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Friday, August 6, 2010

The Last Airbender Wii Game Impression

The movie and game may be called The Last Airbender but make no mistake, this is the true Avatar. Based on Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender the movie and game roughly follow the events seen in Book 1: Water of the animated series. Unlike many movie game tie-ins The Last Airbender from THQ takes a slanted approach by putting gamers in the role of exiled Fire Nation Prince Zuko as he searches for the Avatar, the last Airbender named Aang. How does The Last Airbender hold up as a game and how does it hold up as a piece of a fan favorite franchise, let’s take a look …

Gameplay – The action switches between third-person run and beat-em-up action and some on-rails first-person shooting sequences in both single and multi-player components. Gamers progress through the game following movie events from Zuko’s perspective and learn fire and later airbending. Different movements are eased into gameplay with the remote for a more interactive experience. A bit of stealth comes into play when Zuko puts on his mask to become the Blue Spirit, a ninja alternate personality that allows Zuko to carry out his ambitions. There is an arena mode which allows gamers to take on waves of enemies but the meat of this game lies in the story mode.

Graphics – Last generation and not in a good way. Yes the Wii has graphical limitations compared to other systems but seeing titles like Mario Galaxy and MadWorld shows great looks are possible on the Wii and sadly The Last Airbender just fails to deliver. Forcing the real world look of the movie into the game leads to stiff, corpse like player models and gray, barren environments. Another game of destroying crates, good times … or not. The movie did carry a heaviness in its look and feel, darkness of war and this feeling translates in-game.

Sound – Music is decent but not worthy of a CD purchase while the voice work delivers quite well. Movie cast Dev Patel (Zuko), Noah Ringer (Aang) and Aasif Mandvi (Zhao) all lend their voices and it really helps establish the story, put some emotion into the character models. Quite a pleasant surprise that such solid voice acting was delivered on the Wii for a movie based game.

Design – Sadly as with most movie based games the look, feel and environments are set. Environments are dark, bland and not really inspired. The use of the Wii-mote for bending moves is well done but otherwise nothing new to see here folks so move on.

Miscellaneous – Fans of the cartoon and franchise will enjoy the unlockable images. There are 100 movie concept images to find lending some re-playability.

Overall, for Wii owners that are fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender this title is worth a play through after seeing the movie. For those who don’t dig the Avatar and Aang’s adventures, have no interest in seeing the movie then pass, this game is not for you. It would have been easy to craft a quick direct movie game but taking the time to flesh out Zuko’s story is a nice treat and worth attention even with the lackluster graphics. Not a bad title but one that falls into the more typical movie based games category … not bad, not great but somewhere in-between.

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