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Afro Samurai is a bloody tale of betrayal and revenge set in a stylish futuristic imagining of medieval Japan. Originally an anime miniseries, it is now coming to consoles and bringing with it the powerful story and voice-acting talents of Samuel L. Jackson, Ron Perlman, and Kelly Hu. In his quest to avenge the death of his father, Afro must slash, slice, and sever his way through legions of foes, so much of the game is focused on brutal sword combat. We checked out Namco Bandai’s E3 2008 booth and got a good, long look at just how nasty Afro can be.

Basic combat is a simple matter of combining three different attack buttons with jumps and blocks to unleash combos on your myriad foes. The light attack strikes horizontally, the heavy attack strikes vertically, and the kick attack rounds it all out. Afro can combine these strikes in a wide variety of ways to hack at his opponents, though all but the weakest thugs will likely block and make things trickier for our big-haired hero. Jumping into the fray opens up a new set of attacks, and if you manage to jump directly on top of a foe, Afro will perch on his shoulders and deliver a nasty killing blow that may be as clean as plunging his sword through the enemy’s eye, or as messy as stomping the enemy’s face to a pulp.

When things begin to get a little tougher for Afro, he can activate focus mode. In this mode, Afro’s world turns black and white. Holding the trigger and one of the sword attack buttons, the player can use the analog stick to position a white line on the target’s body and determine where Afro will strike. Timing the strike is key, and you’ll will have to match your release with a flash of light that travels along Afro’s sword. Executed properly, this attack will sever the enemy along the line the player designated and won’t resort to canned animations that don’t quite line up. We watched as Afro sliced off scalps, cut foes off at the knees, and chopped through torsos with grisly variety.

As his opponents continue to grow more numerous, Afro Samurai can engage his over-focus power to create death even more efficiently. In this mode, Afro moves so fast that his opponents appear to be moving in slow motion, and every attack is a deadly slice that will kill its target instantly. Focus and over-focus won’t be available in unlimited supply, and Afro will have to allow them to recharge between bouts. Still, they look to provide a fantastic amount of gore in a delightful variety of ways, and we’re definitely looking forward to taking Afro’s sword out for a spin. Slated to release later this year, Afro Samurai sports some of the most stylish combat at E3 2008, and we’ll be sure to bring you more anime action as soon as we can get it.



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