I know Friday is usually Top 10 Albums day, but I just posted one the other day, and I've been wanting to do this for a few weeks now. Asura's Wrath is a game I played the demo of before it even came out. I nearly shit my pants from all the awesome, but I didn't have the money to actually buy it, and after a while, I kind of forgot about it. So when Gamefly suggested it to me, I thrust it up to number one on my queue. And I have to say, I'm so glad I did.
As much as I knock on this generation of games, deservedly I might add, and as much as I hate what most of the big companies are doing in gaming today, the likes of Capcom being among the worst, I'm pleasantly astounded that they let this game come out and that they promoted it as much as they did. It's an extremely unique venture in gaming, and I'm glad the creators got pretty much free-reign from such a huge publisher to create an experience you won't find in any other game.
The developers, CyberConnect2 are among the more unheralded in gaming today. Responsible for the "cult classic" .hack game series as well as the acclaimed Naruto fighters, as well as almost completely unknown but fairly praised platformer Tail Concerto, and RPG Solatorobo: Red the Hunter, the former of which I've played and enjoyed. Anyway, they're known for high-action, anime-style games, sort of like a mini-Atlus. In this case, they created one of the most beautiful animes I've ever seen with a deep and inspiring story, and fun, interactive gameplay.
The best summary I've been able to conjure so far is that it's an odd combination of Dragon Ball Z, God of War, and Shadow of the Colossus. In-battle, it's a traditional action-platformer camera, with your character in the middle of all the action, jumping and hacking away at crowds of enemies, with a fairly effective lock-on feature. The boss battle camera angle is similar to their Naruto games, over-the-back, and angled so your character's body doesn't obstruct your view of the environment or your enemy. It's a mix of fast-paced collisions and projectile-firing, mixed in the fray are, don't leave when I say this, quick-time events. The QTE's are actually interesting, they don't make themselves over-complicated, allowing you to enjoy the action itself, but the combinations keep you on your toes enough that you don't end up not interacting at all. I don't love them, but they're done better here than usual. Honestly, the boss battles are more like what Ultimate Tenkaichi should have been.
The graphics are so fucking stunning. It's one of the best looking "animes" I've seen. It's really backed by its over-the-top story and in-game cinematics The first main boss you fight grows to about three or four times the size of the planet you're on, which is clearly modeled after earth. The story is all about betrayal and taking revenge on beings that, at the beginning of your journey, outclass you by leagues. Yeah, it sounds a good bit like God of War, except you were once one of them, and you have actual attachments to all of the major villains. Back to Dragon Ball Z, imagine Goku when he first fights Vegeta, going against a bunch of Super Saiyan 2's and 3's, and even a 4. Yeah, the gap starts that big. But even with the 8-10 hour length, it progresses well, believably n the context of the world, and it's really satisfying to see Asura grow throughout. Great character development, amazing visuals and action, backed by an amazing soundtrack by Chikayo Fukuda make for an amazing and engrossing world and leaves you begging for more, or for an actual anime series.
All in all, there are negatives about this game, but they're miniscule. The QTE's are well-done, but a bit on the heavy side. the battling is fun but one-dimensional control-wise, and it isn't very long. All of those are minor complaints and don't really water down an amazing experience. Asura's Wrath is one of my favorite games of the soon-dead console generation and is definitely worth at least a rental, if not a purchase at its reduced current price.
I'm sorry, but he looks like Marik Ishtar.
He even has his own army of friggin' Steves.
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