With each big new movie that hits the silver screen nowadays comes the inevitable slew of merchandise, including computer games, and Avatar is no exception. A multi-platform title will be catching a ride on the film's hype train later this year, but with expectations for James Cameron's latest creation running so high; can the game hope to compare? Cubed3 recently got the chance to take a look at the Wii version at the Eurogamer Expo in London to find out.
Karn Bianco (Previews Editor)
The sections of Avatar on show in the demo we played served to show off some of the game's key gameplay features - particularly its stealth and combat mechanics. Unlike the high definition (Xbox 360, PS3, and PC) versions of the game, which place you in command of a human foot soldier, Avatar on the Wii takes place from the opposing perspective. As a Na'vi - a native of the lush alien planet, Pandora - you can use the environment around you to your advantage. Stealth plays a key part in the game, for example, and it's possible to evade enemies by hiding in long grass.
Upon emerging from cover, your Na'vi counterpart can unleash sneak attacks by tapping the appropriate button and quickly waving the Wii Remote in a slashing motion. More direct combat is certainly possible, but if you're not careful you can quickly find yourself outnumbered and outgunned. Once you've located your bow, long-range attacks also become an option. The Wii Remote serves as an excellent interface for aiming shots, and the combination of close- and long-range fighting is really quite satisfying after a bit of practice.
Adam Riley (Senior Editor)
It was quite sad to see that since the Wii version of Avatar was placed next to Red Steel II (almost the same build as the one Cubed3's Karn Bianco played a few months back), as it was pretty much ignored by all and sundry. In fact, I was loathe to the idea of giving it a try as well, purely on the basis that there have been so many sub-par movie tie-ins of late that though of yet another one hardly piqued my interest. Thankfully, since the Red Steel pods were constantly occupied, it gave me no choice but to either stand around bored, or give Avatar a whirl and I was certainly glad I did try it out.
During the short time I spent with it, Avatar felt rather like a cross between Nintendo's last few entries of The Legend of Zelda series and Capcom's Monster Hunter titles. The main character roamed around a lush forest area, with players encouraged to practice general moves - such as swiping the main character's weapon around using various swift motions - as well as learning to crouch in tall grass for protection, and zooming the camera outwards slightly to inspect local surroundings and make good use of the context sensitive action button that allows for interactions. As far as I could see from this early play-test, Avatar on Wii is definitely shaping up to be a highly enjoyable Third-Person Adventure and certainly one of the most impressive movie tie-ins this year.
Thankfully, it seems Ubisoft has ensured that the Wii version of Avatar: The Game will stand apart from its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 counterparts by playing to the system's strengths in terms of core gameplay and tight motion control. Visually, however, the game still impresses with a considerable amount of care evident. Certainly one to keep a close eye on!
I got it for Christmas... played two campaigns so far... on the third where you learn to fly with Balance Board - that is the hard part... all in all very good so far...