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Game Profile
Xbox 360
Namco Bandai
Namco Bandai
GENRE: Action
January 27, 2009

Afro Samurai

 Written by Kyle Williams  on May 21, 2009

Review: Mount that b!+@#

I'm a Samuel L. Jackson fan. He brings a certain, ?something,? to the movies that he is in. Take Snakes on a Plane for example. Without him, his energy, and his dedication to the campy nature of the story that movie would have blown. That is why I was intrigued when I heard that he was working with Namco Bandai on the Afro Samurai video game. I figured that I had to give it a shot.

I'm going to be honest with you. I haven't had much exposure to Afro Samurai before this game. I don't have affection for the show. However, after playing through this game I'm going to be checking it out after my son goes to bed, possibly even picking up the DVD. I'm that intrigued. The game relates a tale of loss, revenge, and more loss. It is an interesting amalgam of ancient Japan, blacksploitation media of the 1970s, and modern technology. Most importantly, the mix works.

Of course, we're here to talk about the game, aren't we? What Afro Samurai delivers is a competent combo-based sword-fighting gameplay. While this alone would devolve into a simple-button mashing affair, Surge (the same developer that is currently handling the Splatterhouse update), did a fine job working in a focus attack that drops everything into slow motion. This effect has been used before in gunplay titles like Max Payne and Dead to Rights, but never to this degree of mutilation. In Afro's case, the focus attack ups the likelihood of lopping off a limb with your standard attacks and also enables charged attacks, ones that are sure to fell all but the largest of your opponents.

Afro Samurai continues to break up the repetition in the game with some tough timing actions (blocking and splitting bullets and parrying attacks), the occasional platforming segment, and some well executed cut-scenes. All-in-all, the game delivers a well balanced experience that actually benefits from having a relatively short narrative. If the game were any longer than its six and a half hours, it would easily delve into the realm of repetitive and monotonous. On the other hand, there is a harder difficulty level that is unlocked after playing through the game once that will double the game's life. If not for that, it would be tough to come back to the game a second time.

Now, no game that is based off a comic book and TV show can get away with slipshod graphics in this day and age. Afro Samurai takes that bar and pushes it even higher. This game incorporates the best use of cell-shading that I've ever seen, the character models and textures are near flawless, and the blood (oh, sweet fancy Moses there is oodles of blood) flows and flows and flows. Even foes that you've cleaved in two look, for lack of a better word, right. Long story made short, the style of this game, from the graphics to the animations, to the star-studded voice-acting more than make up for any shortcoming in the gameplay department.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, Afro Samurai, despite its roots as a cartoon and manga, is not a game for kids. This game, and the show that it is based off of, is chock full of violence, adult, and a taste of skin. Now that you've been warned it is the blood, profanity, and sexual innuendo that takes Afro Samurai from the realm of decent brawler to memorable gaming experience. With one swing of his sword Afro takes off an opponent's hand (and earns you an achievement), after parrying an opponent's strike, Ninja Ninja yells, ?Mount that b!+@#,? and I swear there was at least one female opponent that showed a little bit of nipple. I'm not complaining, but there is no way that my son is playing this for another 16 years. I just hope that my 360 is still running then so that he can.

Bottom Line
There is no denying that Afro Samurai does it with Style. Everything from the swordplay to Samuel L. Jackson's banter to the graphics has a signature feel that defines the game. This look and feel does a great job of complimenting the gameplay, actually going so far as to overshadow the game's few faults. You can be cautious of Afro Samurai's short narrative but you are bound to have a good time hacking off limbs and heads on your way there. Personally, I hope that they develop a sequel based off of the recently released DVD Afro Samurai: Resurrection.

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