Afro Samurai Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
Afro Samurai box art
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.

Afro Samurai screenshot

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 game’s 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 Clan’s RZA. The songs are so good, in fact, I will be purchasing a copy of the soundtrack – it’s better music than the vast majority of hip pop out there. Likewise, the voice over work is sensational. Samuel L. Jackson’s 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 title’s 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 screenshot

Afro Samurai doesn’t 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 can’t be failed. However, the game doesn’t just employ beautiful graphics and awesome music. I thoroughly enjoyed Afro Samurai’s combat mechanics. Anyone who tries to say this is just a button masher is either not a very good gamer or didn’t 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.

By Jonathan Marx
CCC Editor / News Director

The Cel-shaded look is outstanding. Unfortunately, some technical issues do mar the otherwise beautiful visuals.
Platforming is a bit on the weak side, and the inability to easily control the camera is a problem. Still, the extensive and intuitive combo list makes up for the control shortcomings.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
This is the most aurally pleasing video game I've ever played.
Play Value
The simple action may get tiresome for those that don't put the time into learning the controls. Also, the game is quite short. Nevertheless, I had a blast cutting my way through, and have made this game part of my personal collection!
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Unparalleled Star Power: Samuel L. Jackson stars as the voice of Afro Samurai and Ninja alongside Ron Pearlman and Kelly Hu reprising their roles as Justice and Okiku.
  • Funky Hip Hop Beats: A hip hop inspired soundtrack with new tracks created by RZA of Wu-Tang Clan fame.
  • A Tale of Revenge: Afro Samurai follows the exploits of the original series and includes new material and background for fans of the series and newcomers alike.
  • Blood is Beautiful: A striking art style, shading, and texturing give Afro Samurai a truly unique look and feel.
  • Style and Rhythm: Innovative gameplay system where the music affects the enemy A.I. and the tone of the gameplay.
  • Elegant Violence: A balanced experience between stylistic combat and acrobatic platforming with the ability to dynamically slice and dismember enemies with ease.
  • Screen Resolution: Up to 1080p (Full HDTV).

  • Screenshots / Images
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