Don't poke Asura with a stick.
Capcom and CyberConnect2 probably don't like their upcoming Asura's Wrath being compared to God of War, but all I could think about in the back of my mind while playing the game (and while sitting in a featuring CyberConnect 2 CEO Hiroshi Matsuyama as expressively excited as a Japanese game show host) was a screaming match between Asura and Kratos. Just imagine the tornado of fury and spit spewing forth from their mouths. Because if you do, Asura would win. Why? Because he's actually angrier.
Blessed with the power of a demigod, Asura is one of the eight deity generals sworn to protect the human race from the Goma, enemies in the form of animal spirits (perhaps inspired by Shinto) with black skin and red veins all over their skin. However, in what wouldn't surprise Darksiders' main character War, Asura is framed for the murder of the emperor by another deity general named Deus, who seeks power and glory, as gods are wont to do. Asura's wife is murdered, his daughter is captured, he is stripped of all his powers, and he's banished from Earth. Even the Count of Monte Cristo would say, "That sucks."
So begins Asura's quest to rescue his daughter and exact revenge with as much rampage as possible. It remains unknown whether the other seven deities truly believe that Asura is a traitor or if they doubt the ascension of Deus, but if the two boss battles that were available for demo are any indication, they haven't put much thought into it. Thousands of years later, Deus awakes from his slumber only to find that his once compatriots still want to tear him apart. Many of them have abandoned their mission of saving the human race, going as far as wanting to destroy them in the name of purification or whatever other reasons gods conceive to justify genocide. You know, just in case Asura needs another excuse to hurt everything in his path.
(I also didn't see any trees in the game. The gods must have killed them. How dare they?! Grr…)
Luckily for Asura, he gets stronger the more furious he becomes. His chrome-like body and godly strength, which makes him look like an Asian version of X-Men's Colossus, allow him to pummel his foes like ragdolls. A series of light attacks become easy combos and a devastating heavy attack can be used once the red ring above his head disappears. With jump attacks, chase sequences, quick-time events, jump recoveries, diving attacks, and the ability to shoot energy blasts (I assume) from Asura's arms, the action never lets up and there is rarely a chance to take a breath.
Punches to the face are accentuated in slow motion and hits usually have Dragon Ball Z impact, all while waves of lightning and blood-red energy bursts smear the scarred rocky landscapes. Boss battles tend to be split into multiple phases, each one challenging you to fill Asura's Burst meter by successfully hitting the opponent before unleashing it all in a damaging Burst attack.
If that weren't enough, Asura can go into Unlimited Mode once the corrresponding meter is full and just slam heavy attacks without having to wait for a recharge. And then on top of that, he can sprout multiple arms when he's enraged even further in specific boss fights. Even when his arms are ripped off, he'll just power through enemies with his feet, knees, and head. If Kratos had no arms, he would just mince his teeth, growl, and die in a pool of his own "I'm not as badass" blood.
Asura's Wrath erupts first in North America on February 21st, 2012.