He’s Angry, You’ll Like Him When He’s Angry

I’d endure her wrath any time.  I’m not even sure that I mean.

I just got done with Capcom’s relatively obscure Asura’s Wrath which came out last year. I mean beaten in a loose sense; after completing the “true” final stage (which is exactly the same as the “fake” one, just with an unplayable one-minute epilogue at the end) you are told to buy some overpriced DLC to see the true ending of the game.  Screw that, I’ll just watch the DLC episodes on YouTube.

Honestly, I’m not sure if it would be a bad thing were Capcom to go out of business at this point.  Between spitting out increasingly mediocre Resident Evil games, assaulting audiences with new editions of games in rapid succession, abusive DLC practices, and draconian DRM, they are such an anti-consumer company that they really ought to pay us to play their games and put up with all the bullshit.

But I digress.  Asura’s Wrath was an okay game.  It’s quick, it’s simple, it’s not that hard (although I did only play it on “normal” difficulty) but it was a worthwhile “gaming” experience.  It provided quite an enjoyable spectacle, especially episode 11.  But is it a game?  At its core, this is no less a game than the Dragon’s Lair series where you need to press a button as indicated on screen as quickly (or rapidly) as possible (these days called quick time event or QTE, a term coined by the game Shenmue on the Dreamcast).  Unlike Dragon’s Lair, this one barely has “fail states” in that missing a button press only impacts your score but barely hinders your ability to proceed.  On a few occasions, interspersed with cinemas, are more action oriented segments akin to brawling in the God of War games. These portions are fairly easy (I only died twice throughout my play through) and are meant to be brief, as dawdling in them too long will severely hurt your score.  You’re just supposed to play them until you can trigger the next cinema.

People complained about the emphasis on these button pressing sequences in the original Uncharted, a failing repeated in the recent Uncharted-inspired Tomb Raider reboot.  The last boss of that game is just a series of directed button presses in order to preserve the movie-like quality of the narrative.  So why do I complain about such a thing in Tomb Raider but give Asura’s Wrath a pass?

The difference is consistency in the gaming experience. 

The endings of Uncharted and Tomb Raider are disappointing because the majority of the gameplay was not driven by these QTEs.  In fact, in Uncharted the majority of QTE segments were there for the player to avoid environmental dangers (collapsing structures or traps) and not for fighting human opponents.  Asura’s Wrath succeeds because it doesn’t use the QTE as a crutch when the developers can’t figure out how to design a compelling boss bottle; it simply used the QTE because it had been doing so all along. 

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