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Avatar

A few fellow Limiters and myself were given the opportunity to test out this bad boy well before its release date. At the time, I must say that I was more than a little surprised by just how much action Ubisoft had managed to pack into a 20-minute demo.

Unfortunately, with the release of Assassin’s Creed II, this product (from the same developer) simply fell off gamers’ radars. The movie was incredible, and I’d wager that plenty of fans just didn’t want to be let down by another movie-to-game dud.

But is James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game truly a monumental failure? Or is it simply an unappreciated, albeit unfinished, action title?

At last year’s iDEF convention, the boys from Gamer Limit were treated to a smorgasbord of goods from the Ubisoft team. Assassin’s Creed II, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Avatar, and Red Steel 2. Surprisingly, my pick for best in show was Avatar. Of course, since that time I have managed to play through both Avatar and ACII, and my opinion has naturally changed. Unfortunately for Ubisoft, a killer demo doesn’t always mean a first-rate game.

Jumping into the game I was immediately stunned by the low-quality graphics, especially for a game that has – apparently – been in development for years. I’ve read plenty of reviews that are calling Avatar’s visuals “eye candy”, so I can only assume that they played it on a regular TV; high definition exposes the game for what it truly is. After being enraptured for almost three hours inside James Cameron’s 3D brainchild, it was more than a little upsetting to discover a game that looked more archaic than the original Gears of War.

Avatar

That said, the planet of Pandora is thrilling to behold. If you are able to put aside the spellbinding look of ACII for a couple of hours, you may just be able to become immersed inside this unique world. While linearity is a massive factor in Avatar, there was no real point where I felt I couldn’t venture into the forests if I had wanted to.

And believe me, there were many times that I wanted to. As soon as you receive your first orders, you are smacked in the face with the cold fish of reality: this is a movie-game. Storyline has been relegated to a role of least importance, with the developers (read: James Cameron telling people what to do) aiming for more of a “visceral experience” if I may be so condescending.

Male or female, human or Na’vi, the story progression is linear, straightforward, and balls-out easy. The omission of a difficulty setting is startling, as about three hours into the game you will have an epic arsenal of weaponry and skills at your disposal, facing enemies that never seem to level-up. Avoiding the fact that missions are extremely short (10-15 minutes each, for the majority), your journey into the world of Avatar is likely to be a short one.

Avatar

But that isn’t to say that the game is without its moments. One highlight is most certainly the vehicles. After about an hour or so of gaming, you will be faced with the choice of siding with the Na’vi, or sticking around with them murderin’ sons of bitches, the human race. Depending on your selection, you will be privy to several transportation options, many of which prove to be the most exciting part of the game. Which is why I have to ask: why the hell can’t you shoot while in/on a vehicle? It’s almost as frustrating as the Mongoose in Halo. Without the ability to attack while travelling, you become cannon fodder for your enemies, making the entire process completely redundant.

Engagement is also another hit-and-miss feature in the game. While there are plenty of unique weapons for both the Na’vi and humans to use, the lack of a zoom function, and glitchy aiming controls, makes battle more of a hindrance than exciting.

If there is one shining feature of the game, it is the voice work. Plenty of characters from the film return, including a great cameo from Sigourney Weaver, and they do the best that they can with an awful script. Creating reality in a fantastical world is a difficult task, but there is a sense of honesty behind the story, despite some flawed writing.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much more to praise in Avatar. If there is one piece of advice I could give gamers, though, it would be to play as the Na’vi when given the opportunity. Their melee and ranged attacks offer a much more challenging experience than as a gun-toting human, and the ability to ride some of their creatures is far more rewarding than an ATV or hoverboat.

Avatar

When James Cameron announced that this game was going to be just as epic and successful as his film, I’m sure that more than a few people scoffed. His ambitions for a 3D game were realized, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that has actually played it through in those optimal settings. We were able to have a look at the game in 3D at iDEF and, aside for a mild headache after only a few minutes of viewing, it simply wasn’t all that and a bag of potato chips.

Our search for a brilliant movie-to-game title will have to continue for now. I wanted so much to enjoy this game after seeing its potential last year, but Ubisoft Montreal has really dropped the ball on this one; enjoy their other 2009 release instead.

Rating Category
5.5 Presentation
Despite representing one of the most visually spectacular films in recent history, the game looks like it suffered from release date constraints.
How does our scoring system work?
4.5 Gameplay
Repetitive, formulaic, and unoriginal. These are all words that could be used to describe Avatar’s gameplay.
8.5 Sound
Chance Thomas wrote the score for the game, and his experience shines through. The voice acting is also above average for an action title.
6.0 Longevity
A regular playthrough of the game should only take you around 10 hours, more if you are keen on exploring the world. The ability to play two separate campaigns does add an extra element of lastability, but after you complete the game initially, you probably won’t be heading back for round two.
5.5 Overall
The bottom line is that there are plenty of other action titles that are more unique, more refined, and more enjoyable. Rent if you must.

  1. What a major let down. The movie was effin awesome though!

  2. What really sucks about this being bad is that there is SO MUCH potential for a game based in the Avatar universe to be good. Cameron has created an absolutely fantastic world in Pandora, and I want to experience it for myself. Hopefully someone else will get control of the license at some point and actually create a good Avatar game that people want to play.

  3. I wish Cameron was a hardcore gamer: if he was as serious about games as he was his films, maybe this could have been prevented.

    @Shawn
    Everything you just said.

