Count me in the quiet minority/majority that appreciates Halo’s architecture and design but isn’t gonzo about the lore or the book stuff. I maintain that Halo is probably the best realized “Dudes shooting Aliens” genre, if that is in fact a discrete genre. Large Audrey II plant creature aside, I’ve always appreciated Bungie’s knack for weaving in environmental commentary from the rank and file in a seamless way. I remember several points in Combat Evolved where the Chief walked into a group of marines only to have a hush fall over the chattering crowd, with little cries of delight here and there from the troops along the lines of “Oh man oh man, the Chief is here! Now we’re gonna get out of this jam for sure!” Regardless of how you feel about the lore, it makes you feel cool to stomp around as a spartan.
Most of Halo’s stuff is, frankly, kinda silly — but that’s OK. It’s silly in a kind of beautiful colorful way where guns actually shoot glowing pink barbie colored crystals and make pew pew noises, and grunts run around squealing incoherently at the slightest provocation. I don’t have any emotional investment in it, and I surely don’t care about whatever Bill Gates called “the latest in Next Generation Storytelling” (giggle) but walking around Under Cover Of Night with some smoky O’Donnell sax and synth augmenting the glowing GI Joe green screen on my sniper rifle’s display? Yeah, it’s good stuff.
It has not been mentioned yet on this board, but anybody interested in something different — and I mean REALLY different — should really check out Asura’s Wrath. I have been playing it in little bits and pieces on Monday evenings with a friend of mine who comes over to watch the latest in Weird Games on my big TV. Those who described the game largely as an 8 hour long QTE aren’t exactly WRONG per se, but damn if it isn’t a crazy crazy experience that comes super easy to recommend for anyone looking for an alternative to “The Video Game” currently in vogue by the AAA publishers.
You’ve got about 3 standard things you’re doing in Asura’s Wrath: Fighting in a sort of lite version of God Hand / Devil May Cry. flying or running at extremely high speeds (which turns into Afterburner), shooting things in the vein of a lightgun game, and doing some button input stuff a la Heavy Rain.
Thematically, all I can describe it as is that some guys in Japan were watching Kratos stuff one day and were like “Wait. We’re the country that Dragonball Z and MY POWER IS OVER NINE THOUSAAAAND comes from. And these Westerners think they can out-QTE us and out-AAARGH ANGRY RAGE RAGE ANGER SO MAAAD us? Preposterous! We can make THE ANGRIEST hero and the MOST EXTREME AND CRAZY QTEs ever imagined by mankind! You wait and see if we can’t!
… and so. Asura’s Wrath.
Let’s be clear: Sure, it’s quicktime events, crazy camera tricks and timed button presses… but guys, it’s the god damned craziest button presses and quicktime events you ever will see. For real. Its visual design is off-the-scale awesome and totally gonzo nutbar. Weird melange of Indian and Tibetan mythology meets futuristic tech – like the Covenant crash landed into Ankor Wat.
The basic premise is just Ninja Scroll. Asura is one of the 8 Immortal Gods of the universe who are supposed to be immortal divine forces, protecting Humanity from Demons (collectively “Ghoma”) and stuff. Right at the beginning of the game 7 of them turn into total dickheads and betray Asura, throwing him down into hell so that they can stage a heavenly coup d’etat against the existing heavenly Emperor. Asura spends something like 12,000 years getting progressively more and more furious down there in Buddhist Hell until the point that the’s had alls he can stands and he can’t stands no more, so wham bam kablam, he’s back on earth to fight each of the 7 gods one-at-a-time, Bruce Lee tower of death style.
So begins the rediculous, totally over-the-top revenge spree where Asura’s power goes from nine thousand to nine bajillion thousand million and shit starts getting epically, supremely, Epic Level.
Last night, after chilling out with my old Sensei at a hot springs it became necessary to fight him in a duel to the death that was so intense that it resulted in both of us being punched straight up into the moon. We both then fought in zero G there on the moon for a while, slugging it out while classical music by beethoven or rachmaniniov played in the background as we punching each other so hard that we were crashing through moon mountains. He then pulled out a katana from his scabbard that was so large that it took more than a minute of cutscene to emerge from its sheath and then flung me into orbit towards earth where all six of the arms currently attached my body burned up upon reentry. Sensei then lept from the moon to earth, skewering me to the planet with a sword that pierced the continents, emerging apple core style from the other side of the planet (China?) where people, were, presumably surprised to see it. Things were looking bad until I punched the sword in half and then, with katana clutched in teeth and posessing no arms, I fought Sensei with the shattered hilt. You think I’m making this up, but I’m not. This is Asura’s Wrath.
(foolishness begins aroung 6:45)
What I’m saying is that if you’re in the mood for something just gonzo crazy dragonball to the XTREME with no pretentions of being anything besides just bugfuck nuts rage WRAAAUGH RAAAGE you should play Asura’s Wrath.