an’ make an impulse buy.” I listened to myself – as I am wont to do – and waited.
I usually tend to play games for the following reasons: 1) Story; 2) Characters/Acting; 3) Graphics/UI; 4) Gameplay; 5) Challenge. This game followed these measurements in importance almost exactly, so it was a very enjoyable game for me. I can, however, see how it might turn many people off.
The story is your basic action anime plot; Asura is a member of an advanced race and part of an eight-member group of astoundingly strong generals in charge of protecting their world from the evil entity Vlitra and its monster race of ghoma. I’d get into specifics but your head might explode. After a major battle, in which Vlitra is not killed but “stunned” (like a parrot, tired and shagged out after a prolonged squawk), the leader of the eight guardian generals leads a coupe d’état against the emperor. Asura’s wife is killed and his daughter is kidnapped. Asura is, quite literally, thrown from the heavens to his death. Thousands of years later, he awakes from the dead to wreak his vengeance upon those who ruined his life.
All of this is pretty standard fare in terms of Japanese games and/or anime plot lines; there are no character beats or twists that you don’t see coming. The strength of this game comes from the voice acting and the presentation of the numerous battles you fight. Not only is the plot of the game very much like an anime; it also plays like you are watching an anime series. There aren’t levels; there are episodes. There are credit sequences in the opening and closing of the chapters.
One of the oft repeated gripes I hear about this game is, “It’s not a game; it’s an anime where you press buttons.” This is a bit hyperbolic, as there are many instances where you have full control of Asura in various fights and chase sequences. That said, the majority of the game is a series of QTE button sequences. I’d say there is a healthy balance throughout the game but I can see how it would annoy some people. *cough* Jonathan. *cough*
The graphics were acceptable but not all I’d hoped for. The game runs in 720p and the graphics are most certainly current-gen but it’s not the kind of game you’d use to show off your system. There were many, many instances of screen tearing in the more action-packed scenes. Quite a few issues with textures popping in a few seconds after the scene had loaded. It could be that taking up PC gaming has spoiled me a bit (it has) but I still have played much better looking games on the PS3. Personally, I’d absolutely LOVE to see this game running in full 1080p on a high powered machine; it had a lot of ambition that they just weren’t able to pull off.
Here’s a quick list of other compliments/gripes about my experience with this game:
- I played this game in Japanese with English subtitles. I’m not absolutely sure if Capcom produced this game entirely in English originally (as they’ve done with a number of the Resident Evil games) but you could easily tell the Japanese voice acting was not matching the lip sync at all; it was quite clear the lip syncing was matched to the English dub. A minor annoyance but an annoyance none the less.
- There are a lot of “Holy crap, that’s cool looking” moments but there are so many that it starts to lose its novelty about halfway through the game. Once you see a guy transform into a giant space buddha that’s twice the size of the entire planet and Asura PUNCHES HIS FINGER SO HARD HE DIES, it’s all kind of downhill from there.
- The QTE sequences didn’t really bother me that much. Some seemed superfluous (really? I have to push up to get up off the ground?) but a majority of them made me feel like I did have an input in the on-screen action, particularly during the massive battles/fights.
- The characterizations, while some being very tired character types, all worked within the realm of the story and really added to the anime feel of the game.
In terms of a rating, this is a bit of a hard one. If you’re someone like me, who likes anime and is a bit forgiving on gameplay vs. story, I’d feel safe to recommend buying it but not at full price. This is a fun game, to be sure, but if I had paid a full $60 for this game, I would have felt a bit cheated. The storyline itself is only about 8-10 hours and, while there are some trophies to earn, the replay value depends purely on your desire to experience the story. There is some DLC to download with extra episodes/chapters which might extend your playing time.
If you’re someone who’s not like me, I’d suggest at least renting it. It pains me to say, because I’d love for everyone to like this game, but it you’re not already into action anime or manga or games in a similar milieu, Asura’s Wrath probably won’t be the best entry point for you. If you have no interest in playing for story, or are looking for a game with exciting and challenging gameplay, avoid it altogether.
The Buch’s Rating: Rent it