Movie tie-in games have had an ongoing track record of not being good. There have been a few exceptions in the long history of video games, but more often than not, movie tie-in games will be bad.
Avatar was released almost three weeks week ago and it’s already made it to ‘Best Films of the Year’ list, and even some ‘Best Flims of the Decade’ lists. With that much love for the film, could the Avatar iPhone game earn similar acclaim?
Avatar for the iPhone is an action / adventure game with a heavy emphasis on platforming and some combat mixed in for good measure. You play as Ryan Lorenz two decades before the events of the film. Ryan is the first person to take part of the Avatar program which allows humans to take control of Na’vi bodies to hopefully be better received by the Na’vi. The game has multiple chapters, which the majority are platform levels, but some of them will allow you to ride a Na’vi Dire or a Mountain Banshee to progress through the level.
The platforming at first could be a little tricky, but once you get the hang of the controls, moving around Pandora isn’t that much of a challenge. There will be times where a jump or two will be missed resulting in your untimely demise, but thankfully, the game is very lenient with deaths as numerous checkpoints litter any single level. Since this is a game that’s running off a mobile device, the checkpoints can be a life saver if you suddenly need to stop playing.
During your adventure, you’ll need to collect wisps. Some wisps will show up as you progress through a level, which can also help in directing you towards the appropriate direction. Wisps can also be obtained by defeating enemies, or completing missions. The purpose of these wisps is to give Ryan a number of upgrades, which can be tracked via the ‘Spirit of Eywa’ menu. This gives an RPG element to the game as you are continually upgrading Ryan’s abilities, but the upgrades follow only one track, so you can’t pick and choose your upgrades.
The combat system at first can seem bland, but as you unlock alternate weapons, players can pick and choose which weapon would be appropriate for any kind of situation. Ryan can equip a dual-bladed staff, a bow & arrow, and a machine gun. Even though there are multiple weapons, the combos leave much to be desired. Players can either continually tap the attack button to perform combo #1, or hold down the attack button for combo #2. The combos look very good, but I really didn’t feel like I was in control of the amazing combos.
One of Avatar’s strong points is its length. For it running on an iPhone, I was really impressed that it lasted at least several hours to complete if from start to finish. This is unheard of in the iPhone market as the gaming scene is flooded with casual games or games that can be completed in around an hour or so. Another strong point is its graphics. Pandora is beautifully recreated on the iPhone and Avatar really pushes the limits of the iPhone platform.
FINAL THOUGHT: Avatar for the iPhone is a great example of what is possible on the iPhone platform. Not only can iPhone games look good, but they can be long enough to tell an actual story. Even though the combat can be a bit repetitive and uninspired, there’s enough going on in the rest of the game to keep players interested, especially if you’re a fan of the Avatar movie.