AVATAR: The Game - Cheat Happens Game Review
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AVATAR: The Game
PC, Playstation 3, XBox 360, Wii

Reviewed on: PC

Developer:
Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Rated: "T" for Teen



CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
   
   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
   
     

James Cameron is no slouch when it comes to storytelling and development. The director, behind such movies as Titanic, Terminator and Aliens has made a name for himself crafting some of the world’s most legendary movie worlds.  Cameron’s latest movie, Avatar is a literal hype machine, with all of Hollywood buzzing about its originality and style.

You would think then that the video game adaptation of the upcoming film would inherit some of its silver screen big brother’s traits. You’d also be wrong. Despite Ubisoft’s claims that the title has been in development for years, what we get is an uninspired, run of the mill third person action title with a new coat of paint. Yes, it’s better than most movie-to-game adaptations, but not by much.

As a property, the story behind Avatar is quite interesting. Jake Sulley is an ex-marine who has been paralyzed by a combat injury. When an experimental government program called Avatar offers Jake the chance to walk via an artificial life form under his control – he jumps at the chance, but it puts him in the middle of an interspecies  war between the Na’vi and humans over resources found on the planet of Pandora. As you can expect, Jake begins to identify with the Na’vi, even falling in love with a younger female named Neytiri. Does Jake side with his own race or the one he’s come to know and trust like family?

"...there’s little emotional attachment to the game, its world or its characters."

 
   

In a cool touch, the game gives players the option to play as either the humans or the Na’vi, which provides two very different stories and campaigns. The only problem is that the game asks you to make this decision so early in the game that your choice isn’t an emotionally motivated one; it’s merely a flip of the coin. Combine that with the fact that, at least as of this writing – Avatar hasn’t even hit theatres. By forcing players to make such an important gameplay decision without much evidence to base their decision on, there’s little emotional attachment to the game, its world or its characters. Of course, you will have the chance to play as both races before you finish the game’s campaign, so it’s not like your decision matters anyway.

Avatar’s developers want you to play through their game more than once, but you won’t want to – the missions are so bland and repetitive that you’ll pass them once and not give them a second thought. Perhaps that’s where the game stumbles more than anywhere else – there’s nothing memorable here. You won’t be making any game changing decisions, or taking part in epic battles; instead you’ll be treated to a barrage of fetch quests and uneven combat sequences. Oh and don’t bother working to see the game’s ending – both are among the most confusing and nonsensical I’ve ever suffered through.

Remember that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones is dueling with that guy wielding the sword but Indy just takes out his gun and shoots him? Yeah, prepare to be on the losing end of that battle a lot. The two campaigns in Avatar are completely unbalanced. Playing as the Na’vi means you’ll be using a lot of melee attacks and using animal hides to protect yourself. Any guess on how they stack up against the human’s helicopters, guns and missiles? Certain sections will seem damn near impossible, and you’re going to throw your controller down more times than you’ll admit.  Sure, you can upgrade weapons and unlock new attacks, but they all seem useless playing as both factions – the humans don’t seem to need them and the Na’vi’s upgrades just don’t seem useful. The worst part? There’s really no rewarding feeling for finishing any of the game.

"If there’s a bright spot to Avatar, it’s that the game is visually solid."

 
   

If there’s a bright spot to Avatar, it’s that the game is visually solid. While nothing incredibly spectacular, the game is on par, if not better looking than most third person action titles available today. The planet of Pandora is a mysterious one, and the visuals here are bright, interesting and inventive. If nothing else, playing the game and seeing the lush worlds is a great commercial for the movie – hey it is a tie-in product isn’t it?

There’s a multiplayer element to Avatar, but you’ll more than likely play it once and give up on it before long. All your online gaming staples are here – but like the rest of the game, the developers didn’t do anything to make the game stand out; there’s nothing here that you haven’t done or can’t do in other titles, only better.

With its inventive world and story, James Cameron’s Avatar could have been one of the few interesting licensed gaming projects in recent years, but instead we get an uninspired paint by numbers third person action game. If you see Avatar the movie and really want to take a trip back to Pandora, you can’t miss with the game adaptation, it has the movie’s visuals – it just doesn’t have the heart. 

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: Unlimited Health, Ammo, Easy Kills, Add XP

I’m not a very religious man, but I’d like to thank any deity that’s willing to listen for the Cheat Happens trainer.  Using the features inside the trainer, the game isn’t as painful to play through.

Playing the game as the Na’vi tribe isn’t exactly an easy task thanks to the human’s high octane fire-power but thanks to the unlimited health, ammo and instant kill cheats, the battlefield has been leveled a bit. Don’t feel like minding the map on countless fetch quests to gain XP and learn new skills? Go ahead and throw on the add XP feature to bypass some of the game’s less than fun areas.

 

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