Afrika First Impressions

It almost looks just like the real thing, minus the bugs.

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Afrika was initially unveiled during the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo and was released in Japan during the summer of last year. Natsume is now bringing this wild safari to a North American audience, in which you play as a photojournalist on assignment to get the best shots possible. We had an opportunity to get a quick look at what Afrika has to offer at the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo. With licensed cameras and lenses, as well as photorealistic graphics, it was as if we were onsite, except without the bugs and the risk of malaria.

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Who's Making This Game: Afrika was developed by Rhino Studios and is published in North America by Natsume.

What the Game Looks Like: The animals are what strike you the most when you play this game. You'll find zebras, lions, and giraffes lounging in the sun or playing with their young. We didn't get a chance to see the different times of day, but because there are assignments that require you to take a sunset shot, we can only imagine how breathtaking the visuals will be in this game.

What There Is to Do: As a photographer, your job is to take on assignments and get the best possible shots. If you'd rather not, you can skip these assignments to venture out into the wild and take pictures for fun. However, completing assignments will unlock new cameras, lenses, and areas to explore. There will be more than 100 missions to complete, which can take up to 60 hours. A variety of animals--up to 70--can be tracked, and there are grasslands, marshes, and forests also to explore. National Geographic had a role in the creation of the game to ensure that the facts are accurate and the animal behaviors are as realistic as possible.

How the Game Is Played: Whenever you feel like exploring or taking on an assignment, you can hop into your jeep and head out. Because the cameras you'll be using are licensed Sony cameras, all the settings are what you would find on a real camera. Using the Sixaxis controls, you can frame your shot and the game's grading system will give you a rating. As you progress, new photographer techniques will be shared so you can capture that perfect moment.

What They Say: Explore the wildlife of Africa in this revolutionary game!

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What We Say: We're not sure if Afrika will be as revolutionary as claimed, but it is a fun concept and could be a useful learning tool for those who have the patience and the motivation to learn the techniques of becoming a wildlife photographer. Even if you're not into the photography aspect, this could be a virtual zoo where you just scope out big kitties all day. If you're itching to camp out in a virtual tree to wait for that perfect sunset shot, then look for Afrika when it is released in August on the PlayStation 3.

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