|System: PS3, X360, PC, PS2, Wii, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 1, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
You'll dispatch most enemies, however, by simply moving in close to them, pushing the B button when prompted, and then gesturing with the Wii Remote. The mechanic is reliable, but enemies are, much like in the Tenchu series, dumb as rocks.
There are also a handful of flying sequences in which you're riding atop a pterodactyl-like creature, avoiding mines and picking up power-ups along the way. The approach to flight control is interesting, but ultimately it doesn't work. You'll pitch and roll by gesturing with the Nunchuk, whilst using your Wii Remote to aim and shoot. Movement with the Nunchuk is unresponsive, and the entire process is discombobulating. (Note: At the time of this review, we were unable to test out the functionality of the Wii Balance Board.)
Drop-in, cooperative play is a nifty addition, though, one that seems to be more prevalent in Wii games these days. Since Avatar is a stealth action game, you and your teammate will really have to coordinate well together in order to make things work. But, multiplayer can be a good bit of fun when paired up with the right partner (local only - no online multiplayer). The camera remains fixed on both characters at all times, so you're limited in terms of strategy. Still, multiplayer is a nice little bonus that greatly appreciates the value of the package.
As you make your way through the world of Pandora, you'll acquire orbs, which function as the game's currency. A simplified skill tree is in place that allows you to upgrade your various abilities. It's implemented in a very uninteresting fashion, and the bonuses you receive don't feel all that tangible or rewarding.
When it comes to presentation, I found myself often ruminating, "Wow, those are Wii graphics?" Conversely, I often found myself lamenting aloud, "Wow, those are Wii graphics?" Many of the environments exhibit a gorgeous level detail, with individual blades of grass waving in the wind, and the draw distance is truly impressive, suffering from no pop-in whatsoever. Unfortunately, there are ample moments of ugliness as well - everything from sloppy, pre-rendered cutscenes, to blocky textures and rigid animation. The worst graphical offender, however, would have to be the consistently sluggish framerate that too often impedes gameplay.
Musically, the game is completely unremarkable, and none of the sound effects and explosions impress. Themes sit in the background, doing a decent enough job supporting gameplay, but there's nothing here you'll remember even minutes after you've shut the game off. The voice acting is barely serviceable, and there isn't much of it. The entire soundtrack for the game is patched together with seemingly little care or attention to detail, which, ironically, is in keeping with most other elements of the overall production.
James Cameron's Avatar is sure to offer ample entertainment on "the big screen," but the adventure for Wii will be easily forgotten. The storytelling is abbreviated to the point of irrelevance, leaving only a flawed gameplay experience to fall back on. The stealth action is competent, but it's formulaic and repetitive. There are no extras or unlockables, and ultimately James Cameron's Avatar: The Game is an anemic package with little to no replay value.
CCC Freelance Writer