James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game review
Hey James...you might want to take your name off of this!
Posted 3 years ago By - Nelson Hum
We’ve all been here before. A highly-anticipated, big budget movie and the inevitable video game tie-in. And after that, the ensuing crappiness. Stop me if you’re heard this one before.
But with established developer Ubisoft helming this tie-in product, the game stood a decent chance of being good in the hands of even the most skeptical reviewer. The 360/PS3 version of the game has received some respectable scores but note this immediately: Avatar for the Wii is a completely different game in both design and execution. So how does our trip to Pandora on the Wii turn out?
Avatar can essentially be broken down into two gameplay modes: stealth/action and Panzer Dragoon-esque shooting sequences. Unfortunately, neither of them are executed particularly well.
The stealth/action portion of the game takes place on the jungle surface of Pandora. However, you don’t really get to explore your surroundings that well since your movement feels more akin to an on-rails shooter than 3-D action platformer. You’re limited to where you can actually move and jumping and climbing are contextual only. This kind of hand holding really kills any sense of immersion and, strangely, makes you feel boxed in.
The stealth mechanics are straight forward but painfully telegraphed with a “They’re near” voiceover every time you’re about to encounter an enemy. Your character then crouches and slow walks automatically. It’s more just ultimately drains the fun out of stealth, as you don’t get to feel sneaky and are left watching the game be sneaky for you. The A.I. isn’t particularly bright either: if you cover happens to be blown, you can always retreat a few steps into some tall grass and the enemies will be completely oblivious to you again. The stealth attacks are basically one motion quick time events. This gets old quick.
If your cover happens to be blown and you have to duke it out, you can melee your enemies with a staff. However, the combat here is just as unsatisfying. Your attacks look boring and many times you transition out of your slow crouch-walk into regular movement very slowly. This becomes a huge liability when you’re trying to engage in the game’s hand to hand combat. You can upgrade your skills by defeating enemies or the collect-whatever-experience-points-happen-to-be-in-this-game system. However, none of the new skills are dynamic in any way and half the time you’ll be wondering if they work at all. Most of the time you’ll just waggle the Wiimote like mad and hope for the best. Lining up shots with the bow is painfully slow and the control scheme for it is highly unintuitive. There are a few features available to you if you have the Wii Motion Plus or the Balance Board (controlling wasps or your flying creature for the shooter portions respectively) but since I have neither, I can’t really comment on it.
The flying/shooting portions of the game (where you mount your Banshee creature) are a bit more serviceable but still not great. The flight controls/aiming are a bit wonky as you use the tilt sensor in the nunchuk to steer and not the analogue. Huh? The quicktime events can also be annoying as sometimes the instructions are obscured by enemy copters. These section offer a nice dose of variety but still aren’t much better than the stealth gameplay.
The camera is also a sore spot in this title. It moves painfully slow and can get “caught up” on anything and everything in the game. There are times when you’re just begging for a certain viewpoint in order to set up an ambush but you can’t because the camera is jammed up in some foliage. And to top it all off, there are a few broken design oversights in the game. At one point, I fell off a rock and into the river below. Despite my best attempts, I could not get back onto the rocks. I had to reset the game and restart at my last checkpoint. Maybe I should have just kept the game off…
Graphics and Audio
We all know the Wii is not an HD machine but Avatar looks terrible. The graphics look low-res, blocky, and, dare I say, N64ish. Everything seems a bit blurred and out of focus and details are lacking on a lot of the character models. The colours are also a little bit muted, which is unfortunate as you would expect a jungle setting to be lush and full of colour.
The audio too is a mess and characters lines are often muffled and unclear. The music is forgettable and doesn’t really invoke a sense of wonder, awe, or exploration (which is a shame considering the effect the movie is going for).
The cutscenes are equally awful as they’re based off the game engine. Speaking of the cut scenes, a more coherent script would be been nice, especially at the start. You’re basically on the warpath to retrieve your people’s artifacts but the game does little to connect you with the character and the story. In fact, when you first start the game, I wasn’t even sure if I was playing a character from the game (you’re not) or if the events happening are before, during, or after the plot in the movie. The game also has an ending that would make even a die-hard Sopranos fan throw a fit.
I’m a big fan of co-op games so I will give Avatar some points for offering instant drop-in/drop-out co-op. However, the feature almost seems more like an afterthought, as the camera can barely handle what is going on and will zoom onto whoever is going into a quicktime attack. It’s confusing and jarring for the other player. As far as online goes, there is no online component whatsoever. You get to stew in your frustration alone or with a friend right on the couch beside you!
While the movie seems to be living up to its hype, Avatar for the Wii is doing anything but that. It’s a classic case of the poor video game/movie tie-in that fails to execute on almost every level, which is unfortunate since the Xbox 360/PS3 Avatar games turned out to be half decent. If you happen to have your own personal Avatar, have them suffer through this game and go play the other version yourself.
- Two separate game types
- Uninspired/repetitive gameplay
- Terrible controls
- Low audio quality
- Frustrating camera
- Co-op is poorly planned
1 year ago :: (WiiWare) Zombii Attack
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1 year ago :: Rayman Origins
1 year ago :: The Adventures of Tintin: The Game
1 year ago :: Disney Universe
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2 years ago :: The Conduit 2
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Release Date : 2009/12/01
System : Nintendo Wii
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Ubisoft Montreal
Category : Action-Adventure
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10