(Namco Bandai for PS3 and Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
I can’t get into the Afro Samurai anime. It’s kinda slow and I’m antsy. But the game is fantastic. It puts you in the sandals of a blood-thirsty samurai hell-bent on revenge and lets you loose inside exactly the style of game you would want with that mindset – a Ninja Gaiden/God of War-inspired hack-and-slash bonanza. Unlike so many licensed games, here the combat actually feels inspired: Your standard attacks are augmented by the ability to enter slo-mo and pinpoint exactly which parts of your opponents’ bodies you want to slice off. Your loudmouth companion even makes a mini-game out of it – Body Part Poker – wherein you’ll earn flushes and straights depending on which limbs go flying within a short time limit. The whole game has a great sense of humor and energy, thanks largely to good writing, a great soundtrack, and an incredibly enthusiastic vocal performance from Samuel L. Jackson. The visuals do an amazing job not only of capturing the look of the anime, but also in creating atmosphere, from solemn, snowy shrines to piers at sunset. The adrenalized set pieces are piled on at a satisfying pace, but in the end, it’s the little touches, like the stark black-and-white-and-blood-red world you enter while in slow-mo or the giggling child you hear when a teddy bear replenishes your health, that make Afro Samurai far more memorable than most action games.