playstation 3

Games Worth Going Back For: Asura’s Wrath

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Brent Hopkins

In Games Worth Going Back For we look at recent games that you may have skipped that should be picked up sooner rather than later. Today: Asura’s Wrath for the PlayStation 3.

Overview

Asura’s Wrath for the PS3 is an action game made by Capcom that is a completely unique experience. The game plays more like an extended anime episode, with credits rolling with each new chapter and the characters coming off as caricatures of some of your favorite childhood characters. The game is quite fun and is easy to play bit-by-bit to completion. You play the role of the God Asura and set out to get vengeance for the wrongs committed against you. Think Taken the game.

Story

The story of Asura’s Wrath is pretty simple. On a planet similar to Earth called Gaea, an eternal struggle is being fought between eight Buddhist-inspired Gods against the hellish race called Gohma. The Gods and their soldiers are situated in space and the Gohma (led by Vlitra, a massive Gohma that takes up a huge chunk of the planet’s surface each time it spawns) spawn from Gaea itself. After each major battle Vlitra sleeps and gets stronger and the Gods kill the lesser Gohma between each skirmish.

Deus, the leader of the eight Gods, wants to end the struggle once and for all but requires a power source called Mantra, which comes from people’s souls, to strike a massive blow against Vlitra. Small world that Gaea is, Asura’s daughter is a priestess who can manipulate Mantra and empower those she prays for.

Deus, being the upstanding guy he is, kidnaps Asura’s daughter and personally kills Asura. Asura, being known for his rage, actually doesn’t fade away into Mantra, but instead takes hundreds of years to resurrect to get his vengeance. There is friendship, family, and fights throughout and it is just fun to play through. It is a crazy story but really is very simple to follow.

Gameplay

The gameplay is pretty standard beat-em-up fare with a few combos here and there. You don’t really learn new skills or obtain new abilities throughout the game. The fights are all based on a health/damage bar you must fill by hitting your opponent. Once the bar is filled, you are taken to a quick time sequence, where you either defeat the enemy or are taken to the next stage of the fight. If you hate QTEs (quick time events), this game is not for you, as the set pieces are so insane in this game that they are used extensively to allow the player to watch the action like it was an anime.

Like Dragonball Z, Asura unlocks more powerful forms instead of items and abilities, which make him hit harder and move faster. It truly feels like you start as Goku and end up at Super Saiyan 4 by the end of the game.

Capcom also throws in a nice break where you get to play as another god named Yasha. He doesn’t have as many power changes as Asura as he starts out stronger, but he’s extremely fast and a hard hitter. I really loved playing as Yasha and I am glad he is a major part of the game. Oddly, enough, that isn’t my favorite thing about Yasha though but I’ll explain what is later.

Graphics

This game looks relatively good. I found that some of the backgrounds were quite underwhelming but the detail given to the characters really does make you feel like you’re fighting as a god against other gods. If you have played God of War’s epic battles you will get much the same feel.

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A bit sepia toned for my liking

Sound

The sound and music are really nice in this game, but one track in particular stood out for me and that would be, Yasha’s Theme. It fits so well when it is played throughout the game and honestly reminded me of two of my favorite animes from my youth: Cowboy Bebop and Trigun.

Always a perfect kickoff for blowing up beasts and fighting gods.

The rest of the soundtrack gives off the appropriate epicness of playing as a Buddhist god with lots of Eastern flourishes as opposed to the standard classical scores you get from most, “war of the ages” soundtracks.

Overall

This game would not necessarily be worth the full price on release, but now that it has dropped in price I must say I was thoroughly entertained throughout. The characters are over the top, but they are each unique enough to get you some favorites here or there. The fights are extravagant as well and everything is held together well over the eight or nine hour play time. I think most people had an interest in playing a DBZ fight scene in all its grandeur, and this was the first time in my life that feeling was sated. Capcom seemed to have had a completely self-serving time with this game and even included DLC to further the mystique of the world’s best fighters with fights available against Ryu and Akuma from Street Fighter.

