Sometimes when I am reading reviews on certain games on websites, I find myself, along with many other gamers or commenters, disagreeing with the reviewer. I find some games get rated harshly, and well, I think Avatar: The Legend of Korra, published by Activision and developed by Platinum Games, is one of those games. Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and I am not going to send death threats to their front door because I am not a brainless idiot, but hey, we can all not agree on everything. Anyway, to me, this is one of the better games of this year, and what is more amazing is that it’s based off a cartoon show. Luckily, Activision was smart enough to hire the talent of one of my all-time favorite developers, Platinum Games, the guys behind Bayonetta, Bayonetta 2, the upcoming Scalebound, Mad World, Anarchy Reigns, Vanquish, and The Wonderful 101. Now, without saying much, what do I personally think of this game? Is it a strong contender for one of the best license games out there? Is it the best game from the developer behind one of my all-time favorite action games? Well, you will have to read on to find out.
The game’s story takes place between season two and season three, and puts you in the shoes of the most recent Avatar, Korra, voiced by Janet Maureen Varney. After a rousing game of Pro-Bending, she is then ambushed by Chi blockers and a mysterious old man. Unfortunately, this leads to Korra not being able to use her bending skills, which lets her control earth, fire, wind, and water. It is up to Korra to stop this evil man from taking advantage of the Spirit World and take over the living world. This is where I would love to tell you how amazing the story is, and that they actually got one of the writers of the show, Tim Hedrick to do the story. Unfortunately, you will have to go into the criticism part of this review to hear my issues with the story.
To no surprise, The Legend of Korra is a fast-paced action game. I mean, this is Platinum Games after all, the kings of modern day action titles. You will control Korra as you travel through eight levels, fighting off chi blockers, spirit creatures, and from time to time, giant robots. Your main powers are of course, your bending. As you go through the game, you will be able to unlock all of your bending powers. Now, in any other game, the powers would all feel the same, but luckily, Platinum Games did their homework, and every element feels different when you switch through them. Water-bending is more about light, but long-range attacks. Earth-bending is more about being connected to the ground, and pulling off slow, but powerful moves. Fire-bending is all about multiple super-fast aggressive attacks. Air-bending is all about being an all-around fighter. You can switch between the four elements to your liking. Combat feels especially satisfying, with a counter-move that you can pull off to execute one-hit kills. I seriously mean that the combat is satisfying. If you don’t believe me, then counter-attack an enemy on a motorcycle! It feels oh so good when you do that. Once you fill up a special meter, you can activate the Avatar State, where you are invincible and can pull off super powerful attacks. The enemy variety is small, but it has a decent amount of different enemies, so the combat doesn’t get too stale. You have our close-range fighters, long-range fighters, electricity-wielding fighters, three different kinds of spirits, chi-blockers on motorcycles, and sometimes you get to fight gang leaders and giant spirits. The game also has some variety in gameplay where you ride on Korra’s giant polar bear dog through endless runner-style levels, and you can even play through a pro-bending league and fight actual teams from the show. The game isn’t too long at about four or so hours. You can also unlock extra costumes and buy a multitude of items to help you on your quest.
Graphically, it looks great. The cel-shaded animation makes the game really look like the show. There are even 2D animated cutscenes that can tie the levels together. I really like that element of the presentation, because any other developer would have made some terrible looking in-game cutscenes. The voice work is done well enough. They brought the actors back from the show to voice their respective characters, and there are a few good lines here and there. I also liked that when you beat the game, they all individually say ‘thanks for playing the game’. It’s not a huge game changer, but it’s a nice little touch.
So, what is wrong with this game? Well, the story is the absolute worst aspect of the game. It is almost as lazy as Titanfall’s story. Granted, you get a cool villain and a great boss fight at the end, but still, the story is said to take place between season two and three, but it really doesn’t matter. What is the point of having one of the writers from the show on the project if the story has no real substance?! Come on Activision, why pull this garbage if you can’t give them the time to craft a solid story? Every other character besides Korra is pretty much pointless. They didn’t take advantage of any of them to give the game more variety or story opportunities. I know this is a budget title and all, but it wouldn’t have killed Activision to give Platinum Games more time to elevate the status quo of licensed video games of this generation. If you hated the camera in action games like Metal Gear Rising, well, you’ve got the same problem here. It isn’t pulled back enough, and I found myself getting hurt or killed because the camera got into an awkward position. The levels are also very linear and lifeless. Sometimes, you get cars driving around in the background, but there are no civilians in the city sections. I also hate the fact that you pretty much fight the same gang leaders and the same giant robots throughout the entire game. Sure, the giant robots and gang leaders have their own little fighting styles and patterns, but still, you fight them all multiple times.
So, is this a good game? While the story is worthless, and the gameplay can feel somewhat soulless, Platinum Games still pulls off super fun combat, and the endless runner levels and pro-bending tournament gives the game a little more soul than any other developer would have given the IP. Currently, it is $15 on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. If you want to wait for a price drop, I won’t blame you, but if you are a fan of the cartoon, and want a solid action game based off the license, then you should download this game. It’s too bad Platinum Games wasn’t given a bigger budget for the game, since I feel like they could pull off a super amazing action game that could be on par with Bayonetta 2. Heck, I think Platinum Games and Bioware could team up and make an Avatar game that can be set up like Jade Empire, a hidden gem from the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox generation. I will write an article about that! Anyway, if you want a solid action game, and one that is based off of one of the best cartoons around, you should check this game out!
This game gets a 7 out of 10.