Avatar

Information

Release date:
2009-12-01
Genre:
Action/Adventure Fighting First-person shooter
Publisher:
Ubisoft
Developer:
Ubisoft

Avatar: The Game: The Preview

Avatar-mania is going to be coming down upon us like a pall sooner rather than later now, and it won’t just be limited to the world of cinema. Our beloved hobby will be inundated by the Avatar marketing juggernaut just like everything else. Knowing that, compounded with the underwhelming previews and James Cameron’s “epic” monologue at E3, it makes it difficult to actually root for Avatar. Still, regardless of whether or not the movie ends up being a let down, the game seems like it may be set upon the path of being a rare mark in the win column for movie tie-ins.

Akin to the movie, you play as both the big blue alien Na’vi and the quite normal sized and un-blue human Resources Development Administration during their battle on the Na’vi moon Pandora. The games storyline takes place two years before the movie itself and will feature at least two separate branches to it. At some point in the game you will be able to choose to side with the human RDA or the Na’vi warriors, and both will obviously offer a different plot, different missions, and entirely different playstyles. The humans use strategy more focused on advanced technology and awe-inspiring weaponry, where the Na’vi use less traditional means based on skills and powers. Although they both accomplish roughly the same thing.

There will be huge battles as either side using the strengths and weaknesses of your chosen alignment, which will hopefully offer a large enough variety that it will make you desire multiple playthroughs and extend the games shelf life. Being able to offer reasons to continue playing the game after your initial conquering of the title is a huge boon to a movie tie-in, and honestly I can’t think of another example that offers such a drastic amount of additional replay as an entire branching storyline. Although, while one would assume that both concurrent plots would have to be entirely different, it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that the differences aren’t as drastic as they should be.

Avatar uses a modified Far Cry 2 engine and uses it well, especially in reference to the aesthetics. The jungles of the game are lush, vibrant, and obviously trying to gain a place at the upper echelon of gaming graphics. Considering Cameron has stated that Avatar will be the best looking movie ever, it only makes sense that so much effort goes into making the graphics of the game just as advanced. Whether or not it accomplishes that is hard to say, but it certainly does look great. Of course, the biggest “innovation” is the 3-D. The entire game will be available to play in the third dimension, although if that doesn’t make you giddy like a school girl you can still play it in standard and not have to wear red and blue colored glasses for 20+ hours of gameplay. Thanks to Lady GaGa though, that is actually a very fashionable choice- as is not wearing pants. That makes me pretty fashionable every time I play video games. Or watch movies. Or take the bus. Anyway, pants or not, the 3-D graphics will at least be interesting.

While this isn’t necessarily an adaptation of the movie, consider it a prequel, I’m still as skeptical as any other gamer when it comes to the 3-D presentation of Avatar: The Game, and I’m sure you’ve heard about it since Cameron and Ubisoft can’t stop talking about it. Anytime a game makes a bigger deal out of its newest “innovation” instead of the game itself, I worry. Especially with something as inherently gimmicky as 3-D. Add that to the fact that this game is, regardless of what it may feature or look like, a movie marketing tie-in and it is hard to really be excited for it. Gamers have been burnt more times by movie based games than an American in the Amsterdam red light district, so there is nothing wrong with the hesitation the gaming community has in regards to this game.

But hey, at least there won’t be any airbending going on.

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