Brent Hopkins considers himself jack-o-all-trades and a great listener. Chat with him about his articles or anything in general at brentahopkins@gmail.com.

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Games Worth Going Back For: Journey

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Brent Hopkins

In Games Worth Going Back For we look at recent games that you may have skipped that should be picked up sooner rather than later. Today: Journey for the PlayStation 3.

Overview:

Journey is an indie game that was released exclusively for the PlayStation 3 in 2012. It was developed by Thatgamecompany, which also made two other exclusives for Sony: Flow and Flower.

Thatgamecompany is known for making incredibly atmospheric, short, and graphically intense games with a minimal yet heavy feel. Flow and Flower were two of my favorite games on the PS3, and I was ravenous to get my hands on this game. Those games each took a specific concept and made that the entire focal point of the game. This could run foul for some gamers expecting a meaty epic, but I feel like even for a single playthrough these games will always stick with you for years afterwards.

Sadly, I was unable to play Journey when it was first released, but I picked it up and promised myself I’d play through it this year.

Story

Journey doesn’t necessarily have a strong story tied to it, which is common for Thatgamecompany titles. You are a robed figure that is traversing a ruined city in an attempt to reach the summit of a mountain. Throughout the game you delve deeper and deeper into the city through sand, then water, and finally snow. Hence you are taken on a “journey,” physically as well as through history. The most interesting point for the story is that this is relayed entirely without words. The entire game is nothing but ambient sounds, with even the player character being unable to speak in any real language other than squeaks that blend in seamlessly with the music.

Gameplay

You explore the city through common means of modern-day transportation: walking, flying, and surfing. To advance further in the game, the player must “sing” to activate banners that cause various things to happen to the landscape.

These are simple puzzles and really feel more like an avenue to force the player to take in the sights that the game has hidden for you.

The game is also multiplayer, so you can tackle the puzzles and things with another player. The game doesn’t have lobbies or anything, instead at the beginning of each episode, a player will anonymously join your game and you can choose to stay together or take divergent paths towards the goal. If you complete the stage together you will continue along with one another, but if one finishes and the other doesn’t you will find yourself alone or with a new person to play with at the beginning of the next stage.

The multiplayer aspect of this game is critical to its success. I had a chance to play the first level alone and I was bored to tears by the game. It was not fulfilling in any way, shape, or form, as it really felt like a walking simulation as opposed to a game,

Since there is no communication in the game other than the singing you have to communicate nonverbally. I managed to find another person who wanted to play the entire game through and I found that if I didn’t see him or her on screen I would wait or search for them to make sure they were following along. It was a strong bond but one that was completely unspoken, like that of a friend you haven’t seen in years. This was in stark contrast to the misery I felt when I first loaded up the game. The drop-in/drop-out method of multiplayer here is completely necessary to get the true feel of the game.

Graphics

This game is stunning. There isn’t really much else to say about it, but the snow and sand effects are absolutely breathtaking and it feels like you’re playing through a photo journal at times. Hands down the sand surfing segments alone are worth the price of admission and will have you wanting to play them a few more times after the first.

Turn this on HD and just enjoy.

Sound

The music might actually be better than the graphics, and that is saying quite a bit. The music matches each level perfectly and the sound effects of your robed character meld into the music as if it were your own instrument. The songs are never annoying and set the atmosphere really well.

Overall

Aesthetically pure, aurally fascinating, and fantastic.

This is what it feels like to melt into a game.

This game contains probably two of the best hours you could spend on a console in the past two years and honestly, Thatgamecompany has compiled three games that I would recommend anyone play. If you have any friends with PS3s, buy their collection, which includes Flow, Flower, and Journey and sit down with them and enjoy all three together. If you like games like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, these games are a nice way to hold yourself over while waiting for The Last Guardian‘s release.

Brent Hopkins considers himself jack-o-all-trades and a great listener. Chat with him about his articles or anything in general at brentahopkins@gmail.com.

Image: Thatgamecompany