  4. i enjoyed the world of the film enough to give the game a try even with the boat load of average reviews it has attained

  5. The film was an obvious win, first off. It’s just too bad that companies are being caught up in the whole movie marketing business. I understand that there is a fairly large market for games of this nature, but why do the ALL HAVE TO SUCK? It’s one thing to put a piece of crap together to make a quick buck, but if you’re going to do it, then sell it for $5 at Burger King with a kid’s meal. At least it will keep people from getting ripped off AS much.

  6. avatar Jordan Garski

    A bad game for an overrated movie? Seems about right.

    Sorry, but Avatar is to movies as Killzone 2 is to games. It’s very very pretty but has a very lacking story in the originality department. Seriously, its just Pocahontas-in-space.

  7. I would have to ask…was it possible to make a 100% original movie in 2009? I mean, almost everything that I can think of that’s come out in the past 2 years or so is based on a book, video game, or has elements that have been seen in other films or historical events. I don’t want to start an Avatar debate, but I don’t really see what they could have done that was completely original. Aliens, lovers, destruction of a species/race for money, the Avatars in general…all could be considered unoriginal. The movie reminded me of the Matrix, Halo, and Fern Gully all rolled into one, but that doesn’t mean it’s garbage. If you can come up with brand new original content that would sell, I suggest you contact MGM/Disney/Paramount. I’m sure they would be happy to make you a multi-millionaire.

  8. avatar Jordan Garski

    Dont get me wrong, it told its story well. Its just, the story has been told multiple times over multiple formats already.

  9. avatar Jordan Garski

    In short, its a good Cameron movie but I’d rank Aliens, Terminator 2, and even Titanic ahead of Avatar in terms of storytelling.

  10. In my opinion Avatar was one of the best films of the year, and considering it’s barely been out 3 weeks and is already the #3 grossing movie of all time, I think a lot of other people agree with me. I am pretty confident that there are big plans for the Avatar universe, and I’m pretty sure at some point a developer with a true love for the source material will pick up the license and make a great game.

    • avatar Monu

      Awweh, your nephew is abulostely gorgeous! Such lovely expressions you’ve managed to catch there. (: Also – hope you can sort the problems with your computer soon!

  11. @Jordan

    Those are all quality films (even though I personally greatly dislike Titanic, I appreciate what it is). It’s much better than say..Pearl Harbor? That movie was horrible. The story of Aliens was original when it was released. So was the Terminator series (and still is thanks to Christian Bale kicking some serious ass in the newest addition). Titanic is just a movie based on a tragic historical event, so I would argue that most of the story had already been told before the release of the movie.

    If I remember correctly, Aliens produced a few decent games back in the day, and the T2 games pretty much sucked hard. Thank god they didn’t make a Titanic movie. That would have been very wrong in many ways.

    At least you could chock up the old-school games lack of substance to limited technology. In 2009, there were no excuses.

  12. Avatar was a decent movie, but not at all “best of year” material. Especially when we saw such unique films as District 9 and Inglorious Basterds. Avatar was pretty, sure. But in terms of storytelling, depth, and writing, it really lacked that finishing touch.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the whole 3D experience. But I just think that a lot of people got caught up on the hype train and simply COULDN’T say the movie was just average for fear of being looked upon as an idiot by peers. And don’t get me started on how much money was spent in such a difficult financial time for the world.

  13. The status quo continues

  14. avatar Justin Rei

    @Simon Jones, are you really complaining about the amount of money spent on a movie, to produce it, and then the revenue gained from it? If we all had same mind as you and decided we didn’t want spend money on things, we’d be royaly fucked. Lots of business would stop, people would lose jobs. YES THEY spent alot money… 300 million or whatever it was, but how many jobs did they give people? It’s not like that 300 million dollers is just thrown in the air and everything else with it, it was used pay for things and people who worked on the movie.

  15. @Justin

    You make a good point. But I’m not talking about the jobs that were provided (for what? A year? Maybe two?). Rather, it is the excessive nature of spending half a billion dollars on a single film.

    Don’t tell me that all that money went back into the pockets of the workers. Sure, it put a bit of cash back into the economy, but the bottom line is that there are far better ways to invest that sort of money into the country so that it will reap benefits for years to come. Old Mr. Cameron and his producer friends are sitting on some pretty thick wallets right about now.

  16. avatar Leighton

    I’m waiting for a just amazingly awsome movie. Avatar wasn’t it. Although Wanted wasn’t really original it was one of the best movies i’ve ever seen.

  17. avatar Leighton

    is gamestop the only major game store franchise in the south east?

  18. avatar markzenegar

    I had heard more about the James Cameron’s Avatar. I was searching for this game’s Walkthrough and Tips in the internet and I got the best of it from this site. He is a hybrid from your DNA and also a Native species of Pandora called as the Na’vi. As you travel in the Pandoran Jungle you will explore more about the different creature of Pandora, the Na’vi and their struggle about saving the Pandora from the Corporation.
    To know more about this you can move to:
    http://www.techarena.in/guide/24291-james-camerons-avatar-game-walkthrough-tips.htm

    • avatar Issame

      If there was a best class and race, then surely you’d only see one race and class being paleyd by everyone eh? Don’t ask silly questions

    • avatar Prekash

      I tried to do this, but everytime I try to link my grvaatar to WordPress I get this error message:It looks like you don’t have the XML-RPC API enabled in WordPress, or perhaps the website located at isn’t powered by WordPress. Please log into your WordPress admin panel, then go to Settings > Writing > Remote Publishing and check the box next to Enable the WordPress, Movable Type, MetaWeblog and Blogger XML-RPC publishing protocols.’Am I doing something wrong?

  19. avatar steven lopez

    i wish you could be an avatar more than once dissapointing:(

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