James Cameron's Avatar: The Game Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC | Wii | PSP | DS
James Cameron's Avatar: The Game box art
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.

James Cameron's Avatar: The Game screenshot

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.

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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.

By Tony Capri
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.6
Graphics
At first glance, Avatar will make most folks do a double-take when they consider this is a Wii game. However, a sluggish framerate and ugly cutscenes drag down the visual experience often.
3.3
Control
Combat and stealth controls are decent, and use of the bow can be pure joy. Flight mechanics, poor collision detection, and other issues mar the adventure significantly.
2.9
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
In a word: average. The voice work is uninspired and sounds forced. Musical themes and sound effects do little to add excitement to the gameplay.
2.6

Play Value
It's a short adventure, and when compared to the other consoles, Wii owners are essentially getting half a game. The local co-op is a nice addition, but the complete lack of extras makes this an expensive extension to James Cameron's new mythology.

3.0
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Peer deep into the heart of Pandora and see James Cameron's universe, from your own perspective.
  • Compatible with Wii MotionPlus and the Wii Balance Board


  • Screenshots / Images
    James Cameron's Avatar: The Game screenshot - click to enlarge James Cameron's Avatar: The Game screenshot - click to enlarge James Cameron's Avatar: The Game screenshot - click to enlarge James Cameron's Avatar: The Game screenshot - click to enlarge James Cameron's Avatar: The Game screenshot - click to enlarge James Cameron's Avatar: The Game screenshot - click to enlarge James Cameron's Avatar: The Game screenshot - click to enlarge James Cameron's Avatar: The Game screenshot - click to enlarge

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