Developer Rhino Studios and publisher Natsume have finally brought Afrika, a photography sim, over to the West, though perhaps they left the fun on the plane.
Afrika puts players into the role of a photographer on safari in Africa. Players are given the option to be male or female and change their name, but that’s about it. There is also a mandatory installation upon starting, and a 5 minute auto-save creation process. Once that is finally out of the way, players begin their first day in Afrika.
Players begin with a basic camera, binoculars, a GPS and a tour guide who will drive them where they need to go. Players are also given a partner–whichever person wasn’t chosen in character selection. The term “partner” hardly seems fitting here, however, as this person does nothing but sit in the tent and give orders. There is also no voice work present in Afrika, which makes the game feel a bit cheap and lifeless.
The time spent with Afrika is very repetitive. Each in-game day, players wake up and accept photo requests through email on their laptop. These requests range from a picture of a giraffe drinking water to a picture of a hippo yawning. While there are multiple missions available, only one can be active at any given time, and the tour guide will only go to the area that corresponds to the active mission. Once the mission is completed, players head back to the tent and email the photos to the client, who grades them based on distance, angle, target and technique. Players are then given an overall grade and a set amount of money based on that grade, which can be used to purchase new equipment such as cameras, lenses, and storage for more photos.
The missions are repetitive and flat-out boring. Waiting 15 minutes for an animal to move a certain way will put most players to sleep, and even the most patient players will be annoyed by the 2 to 3 minutes it takes every time the game is saved. Players who are used to saving their games frequently will have to break that habit.
The game just never gives players any exciting experiences and never really shines. When players finally do get to explore without the aid of a guide, they will experience some of the worst driving mechanics in the history of gaming. The jeep players drive feels like a toy car, as it cannot take tiny hills without almost stalling, small brush causes it to have issues, and controls are very unresponsive.
The photography controls, though, are not much better than the driving, which is a bad sign in a photography sim. Square brings up the camera, the right joystick zooms in and out, and the R1 button shoots pictures. The whole process feels very sluggish and the snap of the camera feels delayed as well.
The animals themselves, which are the biggest part of game, rarely feel alive. Getting too close to some of them will cause them to run away or scatter, but most of the time they move in very repetitive patterns, and more often than not, they get caught on and clip through each other. The draw distance does nothing to help, as spotting an animal from a distance through binoculars makes them look even more robotic and lifeless.
Lifeless is the perfect word for this game, as it really has nothing to make it worth playing. There are missions where players are in the jeep, following a cheetah in pursuit of prey and snapping pictures as it runs by, but even these missions are not very exciting. There is no sense of danger in the game, as animals will never kill the player. An animal attack will cause players to simply pass out and wake up back at the tent, ready to take more pictures, and hitting an animal with the jeep will simply cause the jeep to stop, and players will get a stern talking to from their partner.
There is absolutely no fun to be had in this game. It is filled with glitches, the animals are stiff and lifeless, and the controls are horrendous. Players’ money is better spent on a trip to the zoo.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score