Game Review: Afro Samurai (PS3, 360)

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Blood,Revenge and memorable Sam Jackson one liners. Did I mention blood? A ton of it?  Does the game do the series Justice?  Why don’t you step over to the other side so we can take a look at Afro Samurai….

After seeing early footage of this title and being a huge Sam Jackson fan, I reserved it. Then I thought that perhaps I should actually watch the first season to make sure I would be interested in it. I bought it and quickly found myself wishing two things:  First being that I watched it sooner and second that the game would hurry up and get here already! With that being said, you can see my expectations were pretty high for this game.

Visually, Afro Samurai looks like the Anime in which it is based. Using cel- shading to capture the unique style of the universe as well as varied multi-angled cut scenes.  It looks like you’re watching the series and really adds to the immersion factor.

Now to what is important, it looks good but how does it play? Well, Here is where the game starts to lose it’s luster for me.  First and foremost it is a third person action game where you face tons of enemies and basically hack and slash your way through them. Nothing wrong with a hack and slash title, they have their place and there are times that is exactly what I want to play. There are a few “Go pull this lever then find and press another lever” moments but nothing complicated like a God of War or Prince of Persia puzzle which takes some thought to get through.  There are combo moves that you learn and unlock along the way, but let’s be honest, you don’t need them and many times they end up leaving you vulnerable after you try them. So I just used the basic attacks and the occasional block or kick to progress through the game. There are boss battles, which typically are one on one and is one of the bright points of gameplay.

The camera drove me nuts, I would use a flip, side roll or another move  to evade an attack, only to find myself facing the wrong way, then get hit in the back. It would have been nice to have some kind of a target lock or something to help you refocus on the enemy, but other than the center camera button, nothing really useful in this situation. There were a few instances of camera placement with pillars or columns blocking my field of vision as there always seems to be in third person titles. My biggest frustration with this title would be when you need to do something precise like a beam walk, jumping to a platform or one of the poles sticking out of a wall (which seems to have replaced the crate or barrel in action games lately).These are more of an annoyance and  placement of Afro has to be perfect in order to successfully navigate them. Once you actually make it to the first platform in a series, or onto the beam, it is automatic after that and pretty easy. I guess I just didn’t like having to stop and realign then start again, this should be able to completed in a nice fluid motion, like Prince of Persia.

My favorite part of the game actually has to be the sound. The one liners and comments in the game crack me up, a few become repetitive but that’s okay. The soundtrack is well done but one thing to note is that other than a track or two, RZA didn’t contribute all of the music. What he did contribute is excellent.

This is probably not a game to play around the young ones as the language is a bit more mature and happens quite often. I’m not sure if I or the game yelled more expletives because of the previously mentioned problems. If you have seen the series, you are probably aware of the mature content. If not, you should check both of them out, they are available now on DVD and Blu-Ray and our reviews of them can be found here.

If you are a huge fan of Afro Samurai, you will probably  pick this title up. The additional content and back story are nice (though some aspects of the story don’t mesh with the series). My suggestion for this game would be to RENT it. It is a decent distraction in short periods but with the quality of other games out and about to be released, you will probably lose interest pretty quick.


Buy Afro Samurai Game [PS3][XBox 360]

Buy Afro Samurai: Season One – Director’s Cut [Blu-ray][DVD]

Buy Afro Samurai: Resurrection – Director’s Cut [Blu-ray][DVD]