James Cameron's Avatar is getting a video game adaptation courtesy of Ubisoft, complete with movie appropriate stereoscopic 3D, should you have a TV that supports such a thing. For those without, expect stock third-person shooter action meets alien genocide.
In Avatar, you'll play as an RDA soldier, essentially tasked with killing every indigenous life form on the planet Pandora that crosses your path. Fortunately, these creatures have been given intimidating names like viperwolves, sturmbeasts and hammerheads. That they generally attack on sight—and this includes much of Pandora's vegetation—helps you feel a bit better about the whole thing.
It's all in the matter of science and progress, of course, as Pandora's rich mineral deposits are needed by an overpopulated, over-harvested Earth. The only thing standing between the RDA's raping of Pandora are beasts of increasing size and the indigenous humanoids known as the Na'vi.
We got a chance to play the Xbox 360 version of James Cameron's Avatar: The Game at Gamescom this week. We also played the Wii version, which features a different take on the adaptation, which we'll cover later.
While playing as an RDA soldier, gameplay is mostly standard third-person shooter stuff. The jump, fire and reload buttons are all where we've agreed they should be, an easily controlled over-the-shoulder view offering a familiar perspective while navigating through Avatar's world. You'll lay waste to Pandora's flora and fauna with machine gun fire, pistols and flamethrowers, with a set of special skills to mix things up.
You'll be able to heal your character, make him nearly invisible, Predator-style, as well as call in massive air-strikes with those skills. They're toggled by holding down the L1/left bumper and tapping a face button. They'll also take time to recharge, to ensure balance.
During our hands-on demo, we did plenty of viperwolf slaying and clearcutting with our standard weapons load out. We also got a chance to hop into one of the mechanized AMP suits, a towering contraption that offers better firepower and resistance against attacks.
Unfortunately, a massive hammerhead knocked us out of the suit, forcing us to wrap up the human portion of the demo on foot. We were then prompted to switch to the playable Na'vi character.
The alien creatures, which stand ten feet tall and sport deep blue skin, aren't armed with the same level of technology as their human opponents. They're more melee focused, with the exception of a bow and arrow set, requiring the player to be a tad more stealthy when engaging in battle. We were quickly put down when faced with a squad of AMP suits and infantry, forcing us to restart that portion of the demo.
The hand to hand combat works just fine, with a trio of short range weapons available at the Na'vi's disposal. I preferred the dual blades, which offered a more rapid fire attack.
The world of Pandora is full of lush, brightly colored vegetation, all of which is rendered beautifully. Avatar is said to use the Far Cry 2 engine, which excels at offering realistic plant life. There are few complaints in the visual department, with the exception of the game's erratic frame rate, which appeared to suffer more during the Na'vi levels.
James Cameron's Avatar: The Game is slated to hit the U.S. in November, Europe in December. We're guessing there's still plenty of work to be done on the game, so that problematic frame rate has time to be smoothed out. We'll let you know.
Ubisoft's adaptation of the film feels like the developer is making a concerted effort to offer more than a half-assed cash-in. That said, it doesn't feel particularly groundbreaking, more like a functional third-person shooter with a bit of a twist.
Keep an eye open for our impressions of the Wii version of James Cameron's Avatar: The Game.