Afrika Exclusive Review: Forever Watching The Beautiful Horizon

Watch out. The lion is attacking a gazelle. Don’t get too close, there will always be other pictures. Afrika is a world full of promise and everlasting excitement for photographers and advocates who enjoy the relaxing sensation of a blissful calm in nature’s beauty. For PlayStation 3 owners, this exclusive title by Rhino Studios is undeniably one that shouldn’t be missed out on. As photographers stationed in Africa, players will be equipped with ironically only Sony camera’s and secure laptops in order to embark in a journey to collect evidence of how animals interact and form the community that amazes so many. Run around in the open landscape that stretches for thousands of miles capturing photos of all sorts of animals, impressing the sheer scope of size and power that comes from the innovation that is Afrika and a duty as simple as capturing the wild for what it becomes as the game progresses. Not being good with the camera doesn’t need to be your forte to appreciate the vast wilderness that the circle of life’s habitat has to offer and imbue yourself into the most enlivening title for the PlayStation 3 by far.

Enter our main Zoologist photographer stud Eric Duval, and find yourself in the base camp with our plump guide in a hat and Anna Stanley, another Zoologist that you can play from the character selection screen.  Around the camp is a consortium of equipment for use out in Afrika. The medical station is just around the corner in a little shack, in case players get hurt out there. Afrika is beautiful from the opening cut scene, to the over-arch fly-by view to the base station, but something slightly awry becomes noticeable. No one can speak. Literally, there are no voices for A.I. persons and only Japanese text throughout, and a lot of it. Good thing we know Japanese. There’s a big buzz and proposals are the epicenter. Proposals for animal research come via the Jambo Navi E-mail system, nothing too complicated to navigate through. The video of an animal is presented and it’s as simple as finding and capturing the photos of an animal from the video. While the capturing sessions may seem easy enough, the true spirit of Afrika lies ahead in the rough lands

As the difficulty level rises with the proficiency of the photographer, the demands become much more vivid. We might be asked to take pictures at uncanny angles, some that can face some risk. Quite possibly one of the best things about Afrika is the sheer variety in not the equipment we use, but also the amount of ways we capture animals for our missions.

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Sound recordings, a camera attached to a car, and many more are just a few ways we can do things. It’s not easy being a photographer after a while, and the increased proficiency scale really makes us want to be this person in Afrika, getting better with our job out in the wild’s fury. We took our female tour guide with us to the first plains of the sub-Saharan regions of the Kijuwa Plains. We are given a standard camera after we accept the beginning proposals and head off in our Land Rover for some action.

The photography isn’t the only best part about Afrika but it’s also the equipment advancement system.  Money is important to buy better equipment or newer cameras with different focals.  You will have cameras and plenty of camping gear to choose. As you accept missions you gain money for your hard work. At least some organizations are kind enough to provide equipment such as tripods that are free with the payment added on.

While our tour guide is driving, we’re in a rush to dash at pictures using SIXAXIS controls as the jeep is bumping along. Once we’re out and about to our destinations, we’re free to go as far and wide as we want to capture our animals on film or find them, even if it becomes night in the process thanks to a Day and Night cycle system. There is invisible walls to the gaming world of Afrika, but everything is big enough so it does not feel like there are. The game further makes use of the PlayStation 3’s graphical capabilities to process animals in the kingdom to unreal expectations. As we approach animals, they’re simply just realistic. Nothing is scripted with everything being a dynamic dance. If you run up too close, cubs might run and the mother might defend the cub, signaled by DualShock 3 warning the player. These small things make Afrika something to really “WOW” towards.  The camera controls are straightforward. Always take good angles, keeping the controller steady, or the picture goes out of focus and is completely useless.

Once the pictures are taken, they’re added on to the laptop for evaluation.  Time for some natural selection as we choose the specific pictures requested which are scaled on an alphabet system, A being the best with earning the most money for the higher level. Evaluation is based on: Angle, Target, Distance and Technique. When we get all of these to “marvelous” we are in the big money for such a great job as well.

As time goes on and more and more missions are completed, there are several unlockable clips and photos of these animals in real life that can be kept in the “Animal Library” for the Zoologist that loves to keep a diary. Another thing Afrika incorporates is a massive National Geographic Photo and Video gallery and guide to all the animals in the game as we find them for further information on the field. How not to approach, when they’re the most vulnerable in conditions, everything we need to know is here.  For anyone who does not read Japanese, it might be very difficult to get into the sheer environment of Afrika if you do not read this handy guide on the animals beforehand. Some really great things can happen with the knowledge in our guide and our journey into Afrika.

Simplicity of the situation with the mastery of the camera takes realization. It’s important to know some simple things from the camera such as AutoFocus, Shutter Speed, White Balance and a couple of other things, and the helpful menu interface doesn’t complicate the controls and skills required for the game to be played. As you become more accustomed to roaming the world of Afrika during day and night freely without proposals hanging over your head, the learning curve is fairly reliable on experience. The more you snap, the better you get.

Afrika is anything but a point-and-click game, giving it a realistic experience that makes anyone who gets it craves for a Safari adventure that the game fully realizes. With a completely massive and endless scale of the world, and an Afrika with no bounds, the photographer’s dreams of capturing beauty and the kingdom come to life in this well-balanced and extremely stirring title that will depart players with the sense to never leave the landscape again. Look at us, we are still here. Watching the sun go down across Afrika’s horizon.

Afrika: I Can Do This All Day

by Stuart Blair

It is as easy to say that Afrika is a must have for all PlayStation 3 owners. We were happy when Sony Computer Entertainment Japan sent us these copies as we were always curious about this title even in the UK team Day 1. The game requires a vast amount of camera knowledge, but the guide is there through and through. The best part ends up being the free roam, when you do not have to constantly take pictures or fulfill proposals. Just stand and admire the view, or walk around. Afrika is just a huge world and having spent about ten minutes running carefully, we were just in love with what such a title is capable of in terms of interactivity and just presenting a stunning display. The camera system is a prize for me as I personally love photography and was so into it with light saturation and additional stuff that makes this game more than likable to the highest degree. It is too bad this game will not come out in Europe or the U.S. as we found out at the Games Convention 2008 because it is a AAA title that everyone should experience.

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