Asura's Wrath (Played on Xbox 360)
I've read a lot about Capcom's upcoming action game, but I've never watched any gameplay footage. I wish that I had, because then I wouldn't be feeling the sense of disappointment that I feel now. Don't get me wrong, the portion that I played looked amazing and the score perfectly suits the bat shit crazy action on screen. The problem is, no matter how nutty the titular character looks, or how many giant swords you're being stabbed with, the game handles like an interactive cut scene. Even when the action is taken off rails, it feels as though you're going through the motions until the director has something more ridiculous to show you. I certainly hope that the full game pits the player against grunts instead of boss fight after meticulously-directed boss fight. Still, the scale of the action and high-quality animation deserves to be seen (if not played).
Not pictured: The rest of this deity's giant thumb.
I love the game's oriental sci-fi motif and the fantastic soundtrack, but the action feels like a shallow interruption to the wonderfully-rendered cut scenes. Worth a download, but I'll probably wait for this one to hit the bargain bins.
The Darkness II (Played on Xbox 360)
I was a big fan of Starbreeze's - of Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay fame - first quasi-open world effort based on Top Cow's comic, The Darkness. It was short, shockingly-violent and truly horrifying in some scenes. Digital Extremes - which handled the PS3 port of Bioshock - is at the helm with the sequel, and what I've seen looks promising... and violent. Like ridiculously violent. Like "seriously, how the fuck did Mortal Kombat get banned in Australia and this game sails through uncensored" violent. With your Darkness powers you can eat hearts, rip men in half, impale your foes with all kinds of improvised weaponry and almost literally paint the town red. It's quite a meaty demo - all things considered - and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the final release in a few weeks time. The shooting itself is a bit loose, but the Darkness powers allow for enough improvisation that you won't often care. It's also worth noting that the new cel-shaded visual style is a great fit.
Do you like gore? Do you like the idea of a twist - however superficial it may be - on the tired FPS genre? Do you like solid shooting mechanics and beautiful, cel-shaded graphics? If you answered yes to any of those questions, the demo for The Darkness II may manage to sell you on the full retail release.
It's probably worth noting that I would've bought The Darkness II regardless of the demo's quality, but I was expecting more from the trial for Asura's Wrath. If the weight of critical opinion is in the affirmative my balsa wood will may break, for now though.... I'll wait.