3 Reviews

Afro Samurai

Samuel L Jackson gets cut down by dodgy camerawork

Right up to our encounter with a flamethrower-wielding Brother 6, we were enjoying Afro Samurai, a decent slice of non-cerebral hack and slash with the occasional chuckle over a Samuel L Jackson one-liner.

Cel-shaded feudal Japan still looked impressive after months of previews, and the Kill Bill-style sprays of blood were enough to keep us interested in dicing Afro's countless hordes of foes.

It was enough to counter our problems with the camera, and the imprecision of the few boss fights up until then.

Then came Brother 6, a boss fight made infuriatingly difficult by virtue of a dodgy camera, the lack of a lock-on feature, the inability of Afro to perform a standard evade move and a flamethrower with an unfair range of attack.

Zoom

Lock-on mechanics, by which at the touch of a button the camera focuses on one enemy and leaves the player to worry about combat, has been in existence for the last decade and is now the norm. But not here.

Admittedly, there has never been a game that has perfected a camera smart enough to pan around automatically so you're never blind to the action, but it takes a special case to make us consider throwing down the joypad in disgust.

With regular enemies you can just block attacks as you manually pan the camera, but Number 6 is an unwelcome blip in an otherwise decent action romp.

The preceding boss battles are tense stand-offs waiting for an on-screen cue to parry and launch a counter-offensive, but mapped to RT we found the timing imprecise and muddled by awkward camera angles - especially after spending time with Prince of Persia's fighting mechanics.

That said, there are some things to enjoy in Afro Samurai. The jump between different points of Afro's life makes for an interesting twist on story progression and the voiceover work, particularly Samuel L Jackson as Afro's sidekick, is well done and continually brilliant (OXM has its quote lined up for the bar on Friday night).

Furthermore, the inclusion of 'Body Part Poker', a mini-game where you have to cut off the same limb from three enemies in a row, is genius.

With the lack of multiplayer, scoreboards or extra content there's nothing that will pull you back for another playthrough once you've completed Afro's bloody tale of revenge. But if you like a limited but enjoyable scrappy challenge along the lines of John Woo's Stranglehold, you'll find much to enjoy here.

The verdict

Sloppy slashwork fails to hit its target

  • Samuel L Jackson
  • Focus attacks never fail to impress
  • Camera's not perfect
  • Frustrating boss fights
  • Nothing beyond the first playthrough
6
Format
Xbox 360
Developer
Namco Bandai
Publisher
Atari
Genre
Action, Adventure, Beat 'em Up

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