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Afro Samurai PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 6.8
Graphics 8.6
Sound 8.7
Value 6.9
Distributor: Activision
Review Date:
May 2009
Tyrone Williams


Afro Samurai

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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 sword.

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 direction.

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!


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