This is the first of hopefully many reviews. It’s not my intent to use a scoring system as one persons 5 is another’s 2.5 so I just point out what I see or don’t and then you can judge for yourself.
For this review I have picked Afrika released in Asia as Hakuna Matata. It was released by Rhino Studios in Japan in Q3-08 and the US in Q4-09 but had lack luster sales likely due to US gamers not understanding what the game was. And also having to compete for gamer dollars against titles such as Uncharted 2, Assassins Creed 2, and COD:MW2.
Afrika is a game that puts player in the role of a new photographer for National Geographic on a photo safari of Africa’s vast Serengeti. The game features over 75 different animals, Including all ones you think of when you hear “Africa” and some you never knew existed.
This game is something you would expect to see on the Wii with it being based around animals and viewing them in their natural habitat. One of the major things that stands out with Afrika is that from the players standpoint it is a non-violent game. At the same time you use many skills that are second nature when playing 1st person shooters.
Not to say it’s a harmless environment, the world in Afrika is dynamic and animals interact just like the real world so don’t get to close or you’ll regret it afterwards.
Within the game on some of the over #120 photo missions you’ll launch a semi-scripted “Big Game Trophy” sequence. In these you’ll shot events such as Lions hunting Zebra, Wildebeest herd river crossing, even Male Giraffe’s battling for dominance. At the end of missions your photos are judged on 4 diffrent aspects and good quality brings more money. Your earnings give you the ability buy equipment to make your job easier and upgrade to more advanced cameras and powerful lenses.
You’ll explore five areas. Duma Steppe a hilly plain bordering a forest, Kiboko Swamp a marshland where the large are in charge, Choroa Gorge a arid dust bowl with a life giving stream, Lake Heroe a large salt lake and tree grove, Kiwanja Plain a massive grassland where every day is a battle. Each of these areas is unlocked as you progress in the game.
The Good: The game looks amazing! All five of the games habitats are large and feel immersive. Each animals animations varied and random so you never get a feeling that they are just a script. Most texturing is to a level you’d expect to see on a PC, Look at a Zebra up close at 300mm and you can see the detail of the fur. The Lighting is quite good as well. A day lasts about 40 mins with the sunlight giving off shadows from the environment ending the day in wonderful sunsets. During night missions your Jeep and helmet-light are the only light source, giving a realistic and yet eerie atmosphere as you hear wildlife moving around in the dark. Early in the game you get an idea of how diffrent it is when a Cheetah sprints past your Jeep like it’s standing still and takes down a Gazelle.
The Bad: The sound design is one of the few weak points. The sound that is there is A+ quality, but there is not enough to make some of the animals sound like they are not on a long-winded sound loop. The same go’s for the soundtrack. It’s great, it has even won awards but each track is locked to an certain area, menu, time, or event. Giving a repetitive feel after the first 10 hours of play.
Depending on your play style Afrika might not be the game for you. It requires patience and lots of it. There can be times you spend a whole game day and not get the shot you need to advance. In ways you have to think and play like a sniper.
The Ugly: At times the game can seem glitched in a way that you can’t progress any further. Most times this is due to you not yet spotting or logging in an animal that is related to a different mission you have been requested to do.
There are also about 3 animals that you never get a photo request for so you don’t know they are missing. I needed to search online to find out what I was missing.
In the sound menu there is an option for a setting called “Midnight Mode” that is said to make sounds more vibrant on a 5.1 system, from my research most people can’t get to work on non-sony sound systems.
Trophies: Afrika has 45 trophies. 34 Bronze, 6 Silver, 4 Gold and 1 Platinum. Platinum can be gotten in about 12-15 hours if you use one of the online guides. There is no online trophy aspect to the US release. NOTE: Trophies can only be achieved with a US copy. Japan import trophies can only be achieved with a Japan PSN account. All other asia imports have NO trophy support.
In closing. I felt like reviewing Afrika because the few other reviews you can find have low raitings. But when you read them you can see many of the points made are about the games style and not it’s content. It can be very hard to locate a copy but if Afrika sounds like something you might like keep a lookout in your local game shop.
Written by: Sinlock
- News Contributor