Avatar: The Game Review

Posted on January 3, 2010 by


Hey, look! Space Marines! The originality is stunning.

You know how really good movies come out on a fairly regular basis? Yeah? And how the people who paid for it decide to cash in on that success even more by releasing a game of the movie? Good. Now, you know what’s said about games made about movies? Yes, that’s right. They suck.

So, what happens when you take a truly exceptional movie, as made by a man we know we can trust. James Cameron has been responsible for the Terminator films, Aliens, Point Break, True Lies, and of course, Titanic. You’d expect him to make sure that any game produced in conjunction with his beloved new movie Avatar, wouldn’t you? If you do, then shame on you. He has no control over things like that. Which means that movie executives can whack out a quick cash-in game, and don’t expect them to care about quality.

Let’s get one thing straight- James Cameron Presents James Cameron’s Avatar: The game by James Cameron, isn’t a bad game. What it in fact is, is a stunning example of sloppy mediocrity.

Next on BBC Two, the Smurfs get violent!

The game is set on (The imaginatively named) Pandora, an alien planet lush with thick vegetation. It’s populated by giant blue cat people called the Na’vi, who live in happy equilibrium with the enormous vicious man eating flora and fauna, and puts you in control of Lance Corporal ‘Able’ Ryder. You get introduced to a few characters, run around for a bit, try out your Avatar (Okay, the Avatar is a cloned Na’vi. A machine puts your consciousness into the clones body, and voilà) and shoot a few viperwolves. After a bit more running about and learning to use guns and vehicles and what not, you get to run around in your Avatar for a bit.

What comes next is a moment so blatantly obvious that it should have been signposted. You have to make a choice- side with the mighty humans against the peaceful Na’vi, or Fight the evil humans. Whichever choice you pick sets the course of the rest of the game- whether you spend it as a human or an Avatar. From there on, you pretty much engage in war against the side you don’t like, using giant robots if your human, and giant animals if your Na’vi.

The message of the whole thing seems to be ‘nature is great and love your planet- ohh, explosions, naked blue cat ladies and giant robots!’

The controls are like yelling at a drunken four year old who’s just been slapped with a rusty car jack by an abusive parent. Probably it’s father. Movement control is all over the place; apparently precision never entered the thoughts of those people you sometimes see in interviews who tell that ‘we’ve been playing it for ages as we developed it and we love it and it’s perfect’, who have all the mental capacity of the afore said drunken four year old. It’s rushed. Did they skip the beta testing altogether just to make sure it came out in time for the movie? That’s what usually happens in these cases. I’m expecting heavy patching in the future.

Look ma! No hands!

The graphics look (On my 28 inch TV) flat and bland, and the textures are rough, sickly colours. The big ‘thing’ about this game is the Stereoscopic 3D. You’re linked to Wikipedia there, but to be honest it’s pretty boring. The point is this- in order to use the Stereoscopic 3D, you need to buy a brand new, High Def Plasma screen TV that supports Stereoscopic 3D. That will set you back to the tone deaf and cat strangley tune of £800. Yeah.

Chances are pretty good you don’t own one of those, and neither does the man in the street, unless he’s a merchant banker with more money than brain cells. (Of course, with merchant bankers, tuppance is more money than brain cells, so…) so the game’s biggest selling point (besides being a quick cheap cash-in) is totally defunct, and sort of hateful. It’s like the game is sitting there and looking at you all smug saying ‘I’m so good you can’t afford to play me properly’. God, I want to burn it. With Thermite.

Even the menu interface is sloppy. Not terrible, not broken, just sloppy to the point of being irritating.

Characters are bland stereotypes, missions are bland stereotypes, vehicles, guns, enemies and the story itself are all- okay you get the point. It’s average. Par. It’s not the most horrible thing out at the moment (That title currently belongs to over-hyped crapfest that was Tony Hawks Ride) but it’s nowhere near as good as any of the other things you could spend your hard earned cash on. I would go as far as to say that there are other movie tie-ins better than this (Spider-man 2 for the Playstation 2 springs to mind). If you really loved Avatar: the movie, I guess you might want to buy this. It has a ‘Pandorapedia’ bit that tells you loads of extra background stuff about the universe and what-not which is more interesting than the actual game, and it does have a few brief bits of Sigourney Weaver (By which I mean appearances, they haven’t rent her limb from limb) so, yeah. I’m not going to recommend it. I didn’t like it. Rent it first. Or wait for Dark void in a week. It’ll be awesome, and it’ll only be £24.00.

Posted in: Games