Avatar fails to live up to hype

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 December, 2009, 12:00am

Amid all the hype surrounding James Cameron's movie Avatar, critics are complaining there is too much focus on the CGI and not enough on the script.

Players will be equally disappointed with James Cameron's Avatar: The Game, which also does not live up to the hype. It's not bad; it's just not as great as it's been advertised to be.

Sure, the 3D effects are impressive, if your hardware has sufficient crunch-power. But as far as actual game action goes, Avatar is a squib. Years in the planning and production, the resulting game is little more than a run-around, shoot 'em up.

The game is a prequel to the movie but does little to fill in any background to the story. The planet Pandora has 'unobtainium', a precious resource people are willing to kill for.

The RDA (Resource Development Agency) is doing the mining and the locals, the Na'vi, are unhappy about it. Humans are unable to survive on Pandora, but the RDA, a sort of rent-an-army, uses avatars. These are genetically bred human-Na'vi hybrids. A human links to the avatar as if it's a second body.

Gamers are thrust into the same universe, Pandora, using different characters - some of which they can invent - and different storylines. Starting out as a character called Ryder, a signals specialist with the RDA, players move between being human and avatar characters before making a choice to side with the natives or the RDA.

As a rookie, players perform mundane tasks and kill things to gain experience points, which allow them to level up and to earn the lethal bling - weapons and armour.

If they choose to take their chances as their Na'vi avatars, their go-to weapon is the bow and arrow. Holding the trigger will make it snap to targets, which is a great help hunting camouflaged RDA.

Machine guns are also occasionally available, but the staff is the standby for melee kills - the most exciting part of what's too often boring gaming.

As an RDA, on the other hand, you get firearms to shoot your way to victory. But this action is less than satisfying. The lack of gun-sight view and unpredictable hit detection coupled with the stupidity of the AI characters - on either side - will leave competent players frustrate0d.

At least the game has a multi-player mode, which makes for more interesting gaming. As with most things in life, it's best if you have friends to join the fun.