Asura's Wrath Preview (Xbox360)

After CyberConnect2 released a demo a few weeks back, the early chatter around Asura's Wrath has been completely divisive. It's one of those rare games that places precedence on storytelling, happily pushing expansive gameplay away without so much of a second thought. We sat down to take a final look at the title before release, and it's certainly a mixed bag.

Heavily influenced by Japanese animé and manga, CyberConnect2 have always managed to craft a title that effortlessly flaunts beauty. The Naruto series is testimony of this, offering players an interactive experience that excels on hand-drawn artwork and a meticulously reproduced graphical design. Asura's Wrath is no different, immediately emitting a colour palette that most games would be jealous of.

As one of eight gods, Azura must tackle the threat of an incoming group known as the Gohma. His enemies come in all shapes and sizes, resulting in some truly epic battles. Those who have played the demo will know that a large amount of combat takes place through quick-time-events, allowing a cinematic style to take greater prominence. In the encounters we experienced, groups of crimson-tinted gorillas tried to overpower Azura, all within the confines of a tiny arena. These sections had greater interactivity, as players take control of Azura in a traditional hack 'n slash style. Melee attacks amount to a pummelling from the fists, while the long range technique allows rapid-fire bullets to spray across screen. It's a simple set-up, and in its current form, massively repetitive. Hopefully Asura's arsenal continues to grow throughout the rest of the game, or else this is an extremely limited way to dispatch some interestingly designed enemies.

It's worth noting that at this point, noticeable slowdown was a persistent problem when large groups of foes covered the screen. This is most probably due to the unfinished code, and we expect this to be ironed out for release. After the smaller opponents have hit the deck, Asura typically has something bigger coming his way. We've seen elephants who could crush a city with one step, tortoises the size of a football stadium, and a host of other juggernauts that dramatically overshadow the white-eyed protagonist. This being a title influenced by manga, the hero always has a way out of such a difficult situation. After doing enough damage to a boss, the opportunity to 'Burst' will arise on screen. Here, the QTE is deployed, allowing for a cut-scene that is defined through beautiful animation and, if you time your button press well, some major damage. Fans of Japanese animé will feel instantly at home, as each QTE provides some thrilling action. That said, don't come here expecting to be in total control. CyberConnect2 will place you on a path, and there's no deviating away from it.

In terms of narrative, Azura's Wrath looks set to deliver something quite unique. The story is broken up into short episodes, many of which last no longer than half an hour. Plenty of recaps help bring things together amidst some confusion, and hand-drawn loading screens provide an extra smidgen of context. At this stage, it looks like a thought-provoking tale. Azura struggles to understand his own power, and this is something that trickles down to his family life. He strives for the protection of his daughter, but as you can imagine, things don't always go to plan. We're looking forward to experiencing the entire narrative, and are intrigued by the decision to deliver it via an episodic format.

As CyberConnect2 gear up for release, it's clear there's a small amount of work to be done on Asura's Wrath. It's looking to be a delightfully original tale that has animé and manga fans firmly in mind. The importance of this title's narrative shouldn't be understated, as those hunting large amounts of combat will be disappointed. With only a few weeks until release, there doesn't seem too much to get angry about here.

Top Gaming Moment: The narrative is particularly interesting, and looks to overshadow the combat.


By hunter612 (SI Core) on Feb 01, 2012
Quite interesting...I wonder if I can get to play this when it releases.
By hiraowdvoj11 (SI Newbie) on Feb 07, 2012
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