Avatar: The Last Airbender


Review by Matt Paprocki


Action RPG

Graphics: 7

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 5

Overall: 5


Based off a growing Nickelodeon cartoon, Avatar is a simplified action RPG for a target audience of no more than 12 years old. Taken in as that, it succeeds in providing some mildly exciting combat, decent use of the license and general repetitiveness. Anyone looking for another X-Men Legends or Baldur's Gate will be sorely disappointed.

avatarps2.jpg (110457 bytes)With the ability to control a party of up to four characters, Avatar appears initially to have some depth to it. It takes some time to gain the full roster comprised of characters from the show, but those early moments are still fun to run through. Combat is simplistic, with new moves added as the characters level up. Switching to a different hero is handled adeptly with the d-pad.

Avatar's key problem is the extensive hand holding, an insult to any kid over eight. Secret areas are hardly a secret when the game indicates their location. A question mark appears over the head of the player's character. Training never feels like it stops, with constant reminders or the introduction of more basic mechanics as the game progresses. Unless this is a child's first game, even a young follower of the cartoon will be embarrassed while playing this.

Oddly, the menu system for adding new weapons, armor, or trinkets is complex and somewhat confusing. While the stat screen clearly shows the benefit (or lack thereof) of newly added equipment, this same screen includes a large number of categories and requires numerous buttons to navigate. It won't take long to figure out, but compared to the rest of the design, this in direct contrast to the rest of the title.

Avatar also falls victim to two other glaring issues. The lack of multi-player in any form, especially one that already includes a party system of multiple characters, is nearsighted. Other issues can easily be forgiven when in a decent game with friends - that's an inexcusable oversight.

The second is the sloppy feel to the combat. If the numbers indicating how much damage has been dealt didn't appear over an enemy, there would be little way to know a hit had landed. It feels as if the collision is suspect, even though it's nearly perfect. Limited animation on the cell-shaded models only increases the looseness of fighting.

Likely rushed to find its way to store shelves for a holiday season, Avatar is close to becoming an enjoyable franchise. Basic game play shows potential, yet also seems unfinished. If the inevitable sequels can build on this base, Avatar could end up as a series for both the key demographic it's reaching for and the growing audience for fans of action RPGs.


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Last updated: Friday, December 08, 2006 09:18 PM