Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Avatar: The Last Airbender--The Burning Earth (Wii): A Tale of Two Cities

Since Eli 6.2 and I have watched all the Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes together, I picked up the new Avatar game for the Wii last week.

There are two sections to these impressions. The first I wrote up on Saturday after about an hour and a half of play--I wasn't ready to post them yet, but I had some things in my head that I wanted to get down. I was going to play for another hour or so, then make additions/changes and post them, but the experience changed so severely that I had to write an entirely new section.

If you don't have kids, or if you're not a fan of the show, then Avatar: The Last Airbender-The Burning Earth isn't for you. But if you do, and you are, then this game is very, very fun. All the voices from the show are used, they sound great, and the plot also seems to be ripped from past episodes of the show as well.

Like I said, for a grown-up, that might be boring. But for Eli, getting to play through the same situations he's seen in the show is a real thrill, and with a mix of motion-based and conventional control, he gets to physically do some "avatar gestures" as well.

Even better, the game has co-op, so we're getting to play through it together. Aang is always there (I think), but the support character changes depending on the chapter.

In terms of difficulty, it's been very easy so far, but again, the target market for this game really isn't adults. There's no insta-death from jumps, and if you die during a battle, you just choose continue and start from that spot again. It's entertaining without being frustrating, and that seems to be just right.

Graphics are very plain, although the characters are modeled nicely. They're probably significantly better on the 360, but we've really had fun with this version, paticularly when you can do combat moves with motion control.

Eli entered the Avatar state once and then talked about it for an hour. He was thrilled.

This game is like a heavy stick repeatedly whacking your balls.

Difficulty goes way, way up. The use of motion control gets spotty, and the amount of guidance you receive if you're having trouble is a big fat zero.

Good use of motion controls made the game much more immersive--at first. But if you're trying to use a gesture that's pictured on the screen, and you've tried it twenty times and it's not working, the game needs to give you at least a supplemental explanation of what you should be doing. And in boss battles, all of which seem to require entering the Avatar state to win, we shouldn't be fighting for several minutes, then have the entire battle come down to five button presses within a few seconds. At least, not in a situation where if you miss, you have to start the battle all over again. If we've gotten that far, drop us back into the battle 10-15 seconds before we need to enter the Avatar state. This game is for kids--repeating a boss battle three or five or EIGHT times is just going to lose us entirely.

Great idea. Great story. Sloppy as hell. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go look for a bag of frozen peas.

Site Meter