Most games are pretty easy to pick up for 15 minutes to an hour and determine whether or not you're going to like it. Asura's Wrath is not that game. It took the entire play through, from opening credits to ending credits, to determine just how much I could appreciate what this game was.
Asura's Wrath is labeled as an action game, though it's more of an interactive story. The story loosely follows Hindu mythology and follows Asura and his quest for vengeance against the fellow people he used to to fight along side. The story has been told before, especially in this medium, but not with as much detail as in this game.
The graphics are amazing. The cell shaded coloring for the character models adds a down to earth touch and adds some distinguishing style perks that set it aside from all the other action games. The modeling between the divine entities (including Asura) as mechanical beings, the modeling of the enemies as animals and humans as being plain and boring adds some nice diversity to the eye candy. The music is a strong score that adds seriousness and emotion to every scene of the game.
However, this is where my compliments start to dwindle. The presentation of the game is in that of an anime series, with each episode essentially being a chapter in the game. Each episode starts with opening credits and ends with credits. There is also a "commercial break" in the middle of each episode. All of this isn't terrible, and I see completely the style the studio is attempting to emulate, however it feels very cumbersome and in the way. There are better ways to keep this style, but utilize it to benefit the game (such as digital release episodically, like an actual show. This could easily be done by collating all the episodes into the three acts that make up the game).
While watching, the player has to be on his/her toes, for each cutscene, regardless of length, has some form of Quick Time Event. However, while the events tend to not vary too much, with the Triangle button being used for almost every single button event in the first chapter. After a while the game adds a little bit of variety, but the full extent isn't even realized until the final boss battle (and by then the Quick Time Events are almost too quick to react to them).
The combat within the game, though is very weak. The player uses Circle to light attack, Triangle for a special attack and to counter and to interact with fallen enemies. The Square button is used for a long range attack, however it is not directed (even while an enemy is targeted) but instead fires straight ahead of Asura. If the player holds down Square, the game goes into an aiming mode in which Asura does not move while shooting. There is no block, but there is a dodge roll mapped to the Right Joystick. Over all, the combat seems very out dated, which is never good for an action game.
Despite the downsides, Asura's Wrath is fun, and it's unfortunate that Asura's Wrath was marketed as a $60 game where no one will buy it. The ultimate experience has a special type of pay off, one that is not completely understandable until it is completed and one that not every game can bring.
7.0 out of 10
Interesting Sites:Wiki Page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asura%27s_Wrath
Official Wikia Page: http://asuraswrath.wikia.com/wiki/Asura%27s_Wrath_Wiki
IGN Review: http://ps3.ign.com/articles/121/1218975p1.html