|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Surge||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 27, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Similarly asinine, players are unable to access the options menu from the Start button. In fact, if you want to change BGM volume, invert the camera, change video settings, etc., you'll have to wait till the game auto-saves, quit the game, go back to the title screen, make your changes, reenter your saved game, and mash your way through the repeated cutscenes until you're finally allowed to jump back into where you left off. That certainly is not a sound development choice.
Thankfully, many design choices are successfully implemented. For example, the lack of a HUD really helps keep the cinematic feel alive. Players will notice their health dwindling simply by how their Gi begins to glow red and their thumping heartbeat. Players will also be able to keep track of acquired focus by the glowing bangle that trails from their Katana. It was an excellent choice to go HUD-less.
Also, accessing the combo list is a breeze. There, players will be able to keep track of locked moves, unlocked moves, and acquired XP in specific skills; players never have to manage Afro with time-consuming XP point-dumps. Automatically leveling-up in this way is not only rewarding, but it also means you'll never have to stop the action or feel like you're missing out on unclaimed skills. You also don't have to grind your way through levels before reaching the boss.
Additionally, Afro Samurai exudes style from start to finish. From the gory deaths you inflict upon your enemies, to the cel-shaded, comic-book look, Afro Samurai is a very attractive game. The attention to detail in terms of capturing the feel of the anime and manga is excellent. I particularly liked the way important events swipe onto the screen, similar to how asides in comic books are implemented. Slicing your foes in half, cutting off their feet, scalping them, watching them perform Seppuku, etc. are gaming experiences that don't really get old. Afro Samurai really is an awesome-looking game that loads on the polish. If it weren't for the occasional framerate issues, this game would be nearly perfect visually.
What has attained perfection is the games soundtrack and voice over work. I have never heard a game with this much quality. The music in Afro Samurai is a combination of Eastern-themed samples and hip hop beats by composer Howard Drossin, with a few tracks getting solid raps from Wu-Tang Clans RZA. The songs are so good, in fact, I will be purchasing a copy of the soundtrack its better music than the vast majority of hip pop out there. Likewise, the voice over work is sensational. Samuel L. Jacksons role as Ninja Ninja is spot on. The witty, foul-mouthed lines that spew forth had me laughing and reciting them over and over again. For instance, catch phrases such as, Mount that asshole!... ooh, that came out wrong, grace this titles aural stylings. A word of caution: this is a game that makes liberal use of its mature rating; MFs and F-bombs riddle the comments.
Afro Samurai doesnt revolutionize action gameplay. It does, however, bring a level of quality to the presentation that is wholly appealing. On the basis of visuals and sound quality alone, this game simply cant be failed. However, the game doesnt just employ beautiful graphics and awesome music. I thoroughly enjoyed Afro Samurais combat mechanics. Anyone who tries to say this is just a button masher is either not a very good gamer or didnt spend enough time with the title. How can you fault a game that tracks gallons of blood spilled as one of your stats? This may not be a must-buy, but it is a stylish action romp that will please a mature audience looking for laughs and an ass-kicking good time.
CCC Editor / News Director