As a child, Afro Samurai witnesses the murder of his father to the hands of the Number One Headband (the bestest swordsman there is). It's from this moment on that Afro Samurai seeks out the Number Two headband in order to avenge his father's death.
Afro Samurai is a roaming beat 'em up with a fairly lengthy single player mode.
Afro Samurai is one of the most gorgeous Playstation 3 games we've played. Whether you're executing one of Afro's special focus attacks - where the colour drains except black, white and red - or just taking in the beautiful world around you, Afro Samurai looks gorgeous. It has a very organic, pencil line/cel shaded look to it which is simply breathtaking. The colours are very subdued, indicative of the adult plot, but everything still manages to stand out. The characters faces are our favourite, their facial features brought to life by thick pencil strokes. Sadly the animation is a little choppy.
As a free roaming beat 'em up, much of Afro Samurai's gameplay lies in the repetition of pressing the Square and Triangle buttons for sword attacks. This mechanic is broken up by the excellent focus attacks, mind. By hitting the L1 button, the screen is drained of colour and time is slowed, giving you time to aim a perfect slice right between the eyes of your opponent. And yes, they do split in half.
Hollywood behemoth Samuel L. Jackson assumes the role of Afro Samurai and puts in a solid performance. We also found the range of taunts and quips from the bosses to be more than adequate, but sadly the standard-fare troops sound like a stuck record, cursing away ad nauseum.
The initial moments of Afro Samurai, we understood. Afro's father has died, pleads, etc. From then on, we really didn't have a clue what was going on. Perhaps you have to be a fan of the anime to understand, we know how elitist these types can be. But some form of recap/better storytelling wouldn't have gone a miss for those of us who aren't aware of the anime.
Afro Samurai's camera has a mind of its own. Not only is it too slow and unresponsive but it also has a tendency to move where you don't want it to. The game implements some platforming elements which are entirely unplayable at times due to the camera's desire to swing all over the place while you're trying to time a jump. It gets quite frustrating and also makes the combat slower and less fluid than it should be.
Regularly games in this vain only have a certain number of enemy types that keep reoccurring. Afro Samurai extends that philosophy to a new level. Seriously - the game doesn't even attempt to change the colour of the enemies, it just fills the screen with 12 or so characters that all look exactly the same.
Afro Samurai has a level-up system that unlocks new moves for you to use throughout the campaign. However, you wouldn't know about it. It's only when you accidentally press the Select button that you notice a combos list that grows the more you play. Also, what are those teddy bear things? We think they restore health. Does anybody know? Answers on a postcard.
Afro Samurai is a stylish yet mediocre roaming beat-em-up that's packed with interesting but undeveloped ideas.