E3: Asura's Wrath
It's over the top and ridiculous, but this game should not be missed.
The word that Capcom wants you to associate with action title Asura's Wrath is "different," and while that certainly is applicable, it's far more likely that you'll think of it as "holy crap did that actually just happen freakin' amazing." Which is admittedly a lot longer to say, but comes closer to expressing what it's like to play the game.
Demigod Asura has returned after being dead for 12,000 years and is looking to exact brutal vengeance on the peers who betrayed him and left him to rot. A pure and hateful anger burns deep within him and it simply will not be denied. Asura's Wrath blends elements from Southern Asian mythology and science fiction, which is why Asura sports cybernetic arms as he faces off against Wyzen in the demo I played today. Wyzen is one of those responsible for betraying Asura, but he's not particularly remorseful about it. He mocks Asura's rage, his rotund belly and curly beard shaking with mirth. The art style of Asura's Wrath looks almost hand drawn, a mishmash of cel-shading, thick lines and anime-style exaggeration that's exotic and surreal without being absurd. The characters and environments look like they were pulled from an ancient book of legends.
The game is a pure action title, with relentless, nonstop gameplay that constantly surprises you. The fight with Wyzen begins in a pretty straightforward manner - he shoots missiles at you, which you can catch and throw back at him. After you've beaten him up for a while, he grows until he's the size of a mountain, shooting an entire barrage of missiles at you, which you must dodge as you run towards him. Once you get close enough, he leaps into the air, crosses his legs, and drives you into the ground by sitting on you. It's a move that should be hilarious - you are stuck under a giant's butt, after all - but instead it just emphasizes the brutality of the game's combat. Crushing you into the ground isn't enough, so Wyzen gets up and begins punching you over and over, further into the ground, to make absolutely sure you get the point that he is mighty and you are a bug.
And suddenly Asura has six arms. What the hell?
That's the kind of curveball that Asura's Wrath likes to throw, changing up the rules without warning, but doing it in a way that keeps the action interesting and fun. I had to pound on the B button to push Wyzen's hand away, and appreciated the meter at the top of the screen that let me know how close I was to success. Once I was out of the ground, it was time to take on the spaceship.
I strafed along the side of the ship by holding down X and using the left stick to move my target reticule, though I could also catch missiles and shoot them back at the ship, too. Once the ship was destroyed, I threw Wyzen into space, where he got really angry and grew big enough to pick up the entire planet with his bare hands. When you're that big, you can do some serious damage with a single finger, which he used to try and squish me. Pounding B again, I used all six arms to send a shockwave up his finger, to his arm until he finally exploded.
Not that it killed him, of course. He is a demigod, after all. It didn't kill me either, just blew off both my arms.
Asura's Wrath makes all other action games seem puny by comparison. It's so over the top, it's impossible to guess what might happen next. I only got to see a boss fight, so I don't know what the rest of the game will be like, but I'm not sure it even matters. It could be a lawn mowing sim, and it would still be worth it to get to experience the insane boss fights the game has to offer. It might sound like a game that's weird for the sake of being weird, but everything in Asura's Wrath makes sense within the world the game creates. If you enjoy action titles - the God of Wars and Devil May Crys of the world, you're going to want to know more about this game. Do not ignore it.
It's inventive, surprising, impressive, and good-looking. I can't wait to play more of it when it comes out for Xbox 360 and PS3 next year.
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