Up until now, the benchmark for the angriest game character has to be Kratos. With his snarling and growling, you get the feeling he is never more than ten seconds away from removing a limb or two. However, things are set to change with the introduction of Asura. The protagonist in action/fighting game ‘Asura’s Wrath’, Asura is without doubt the angriest individual I’ve ever come across.[drop2] It’s not without good reason though. Asura used to be one of The Eight Guardian Generals; a group of extremely powerful deities who protected civilisation from an enemy known as ‘The Gohma’. Things go wrong though when the Emperor is murdered, and Asura is blamed. To make matters worse his wife is then killed and daughter kidnapped, before he is banished. Fast forward 12,000 years and Asura wakes to find the remaining seven deities have been “purifying Earth”, which is also known as “killing everyone they can”. Enraged, he heads off to find his daughter and rip the deities to shreds.
Tuffcub went hands on with the game in October 2011 and rather liked it, but the code provided this time around was much more in-depth, spanning several chapters.
One of the first things you’ll notice is how interactive the game is. You can never rest, because on-screen prompts have a habit of popping up at any time, including cutscenes. Your ability to complete these prompts, be it a single button press, or moving both thumb-sticks in different directions, has an effect on the grade you receive at the end of the level.
In terms of the fighting, it’s extremely fast paced. Not only does Asura pack one hell of a punch, he is also able to rapid-fire projectiles. Smaller enemies can normally be defeated by a few swift attacks but the larger ones require Asura to activate his Burst Gauge. This can only happen after Asura gets angry enough (e.g, by beating the living daylights out of enough people), and once activated you are thrown into a quick time event.
Succeed in this quick time event and you’ll perform an Earth shattering attack that will, normally, defeat the enemy. Don’t expect the bosses to be that easy, though. When Asura gets really mad he sprouts a second set of arms, naturally boosting his attack power, and when he gets really, really mad he transforms into…well, that would be telling.
Whilst most of the fighting is enjoyable, I’m still not 100% sold on the constant use of quick time events. An example of this would be when fighting an entire room full of enemies. You’ll be busy trying to beat a certain group, when out of nowhere an enemy will come flying across the room and the triangle button will appear. Manage to press it and you’ll counter this newcomer but it appears for such a brief period of time that by the time you realise what’s happening you’ve been put on your backside. The camera also struggles to keep track of the action sometimes.[drop] What I do like, however, is the visual style, which blends together Asian mythology and Sci-Fi. Seeing ancient deities aboard hulking great battle cruisers with temples on the top makes for interesting viewing and the six chapters I played all had something new to bring to the table.
The boss fights also have the potential to be epic. My favourite so far is a battle on the Moon with Asura’s mentor. Pushed to the limit, the mentor unsheathes his sword and tries to impale Asura, who manages to catch the blade. Then the madness begins, as the blade begins to extend at an alarming rate, with the camera panning back to reveal Asura being pushed from the Moon to the Earth, losing limbs in the process.
When Asura hits the ground he is impaled, but the sword doesn’t stop. The camera once again pulls back to show it piercing through the entire Earth and coming out the other side. Total, utter madness, and I love it. It’s fair to say this will appeal to those who enjoy anime and manga.
With the game’s release in three weeks or so I’m going to end the preview here, as no doubt a full review won’t be too far behind. As it stands the code I played had a few problems, but these were outweighed by the positives. Very interesting indeed.
Asura’s Wrath is set for release in the EU on February 24th for the PS3 and Xbox 360.