Thursday, July 9, 2009

Lookin' for options? You've got none left, boy ;)

So, my friends (and probably others) and I firmly believe that serious voice talent can make even reading a phone book engaging and interesting.

For instance, Christopher Walken could probably keep me in stitches as he read the weekly NFL injury report.

The developers of Afro Samurai decided to include VO in their game shell menus. So, when you go to the Options screen, you get the quote contained in the title of this post as read by Samuel L. Jackson.

I'm not a big SLJ fan, aside from his work in Pulp Fiction and Search for One-Eyed Jimmy. But he's cast perfectly and the writing is superb in Afro Samurai.

For a real treat: Go to the Statistics page. Not sure if it only plays the first time (or on occasion) but the SLJ monologue for this menu screen is fan-freaking-tastic.

Kudos to the writers.

The game, itself, is pretty entertaining. It's a frenetic journey, much in the way that Half-life 2 was. Each segment leads into the next in a kind of breathless adventure that leaves me wanting more.

The game bring lots of cool style in terms of music and visuals to the game experience. Cut-scenes are faded in using techniques found in 70s martial arts style movies. The hip-hop music is a great addition and the character and environment design is great.

The combat system is over-the-top and fun (though I still can't figure out some of the special moves) albeit a little button-mashy for the most part. I'd like a little more tactics/strategy in my encounters -- something that the game shows hints of in certain set-piece battles (like where there are sharpshooters perched on some buildings; where certain enemies need to be thrown into specific targets).

The dialog, content, and even achievements are all very internally consistent and support the feel of the game in a way that is extremely satisfying.

In some ways, especially with the loading screen videos and the treatment of player "death", the game reminds me a bunch of The Darkness. Another wonderfully written stylistic game that didn't have the greatest combat, but was still a pleasure to play through for the visceral experience.

Time to dive back in before hitting the road again. Summer crunch is here and it's keeping me busy.

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