Wild Earth: Africa
This safari-themed sim is a pleasant surprise.
Super X Studios
Videogames are like buses. You wait ages for one to come along and then two come along at once. Except, no buses are called Africa. Or go to Africa. And no-one was probably waiting for a game about Africa, the reputed origin of the human race (although that story could make a great game). Not to mention that the PS3's Afrika is not quite upon us yet. But you get the point - gaming has rather suddenly 'noticed' Africa.
So, what is Wild Earth: Africa all about? Well, for a start it's probably like no game you've played before. That's if you can even call it a game as it teeters like a newborn giraffe, straddling the divide between education and entertainment before collapsing in a heap into the canyon that is edutainment. But before you wash your mouth out with soap, bear in mind that this is an enjoyable and fun experience. Should it matter that it is also informative?
"There's no violence, no time limits, no animals attacking you and definitely no shooting - other than your camera, of course."
You are added in your task by constant voice-overs from your guide Professor James Conners and Wild Earth staff writer Valerie Deveraux. Both of these provide details of your next required photo, as well as useful background information about the animals and their habitat, all of which gently leads you towards your photo opportunity.
Played like a traditional first person shooter, instead of a cross-hairs though your view is through the camera lens, with the mouse controlling your ability to look-around and the cursor keys (or W, A, S, D if you prefer) controlling forwards and sideways movement. Zooming (or Sniper mode to some) is also available and although this sounds like standard gamer fare, the subject matter and gameplay is not. There is no violence, no time limits, not even any animals attacking you should they spot you (mores the pity) and definitely no shooting - other than your camera, of course.
Following the gentle prodding of your guides, you must work your way around your environment tracking animals if necessary and finding the best position to take your picture. Your main objective is handily always displayed at the top of the screen, be it to capture on film giraffes as they graze, lions hunting or even just to photograph a mound of elephant dung. There are also secondary objectives to complete should you wish. These are trickier to find especially as the game progresses and although they can all be found on the way to your primary objective, some will require further exploring of the the environment and attention to detail.