Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back in the CCCR: Asura's Wrath

at 6:00 PM

Back in the CCCR (Control Customization Reviews Revisited) takes a closer look at one of the most critical but least appreciated aspects of the modern gaming vehicle: the control customization options. Today we tackle Capcom's Crazy Cutscene Caper of 2012: Cassandra's Wrath.

Wow, it's already that time of year? Yes indeedy, it's been exactly one year and about two weeks since Back in the CCCR last wOsE fWoM yOuR gWaVe like a mummy with a chip on its shoulder to stalk the nights of the living and drink their blood. The nights' blood. Today we've got Asura's Wrath and we're going to learn an important lesson.

Don't use the options screen to trick the player.

Don't use the options screen to taunt the player.

I don't know. Maybe CyberConnect2 and Capcom were trying to make a point. Asura's Wrath is, on a basic level, a game about a hopping mad dude who can't help himself from getting angrier and angrier until his eyeballs literally explode out of his head and into the sun. I don't know that it ever earns the title of "parody" or "satire", but it's at least an absurd pastiche of angry antihero tropes. Maybe the control customization antics were the developers' little way of forcing me to empathize with Asura. Maybe CyberConnect said to themselves: "how can we make the player as rabidly furious as a man whose closest allies killed his wife and kidnapped his daughter before casting him into the underworld for 12,000 years? They'll be playing a video game - that'll probably make them pretty relaxed and happy. What can we take away from them? What is the ultimate betrayal of the player?"

The ultimate betrayal of the player is to offer an option called "Invert camera Y-axis" in a game that is 50% 3rd-person-shooter and have that option NOT AFFECT THE THIRD-PERSON SHOOTING SEGMENTS OF THE GAME. That's right. Not only is there no way to invert the cursor control during the rail-shooting and fine-aim gameplay, there actually is a camera inversion option in the menu to tempt you and remind you that the developers were totally aware that many players like to invert the Y-axis - but that they only thought it was important for the free camera in melee combat arenas. I was so incredulous at this that I actually went into the menu like three times to flip this switch and make sure it wasn't actually inverting the controls and that my brain wasn't playing tricks on me. No. They actually just decided that the arena camera was more important than goddamned aiming a gun.

Who fucking makes these calls? There are few people I can honestly say I would punch in the face without ever having met. The guy who says "we don't need aim inversion because I don't use it" is one of them. If I could meet this developer in person I wouldn't stop at a sucker punch, I'd be prepared with a nice pair of vice grips - one to affix his hand to a table, and the other to clamp onto his fingers one at a time so I could bend each back and upwards until it snapped off; you know, UP - the direction I want my cursor to move when I'm holding the analog stick DOWN, as the vice would be holding his hand. Hopefully this would convey my ire. If not, perhaps he has an infant child or cat that he could throw into the air for target practice so I could demonstrate to him that when you aim a .45 cal upwards, you actually pull back, just as I'm naturally inclined to pull back on an analog stick to aim skyward in a third-person-shooter such as Asura's Wrath

So, in short, this little control customization decision certainly has Asura's wrath flowing through me. 

The verdict? Asura's Wrath gets retitled Back in the CCCR's Wrath and sent to Hell for 12,000 years.