Well, here’s a weird thing I’m reviewing. "Asura’s Wrath" is a six- to seven-hour anime movie in which you occasionally play video game portions between film scenes.
The anime looks rad. But the gaming is so terse and simple, a lot of "Asura’s Wrath" feels to me more like a cinema with interactive elements.
The plot is extravagant. Your hero character is a mythological god of war named Asura. He looks like a spiky blond Billy Idol.
You (Asura) and seven other god-of-war buddies are stationed in the skies over Earth to battle an evil-spouting volcano, which takes up about one-fifth of Earth. It’s too big to fail.
Anyway, the other war gods are jackasses. They kill you and your wife, then kidnap your daughter. The gods want to get rid of you, because they have plans for your daughter … oh, I shouldn’t spoil the plot. But it’s a moral tale about absolute power.
Does this sound like the "God of War" series? I mean, Asura is deposed to Hell and Earth with lesser powers, then he must angrily regain his bigger war strength to exact revenge on a Zeus-like main god.
Hmm, that does ring a bell.
However, "God of War" games are much longer, and their incredible action sequences are the best fights in the history of games.
By contrast, the shorter "Asura’s Wrath" resorts to fundamental gaming styles I found intuitive yet boring from start to finish.
Much of "Asura’s" gaming is what we call "quick-time events." As you watch film scenes, sometimes a visual prompt appears on your TV telling you to press the "Y" button. You press "Y," and the film continues.
During more frenetic action, I simply pressed the "Y" or "B" buttons dozens of times in a row to make my character beat up monsters or rival gods of war.
Quite literally, much of my "Asura" experience went like this: "Y" button, "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y," "Y" … and so on.
Why, indeed? My dad, who is no good at video games, could do that, so that’s nice, I guess.
The dialogue can be basic at times, too, including "Arrrggggh!!"
Plus, I watched the "true" ending (you have to unlock it via special achievements, which is a pain) with horror; it is dumb.
The saving grace is the anime. This thing has eye-popping film scenes.
I’m compelled to break down my star rating thus: One star (out of four) for the gaming; three and one-half stars for the anime. I’ll cut "Asura" a break and give it two and one-half stars overall.
But the $60 retail price seems high to me. I think $24 would have been OK (that’s about $4 per hour). By comparison, it took me 48 gaming hours to finish "Mass Effect 3" (that’s $1.25 an hour at $60). Now that’s a game.
("Asura’s Wrath" by Capcom retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 — Plays interesting, like a movie with gaming elements. Looks great. Moderately challenging at best. Rated "T" for blood, language, partial nudity, suggestive themes, use of alcohol, violence. Two and one-half out of four stars.)
Contact Doug Elfman at delfman@ reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.