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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Into the Inferno of Avatar

Every popular kids TV show seems to have a videogame associated with it and now is the time for Avatar – The Legend of Aang to make its way on to the Wii. But will the game enjoy the same blockbuster success as the show?

Well, no not really! Like so many other TV and film licenses Avatar the Legend of Aang: Into the Inferno falls into mediocrity. Not for one major outstanding reason but for a number of small reason that will stop this game from being as loved as the TV show.

Into the Inferno follows Aang’s adventures from the final season as he and his friends set out on a journey to defeat the Fire lord once and for all. The game doesn’t really go into much detail of the story and as I haven’t seen the series, that’s all I’ve got to say about what’s going on in the game.

Avatar the Legend of Aang: Into the Inferno is very much a hack ‘n’ slash affair, with a bit of platform action and puzzle solving thrown in for good measure. Each level in the game allows you to play with two characters which you can swap at anytime by pressing the d-pad. Rather then just being a gimmick this approach from the games developers actually serves a purpose. Each character has unique skills and ability’s which will be required to progress through the level. Such as an Earth-Bender is required to make earth ledges so you can climb walls, or a Fire-Bender who uses fire to melt a metal door that’s blocking your path. Having two characters at your disposal like this also allows you to swap when one of their health bars falls to a critical level, allowing you to continue the battle.

One of the best things about Into the Inferno is that each characters skills are available from the outset, there’s no having to unlock or learn them which is nice. Using the special skills of Aang and his friends is very simple and requires you to point at sources such as water, earth, or fire in order to utilise it. It’s then a simple case of move the Wii remote whilst holding the B button to perform the desired action. However, sadly the games control system is rather clumsy and lacks accuracy, which often leads to frustration as pointing at your chosen location in the games environments, can be overly awkward when there are a lot of objects around. You can’t help but feel that the developers haven’t made the best use of the Wii remote as most action in the game simply resorts to button mashing.

On a more positive note the game features an upgrade system and a rather enjoyable flying mini-game that is accessible anytime via the games world map. Upgrades can be acquired to improve the characters abilities, by spending coins you collect during play. The games shop also allows you to unlock artwork which can be viewed in a gallery. The flying mini-game is fairly good and sees Aang flying around Ember Islands on a glider, there are three mini-games, Target Shooting in which you have to shoot hot air balloons as quickly as possible, Boost Racing – in which you have to complete a set course within a time limit and Free Flight mode which is self explanatory. Although the flying mini-games have been included as a gimmick and don’t advance the games storyline, they are something of a welcome break from the repetitive story mode.

Another weakness that throws this game onto the spiralling pile of mediocre TV licensed games is its relative ease. Enemies provide little challenge and even very large groups are easily dealt with. Bosses too are fairly easy to dispose of and provide very little challenge once you figure out how to deal with them. This coupled with the fact that the game is also fairly short means that Into the Inferno can soon pass you by.

The games graphics aren’t the best to grace the Wii,, character models are pretty poor, despite being animated fairly well! The games special effects are nice to watch. However, this is spoilt by the fact that the game palette used is pretty limited and environments are bland, repetitive and lack detail. The games sound quality, sadly follows that of the graphics, character voices aren’t the best and the constant repetitive phrases can become too much to bear after about an hour of play.

Like many TV show and film licenses before it Avatar – The Legend of Aang: Into the Inferno fails to capitalise on the success of the show and instead of concentrating on making a quality game for Avatar fans the developers have simply dished out a mediocre at best game in order to cash in on the license! Only the most hardcore Avatar fan need apply here.

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