With the popularity of James Cameron’s Avatar, a game based on it was bound to happen sooner or later – that wasn’t a doubt for anyone. What most people were wondering though, was whether the game would be able to live up to the quality of the movie, or would it go down the road many movie-based games do, and fail by trying to adapt to a movie-like experience too much.
The game is a third-person shooter with some elements of an adventure game mixed in, starting with the player choosing their character from various races. One notably lacking option is changing your name – you can only pick from a set of predefined ones, which was probably done because of the way dialogues work in the game. Gameplay varies greatly depending on the choice of race, which adds to the game’s replay value somewhat.
There are RPG-like elements, such as gaining experience and leveling up, though this happens in a more sectioned manner and not in real time like in traditional RPGs. One negative aspect of the gameplay is the lack of on-demand saves – instead, you’re forced to reach the next checkpoint to save your progress, which can be a great deal of discomfort for those who like to play games for a few minutes before going out to work/school/etc.
Graphics and System Requirements
One of the major selling points of the game is its 3D support – like the movie, the game can be watched in 3D, though you’ll need a 3D-enabled monitor or television to make use of that – and considering the popularity of these units, you may have to enjoy the game in the way you do every other one – your 3D limited to what the engine renders on the screen.
In this regard, the game performs nicely – the graphics look good and on par with today’s games, and the game looks like it’ll age well if its overall art style is to be of any indication. The engine is not very well-optimized though, especially on the console versions – some common criticisms aimed at the Wii version have been the constantly poor framerates. The game requires a pretty good computer to run it as well – you’ll need a GeForce 8600 GTS and a Core 2 Dueo E8500 @ 3.16GHz, plus 2 GB of RAM if you want to play it smoothly on the PC – so plan accordingly.
The game suffers from some occasional bugs, and you may find your savegame data corrupted if you’re unlucky enough. On a more positive note, try out the competitive play as it’s bound to bring you some fun times with your friends.
It’s not quite the shining example of what a game based on a movie can be, it’s not one of the classic failures that this “genre” spawns either – just try to look at it as a game on its own and don’t compare it to what you got from the movie as an experience – and you should enjoy Avatar pretty well.