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Gamertell Review: James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game for Wii

by Kirk Hiner on Feb 8, 2010 at 10:03 AM

Title: James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game
Price: $49.99
System: Wii
Release Date: December 1, 2009
Publisher (Developer): Ubisoft Entertainment (Ubisoft Entertainment)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for mild language, mild suggestive themes and violence.
Pros: Pretty like the movie, varied gameplay, you can’t fall off ledges.
Cons: Horrible camera kills the multiplayer option, has little to do with the movie, linear level design grows tiresome.
Overall Score: Two thumbs sideways; 74/100; C; ** out of 5

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game is unique among movie tie-ins in that, rather than basing it on the movie, it appears to be based on the trailer. Or maybe just the one sheet or concept drawings. I don’t know but if you buy this expecting to play through the rather thrilling adventure that is Avatar, prepare to be disappointed.

I See Me Through Your Eyes

Since everyone on the planet has seen Avatar (the movie) at least three times, I won’t bother setting this up to much. Your premise here is the same as with the movie: Humans = greedy and bad; Aliens = blue and good.

Fair enough, because it’s likely true. If there are alien races out there who are more selfish and driven by profit than we Earthlings are, then it’s probably best we just cease all space exploration this very instant.

In this game, the humans are contenting themselves with stealing totems and artifacts and capturing the occasional banshee. This angers the native Na’vi, so a few of them take it upon themselves to reclaim their tschotckes, even if they have to kill a bunch of humans to get it (and they will).

Most of the levels take place on the planet floor and high in the trees, although you’ll also do some banshee flying.

Breathing New Life, Flying High

The bulk of the action in Avatar involves hitting security guards with your staff, although you can also attack from a distance with your bow. There’s a minimal amount of leveling up you can do to each weapon to make yourself more proficient with them, and you’ll need to, because the ability to use stealth attacks (ala Tenchu: Shadow Assassins) quickly passes to the need to just run around and smack people, and that’s somewhat unfortunate.

Thankfully, none of the ground levels require you to properly time jumps or balance yourself on tree limbs. This is all automatically handled. You can’t step over cliffs or slip to the forest floor, so you get to focus on the enemies and how to best take care of them. Aside from letting you enjoy the game, this also makes sense within the story since the Na’vi know how to move quickly and quietly through the forests. It wouldn’t make sense if your warrior character couldn’t.

Then, there are the banshee levels in which you fly along a predetermined path with some slight movement along the way. These basically require you to avoid the fire of enemy gunships by tilting the Nunchuck attachment while aiming your own projectiles with the WiiMote. Unlike in the movie, your arrows can damage armor but most of the damage will be done during chained button events. Hit the wrong button? Don’t worry, the event will repeat itself until you get it right. Or die.

If you own the Wii MotionPlus and/or the Wii Balance Board, you do get to use them during the game. The The Wii MotionPlus controls the hellfire wasp, which allows you to cause damage to the enemy from a distance without risking the health of your character (although there are numerous plants scattered about to replenish your health). The wasps are kind of cool, so use ‘em if you got ‘em. The Wii Balance Board can be used to control the banshee, but this is just awkward and pointless. Don’t bother turning it on for this game.

Your Love Shines the Way Into Paradise

The best aspect of Avatar is how lushly defined this world is. The graphics are brightly colored, richly textured, and quite attractively designed. The world is fun to explore, even if you don’t really get to explore it. And although there are some frame rate issues when the action gets intense, they never hurt the game so much that you wish Ubisoft would’ve sacrificed some of the visual appeal for smoother action.

What does hurt the game is the camera, which is frustrating to handle on single player mode and downright unusable when playing with a partner. I can’t begin to count the number of times the camera fixed itself in front of Rai’uk, not allowing me to see where I was going. When playing with a partner, it would end up behind some vegetation and just sit there as we were being attacked. It was so annoying that it at one point drove my six-year-old daughter to tears. How about that, Ubisoft? You made my daughter cry. I think you owe her an apology.

So I Offer My Life As a Sacrifice

James Cameron’s Avatar The Game isn’t bad for a movie tine-in, it just doesn’t really serve a purpose. As a chapter outside of the film, it doesn’t need to exist. The story is not compelling and it won’t make you feel bad for these particular Na’vi. Pandora is pretty to look at but it’s so linear throughout that you’ll feel more like you’re exploring a cave than a huge jungle.

The fighting is decent but is hampered by a poor camera, especially in two-player mode, where it’s almost unplayable. The game never gets boring, however, thanks to decent pacing and the frequent changes in gameplay style.

If James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game were a movie, I wouldn’t recommend you pay to see it in the theater. If you were to find it on TV, however, it’s a decent way to kill a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Site [James Cameron’s Avatar The Game]

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