Afro Samurai PS3 Review

Afro Samurai, the cult cartoon series, is a unique blend of an afro and yes a samurai, hip-hop, Samuel L. Jackson and Japanese culture. It’s unique even in the field of anime, which is saying a lot. Conversely, the game version doesn’t share its namesakes uniqueness.

Afro Samurai focuses on the events of the first series of the show. Afro, a black cigarette smoking samurai with big hair, is on a quest to get revenge on his fathers murderer. He’s joined by Ninja Ninja, who provides the comic relief and is made all the better by Samuel L. Jackson’s excellent delivery of his lines. He’s a stereotypical character, as are many others, but it has its tongue firmly in its cheek, which makes it difficult not to be entertained by them to at least some degree.

The game’s story is essentially a trimmed down version of the first series, which is an enticing prospect for its followers, allowing them to play familiar scenes from the show, but not so much for the uninitiated, who may be left confused on occasion.

Being a hack and slash affair, one of the staple of many a gamers diet, the appeal of the game itself is much more far reaching. The combat has a God of War like level of gore and that game is a fair comparison to make from a gameplay standpoint too. There are plenty of combo options, though fights with lowly enemies can be won by just largely bashing any of the two attack buttons, so unless you’re really wanting to mix things up or maybe impress someone, they’re rarely necessary to go to the effort of pulling off.

An important aspect of combat and one that marginally sets it apart from similar games is the focus manoeuvre. This is a deadly tool that allows you to slice limbs or heads off in sometimes a single stroke, done so by waiting until the right moment. You’ll probably spend the vast majority of the time in this state and not only because it’s effective, but also because separated heads and limbs rarely fail to amuse, of the virtual kind of course.

All this fighting malarkey is broken up by the occasional Prince of Persia style platforming sections, which are rather forgettable really and not half as slick as its inspiration manages.

The game’s visuals superbly capture the art style of the show, which will please fans, as well as those who just like to see distinctive art styles in their games. The animation is smooth too, but the areas can occasionally be a bit bland, not at all helped by a pretty high level of backtracking. When the screen gets busy, there‘s also slowdown issues, but it’s never regular enough to be a serious detriment to that lovely visual style, or even the experience as a whole.

Afro Samurai is not a bad game by any means, it’s a slightly above average hack and slash, but has far too many problems to place it in the same league as a number of similar games and does little to mirror the level of creativity of the show it’s based off. It’s certainly one for the Afro Samurai follower then, but also manages to not be a too bad offering for genre fans either.