Asura’s Wrath – E3 Preview
Asura’s Wrath was the best game of Capcom’s booth at E3, and that’s meaningful since it had some stiff competition. CyberConnect2 has managed to take the best elements of gaming, anime, and pop-culture, mixed in some fresh ideas of their own, dashed it with style and have thus created an adrenaline filled world of epic proportions.
CyberConnect2 and Capcom set good impressions right up front on how big and epic Asura’s Wrath is. Before we even set foot in the building, high above the entrance to the South Hall, we were treated to a gorgeous wall scroll of Asura reminding us that West Hall is where the action will be at.
The first of many striking things about the game is its style. The game has a big budget sci-fi feel crossed with martial arts spectacle. Asura’s character model is stunning. From his etched skin, white massive eyes that rival the “surgical shine job” Richard B. Riddick received on the awesome meter, golden shin guard, knee, hand and arm guards, it’s obvious a lot of care went into the design of the main character. Besides that, Asura just has a “cool” look to him, that 100% translates from the videos we’ve seen thus far. Simply put, if you loved what you’ve seen in print and in video you will fall in love with Asura when you finally play the game.
It doesn’t end with the main character either. The environments and enemies are clear, crisp, and match the over-the-top style of Asura but in much more subtle way. The boss we faced in the demo, Wyzen, is another example of putting you in the world as small cog in a big machine that you’re trying to bring down. Wyzen goes from a semi-dangerous, Buddha type entity, to releasing what he calls his “Mantra Reactor”, which makes him grow to the size of a planet intent on destroying our hero. Even at that size, with his finger hurtling towards Asura while it burns up on re-entry, the animation stays flawless. Impressive for a game that’s still early, and has plenty of development time left.
Even with all of these larger-than-life elements, there’s a moment here and they’re where Asura’s face shows the emotions of someone in his situation: alone, betrayed by his friends, and without his family. This is one of the areas of the game that shines, and is truly brilliant. CyberConnect2 really took a different approach with Asura’s Wrath that works, flows the game’s story, and may just set the bar for how action games should progress. Up until now we’ve seen trailers that always ended with “To be continued…”. Those weren’t just teasers, those were actually episodes within the game. These episodes have been described by the team with a presentation similar to “Lost or 24”, both which are award-winning television shows. Gone are the days where you feel you have to finish up a particular area before going to sleep. The idea of having 30 or 40 minutes to spend progressing in a story you’re drawn into and then stopping at the end of the episode is a refreshing change. In the demo, I was able to play through an episode which wraps up where you are, but agonizingly makes you want to the next chapter.
The control scheme is straight forward but adds a very unique element: the burst meter. For basic controls, Asura has an attack, a heavy attack, a fire type attack (which can be held down for rapid fire), jump button, and a standard health gauge. Things get interesting though with the burst meter. From what I can tell, the focus of the game isn’t about just pounding enemies into the ground, but it’s about building up your burst meter. Once you do this, you can pull of some tremendous attacks that are as flashy as they are effective. For example, when the meter was full, I grew an extra 2 arms, and nothing stood a chance against me—which came extremely handy when Wyzen’s finger was coming straight for my head. Seeing the rapid fire action of the extra arms in action, even while just dispatching enemies, made building the burst meter worthwhile.
One element of the burst meter was able to persuade me to be a believer: quick time events. When you build your burst meter, or through progression to certain events in the game, your put in quick time event situations. The way CyberConnect2 implemented them, and what you do in them (such as returning missile-type projectile back to their origin) are actually enjoyable and break up the game play nicely. Even when the odds are against you, and your enemy is the size of a planet, you never feel like you can’t win. CyberConnect2 has down a perfect job of setting the atmosphere so that you always feel like you can defeat anything. The way the game has been designed, it didn’t feel like anything I’ve ever seen before on the Unreal Engine, and is a testament to its power.
Asura’s Wrath, is fresh, exhilarate, and unique in a sea of “me too” games on the market. It’s epic, it plays out like a Hollywood blockbuster, and has the potential to be the next big star, albeit an unexpected one. The only negative thing I can levy against it is fans won’t get their hands on it until next year. If you’re fan of this genre, or intrigued by the awesome trailers, you owe it to yourself to play Asura’s Wrath when it arrives next year.