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Afro Samurai is based on the anime
cartoon series of the same name and features an "Afro" samurai with a
mystical headband that also happens to be a master with the Samurai
Even though I've never never seen the anime
series, I have seen trailers and I must admit that the graphics of the
game almost looks identical. The title is set in pseudo-quasi feudal
Japan, however the main character is quite reminiscent of those black
exploitation movies of the 70's from the clichés, voice acting and the
music. What makes Afro Samurai so amusing as a game is the voice acting
by none other than Samuel L. Jackson who plays Ninja Ninja, our
heroes sidekick. The cell-shaded graphics of the game suits the title
perfectly, especially some of the strange effects in the game such as
the way our heroes hair moves. Quite surreal.
The story behind the game which is loosely
based on the anime series is that Afro's father was violently murdered
in order for the villain to claim the No.1 headband and our young hero
witnesses his demise. From here, it's a deadly climb to the top for
revenge and to reclaim the family headband.
The core game mechanics of Afro Samurai is
traditional hack and slash game that is quite violent and over the top.
Unfortunately it doesn't add anything new to the genre which is a shame
because everything is in place from graphics, story and voice acting. To
compound the situation, the camera in the game is quite flakey to
control which does become a frustration while playing. Getting stuck in
the game is also a fiddle some affair as there is no real insight into
where you should be going and the camera does assist in this problem.
However, if you do get stuck, you can summon your sidekick Ninja
Ninja who will appear and attempt to point you in the right
The combat in the game was initially quite
entertaining that is reminiscent of those over the top games such as
Devil May Cry as you perform a variety of unrealistic maneuvers that
goes hand in hand with your deadly sword. Add in a variety of different
combo's and the novel idea of the focus system that is a Matrix-esq
style bullet time which allows you to pinpoint your foes with some
brutal attacks. The gamer is awarded experience points during the
battles which assists in Afro leveling up and this can be used for
combos, health and the like. I must admit that the bosses were kind of
cool in Afro Samurai, ensuring to break up the monotony of the endless
lackeys that are thrown at you.
The focus system assists in pulling off
some violent maneuvers such as decapitations and the like. Combat does
become repetitive as well as you encounter an endless amount of foes who
keep appearing and appearing and appearing. Although the combo's are
quite impressive, the camera issue comes into play again that seems like
it has a mind of its own and unfortunately effects the gameplay. With
that said, the camera just feels backward and you cannot remap this
feature of the game that truly hampers the gameplay.
In regards to the control system of Afro
Samurai, the Sony DualShock controller is well mapped by the developers
and most gamers will be able to pick up the controller and start
playing. It is tricky pulling off the plethora of combos in the game,
however if you put in the effort and can get past the camera issues,
you'll be swinging your sword like a true professional.
Graphically, the title is a visual treat on
the PS3 with impressive background environment, great character design,
especially for Afro. To compliment the graphics, the voice acting of the
game is truly kickass thanks to the talents of Samuel L. Jackson and Ron
Perlman who really bounce of each other and truly give something to the
title. Match that with great soundtrack and it's a shame that the
gameplay mechanics were so annoying.
At the end of the day, fans of the anime
series may enjoy this title, however the fiddle some control system and
camera problems unfortunately just make this a truly frustrating gaming
experience and I really wanted to like this title. Quite a shame really!