Patience is among one of the things in a relaxing hobby.
I like to think that I have a knack for photography. It's a hobby that I probably wouldn't want to take seriously, because I don't have the time and resources to show it off to all my friends. Regardless, when in the moment with a camera on hand, it's fun to take pictures. People could agree right? That's why everything has a camera attachment now a days.
The Basis for the game is simple. Choose man or woman, survey the land and look for animals based on tasks given to you via e-mail. I selected the male and affectionately named him Jason, a name that I've come to enjoy by ridiculous means, thanks to Heavy Rain. I sit through a simple little day of how this game is gonna go down, and then I'm free to play. Everyday a new mission. At the end of the day pictures get sent out, I get graded, I get money. Rinse, Repeat.
Afrika isn't exactly an exciting game. Some could probably complain that it's not even a game at all. The biggest comparison that it's always seemed to get is that it's like Pokemon snap. I've never played that game, but if I did, I have a feeling that Afrika is less then that. There's a pace to it that is very slow. Actually consistent if you think about it, with the pace being deliberately slow, since the moment you turn it on. Patience is a very key word for this game, and you better have a lot of it.
Maybe it's because this is pretty much a first generation PS3 game right? The load times are horrendous and the Frame rate is as choppy as a flip book. Your model could be running on ones when everything else looks as if they're running on eights to fourteens. At it's core it's a very small game if you think about it. There is nothing to it but the graphics. That's probably the biggest thing that sucks about it, it's only a pretty game. Which is great for being a game about photography, but there is a serious lack of personality. Sure, you only have 2-3 characters around you, but where is the voice acting? Animals don't do anything except for 20 scripted events which are I guess the "boss fights" of the game. but they're spread out with the rest of these missions that are stand-point-click. I guess I could be unfair here because I've never been on an actual Safari, and maybe that's what it's actually like. Lazy animals that do nothing. So I'm not saying I'm disappointed in that respect.
I am a bit upset, however, with the fact that the game doesn't let you have more fun than it offers. When you see it boast something like the Havok engine, you kind of want to play with the Havok engine. Right? Instead, everything is stiff. A great example is driving the Jeep. It's a very big chunk of the game because you spend the entire time in it going from place to place taking pictures, heaven forbid you didn't have a Jeep at all. The tiniest bushes stop you dead. Going up a hill can slow you down. An animal could run in front of you, and your passenger with stop your Jeep and tell you to not hit the animals because it's wrong... Which it is, but it's a moment that takes time out your driving, and could make you impatient. Animals are everywhere, don't be surprised if you keep hitting them by accident.
So... let's talk about Photography.
The most important part of the game, thank god it's competent! Aside from your beginning camera, all the cameras are real. The Alpha Series line of Sony cameras and lenses if you will. So the game does it's best to emulate the experience of what using those cameras would really be like. And if I took photography more seriously, this would probably be a bigger deal to me. Not so much in the Cameras themselves but all the lenses can always be swapped around to get you the shot you want to get. And you can either have your camera set to automatic functions (like I did the whole time) or you can manually play with the settings, for your own optimal performance. If you have an eye for it, and know how to handle a camera, then you could probably even get a little geeky over it.
As I previously mentioned, they have these moments called "Big Game Hunts." which are the more exciting events that take place. Moments like watching Animals fighting or chasing each other, and you sit there quietly hoping to catch the moment of impact, when the Lion's jaw goes around the Zebra's neck and takes it down. Throwing in some action here and there does manage to keep the interest in the game alive. Cause if you see one thing, then you're bound to see something else awesome happen. But there is a total of 20 of these moments. Which gives you 101 lesser missions. That could be enough, it's not like everything out there is boring, but I couldn't help but think, with something like that, the pacing would have been way better for the game if there were more of them or if they were better placed. You can go for so long without something else interesting happening, and some moments I could barely have the game on for an hour.
I like to imagine that now that I'm done, I'll just go back into the game and wander around taking all the pictures I want on my own terms. It's replay-ability really factors on that. you put all this time and effort into the game, that now it doesn't have to be a game anymore. Now it can just be a safari. You do get the chance to export your photos from the game and share them with your friends, so you always have an excuse to have mock Safari photos around. So with that in mind you could really try to hone your skill at gaming photography. That's the next best thing if you can't really go to Afrika, so you might as well make the most of it? Right?
Would I recommend this game? No. I like the game enough, despite all of it's flaws, but no. This not a game for a lot of people. The average gamer will probably hate it. The gamer that likes to think they have unique taste won't really like it either. Or, like it and be defensive about it. I like this game because it's not going to be a game for everyone. It's something I can enjoy on my own terms at my own pace and don't need anything more to come out of it.
That being said, I hope that Rhino doesn't just stop with this game. They have an interesting thing going here and all they really need to do is make some, if not a lot of improvements here and there. Give the game a personality or maybe even a soul. Maybe go on a Dinosaur safari if they want to broaden their audience. But whatever the next photography game out there is, they should take this one as the grounds to improve upon, and that will be fine by me.