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'Avatar' a titanic letdown

Dec 22, 2009

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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AvatarThe more and more I see of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’, the less and less I want to check it out. From the trailers, it looks like a mash-up of other films like ‘Star Wars’, ‘Lord of the Rings’ and maybe a smattering of ‘Robotech. It doesn’t help that the Na'vi aliens look like blue versions of Jar Jar Binks to me. Ugh.

‘Avatar: The Game’ follows closely with my impressions of the film in that it too is a jumble of many game types and none of them are carried off well. Beyond some sketchy cut-scenes, the game really doesn’t fill you in on any of the backstory.

As army recruit Abel Ryder, whose parents were apparently big fans of pornography, you are sent to the toxic jungle planet, appropriately named Pandora, to assist with an invasion. To cope with the hostile atmosphere and the inhabitants, the RDA militia has created Avatars - remote controlled human-Na'vi hybrid bodies.

That’s about all you learn before you are faced with a decision that alters the course of the game. Do you assist the militia in their war to plunder Pandora for its rare and valuable resources or do you rebel against them and join the Na'vi? Even though the decision seems like a no-brainer, the game does offer two separate campaigns. As the RDA, your arsenal will consist of high-tech laser arms and consequently, it is all about shooting stuff dead. As the Na’vi, it is clubs, bows and other close-range, primitive weapons, so that story arch is more of an adventure platformer, sorta. One thing both sides share is none of the controls are precise and none of the weapons are accurate do to a glitchy camera and feeble combat system.

AvatarNo matter which path you decide, ‘Avatar’ is basic slave quest after basic slave quest and there is very little difference between the RDA or Na’vi missions. Go collect those DNA samples. Go blow this up. Go kill those guys. Go rescue that guy. Go find this item. Sooner or later you will feel like the RDA or the Na’vi version of a short order cook. So many things to do and none of them are really challenging or vaguely appealing, unless you are trying to find your way around the tortuous map.

There is an experience point system and unlockables that reveal more about the mysterious Pandora but the advancements generally take care of themselves and even if the planet looks marvelous, the Pandorapedia is just an extra I don’t need. I would rather the developers spent more time on the combat system and the missions than Pandora’s details.

‘Avatar’ sure looks great. ‘Avatar’ sure sounds great. It just doesn’t play great.


Avatar'Avatar: The Game'
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: UbiSoft
Developer: UbiSoft
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site:

Rating: 6 / 10




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