The Legend of Korra (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 24.10.2014

Review for The Legend of Korra on PlayStation 4

Platinum Games, it is the premiere action game developer in the industry. A development studio that houses the talent that gave the world Bayonetta, God Hand, Viewtiful Joe, MadWorld, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and Vanquish - with such talent, Activision hired them to develop a digital download licensed property based off the hit Nickelodeon animated TV show, The Legend of Korra. Activision has a long history of mediocrity in publishing games that are licensed from TV shows or motion pictures. Mass produced and given extremely tight deadlines, rarely do these kinds of games deliver on fan expectations or even on competency in their design given the restrictions. Does Platinum Games break the mould with its first licensed property? Cubed3 reviews the PlayStation 4 version of The Legend of Korra.

The Legend of Korra is about mysticism, martial arts, Taoism and beating the lights out of mooks with the power of the elements - Earth, Wind, Fire and Water (no Heart!?). Simplistic and easy to read cel-shading make The Legend of Korra easy on the eyes, turning this into then ideal action game for those who may not be old enough to play similar games like Bayonetta.

From the start of the game, players are introduced to three different types of gameplay - Pro Bending, which is like a dodge ball style mini-game; the Naga riding sequences, which consist of third-person auto running/platforming and dodging obstacles; and the main gameplay mechanic, which is the beat 'em up action, and indeed the main event. While Korra may handle a bit stiffer than expected, there are various talismans and accessories that can be equipped to make her handle more smoothly and faster. Why her fluidity wasn't set like this by default is confusing, but perhaps it was a means to ease younger players into the pace of this type of character-action game.

Screenshot for The Legend of Korra on PlayStation 4

When Korra has acquired all her bending elements, then the game truly opens up and begins to shine. All four elements can be switched to on the fly smoothly during combos, making a flurry of effects paint the screen and annihilate large squads of Chi Blockers. The combat itself does have a few of the classic Platinum Games familiar move-sets, too, as well as a few other flourishes that they are known for, such as 100-fist pummels and their risk-reward countering/doge. The scoring system is also fairly lenient and doesn't count for damage taken or record how many times Korra died.

While The Legend of Korra does play pretty well, it doesn't reach the heights or depths of the likes of The Wonderful 101. The mechanics are reasonably restrained and so are the modest visuals. Graphically, The Legend of Korra looks like what a PS2 game might look like running in 1080p with 60fps. The environments feel very plain, flat and mostly barren, except for the few odd cars or crates that can be destroyed. Not to mention there are very few enemy types and only one boss (the final boss). This is where the restrictions really show in The Legend of Korra, compounded by the fact the game can be beaten in about three hours, but for $15, it does feel fair, especially since The Legend of Korra does have quite a bit of post-game content to keep players invested and replaying. The Pro Bending league mini-game opens up to be pretty much a whole extra game with unlockable items and costumes for Korra's campaign, which come in handy for her extra hard difficulty.

Screenshot for The Legend of Korra on PlayStation 4

The story found in The Legend of Korra is somewhere fitting between "Book II" and "Book III" in the series canon. The game had the original writers develop the story, as well as the help of the animators of the studio Titmouse to provide the cut-scene animation. While it is incredible to see traditional animation in video games once again, the style that Titmouse has implemented is fairly bland and not as fluid as one would hope. Often kind of cheap looking and sterile, missing much expression, the traditional animation is lacking, and there probably would have been better results if Platinum Games used their in-game character models and engine to animate the cut-scenes themselves.

As for the story itself, it would probably be a footnote in the grand scheme of the Avatar universe. Some passing mentions of events and characters means that players who have never even seen an episode won't be clued in - not that it matters because the story itself is fairly self-contained, but not entirely in a vacuum. The basic gist of the story is mostly there to serve the gameplay, which is to reacquire Korra's lost bending abilities.

Screenshot for The Legend of Korra on PlayStation 4

While The Legend of Korra may be a simple game aimed at younger gamers, there are still moments of legitimate challenge. The sequences when Korra rides Naga, for instance, can be quite testing towards one's reflexes as Naga accelerates, and with many instant death pits and walls, many players will be thankful for the generous checkpoints. Even the standard beat 'em up core game has some moments where Korra is faced with absurd odds where she is facing down a battalion of Chi Blockers, Elemental Bender Specialists and even giant mechs. It is these moments when The Legend of Korra takes the kid gloves off, cracks its calloused knuckles and becomes apparent of the Platinum Games pedigree.

The Legend of Korra has highs that are unseen in similarly-priced digital download games, and it is never more obvious when the final boss reveals itself and the final showdown begins. As always, Platinum Games displays its master in the art of the boss fight - even if it is the only boss in the game, the short journey and modest price tag make it worth it. While action game enthusiasts will still be found wanting after the entire experience, The Legend of Korra is the ideal gateway game towards the character action genre.

Screenshot for The Legend of Korra on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Activision would be wise to continue to have a working relationship with Platinum Games and to let them handle their future licensed properties. If The Legend of Korra proves anything, it shows that Platinum Games has the kind of talent that takes hog hide and can craft fine designer handbags from them. While the limitations of the small scope of this project are apparent, on its own it is a fine character action game that is worthy of a purchase. While it may not satisfy those who are experts in this genre, The Legend of Korra is an excellent game for younger players and will be undoubtedly be a gateway game for fast paced character action. Hopefully Activision will hire Platinum Games for future titles and will fix their reputation for delivering licensed, assembly line produced, soulless cash grabs. Korra fans are very lucky.

Developer

Platinum

Publisher

Activision

Genre

Brawler

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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