Avatar: The Last Airbender was shockingly good.
Avatar: The Last Airbender was actually a much better game than I expected. I knew it was a Dark Alliance-type game, but I didn't know it was soo similar. It's actually a deeper game in some regards. I love how open the maps are, I love finding the quests from the NPCs. The graphics, for a PS2 port, really hold up. The celshading looks really good, and the backgrounds and enemies are still nice to look at.
Avatar didn't utilize the Wii to the best of it's abilities, but they didn't abuse the Wii either. I liked the limited Wii stuff in the game. The button layouts were perfect. The only problem, which is completely minor, is using the Wiimote while micromanaging your pieces of armor and accessories.
I'm not an Avatar fan by any means. I never seen the show and I didn't know anything about the characters or background on anything. I did get an idea on it with the opening intro. Some things seemed off by me, but I didn't mind the story at all. It was funny at times.
Overall, the game was shockingly good. If you dig games like Baldur's Gate or Viking or X-Men Legends, then I wholly recommend this title. This game got extremely poor reviews. I'm not sure why, but coming from my perspective, and I've played a TON of these dungeon crawling hack n'slashers, I say it's pretty solid.
I'm actually excited to play the sequel.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is a straight up action RPG. The game seemed designed mostly after Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, or more specifically X-Men Legends.
Avatar doesn't include co-op in any way. However, it does offer a better single player experience than your average Dark Alliance clone. Like in X-Men Legends, you can fight along side with 3 AI controlled partners. You can switch between characters on the fly with the D-Pad. This allows you to solve puzzles requiring a different characters special abilities, or you can switch if you like another characters fighting style.
You gain experience for killing anything, or completing quests. If you gain enough experience you'll gain a level. The game level caps you at 20, which is disappointing, because I level capped long before the game ended. Anyways, once you gain a level, you are awarded with a skill point you can distribute among your skills. I just left it on auto-assign, as I didn't use my skills often enough to care.
Like any RPG worth its weight, you can equip armor and accessories, however, no weapons. You can equip 3 pieces of armor and 3 accessories. There really isn't anything that differentiate them though, as they all effect the same stats.
The combat does get repetitive, and there isn't much strategy involved to it. You can smash your way through the game just smashing the A button over and over again. Later in the game, when you fight stronger enemies, I started to use my skills, but it was a bit to late for that.
The most repetitive thing about this game was the boss fights. If you fought one boss, then you fought them all. The only strategy I could figure is to attack the boss. Then he will use a special attack. After that, it will tire for a minute, which is when you swoop in to attack it. You just repeat this over and over again until it's dead. The variety of bosses is also disappointing.
To use a skill, all you need to do is hold down the B button. This then shows a collection of 4 skills you have equipped. You then move your Wiimote the direct of the skill, and that's it. It's pretty simple to figure out and use. If you want to use the spinattack (which is the Up skill), you then hold down the B button and slice up with the Wiimote.
The other Wii-specific motion in the game are mini-games that are required to open hidden chests or to use your bending powers. These minigames remind me of Okami's paint brushing. They show you a symbol, then you have to re-draw it in the exact order. That's really it for the Wii-mote stuff.
There isn't a challenge at all in this game. Boss fights are simple, figuring out what to do next is simple. There is nothing you'll get stuck on or frustrated with. That could be a good thing or a bad thing. However, games like X-Men Legends and Badlur's Gate were pretty simple too.
----------Characters / Story----------
You play as Aang, the last Airbender. Aang, and his group of friends, Katara (Waterbender), Haru (Earthbender), or Sokka (Firebender) get mixed up in a war between the Fire Tribe and the rest of the world. A mysterious person is unleashing attacks on villages across the world with robots, and Aang is trying to put a stop to it.
As I said before, I'm not familiar with the show at all. They show a short animated clip before playing the game, which explains Aangs origins, but nothing else. I can see a fan of the show getting into the story, because it seemed completely directed towards fans only. For a non-fan, like myself, they didn't flesh out the characters enough.
I think the graphics hold up pretty well for a PS2 title. I would even go as far as say they're better than Marvel Ultimate Alliance. While the enemy design does get repetitive, I do like the animations of the enemies, characters and everything else on the field. I love the world map and how it was designed. It was very colorful and rememberable.
I enjoyed the cutscenes as well. I honestly expected a bunch of anime clips taken from the TV show and spliced into the game, but they actually rendered all the cutscenes with the game engine. The characters are celshaded, and look awesome. The faces, the hand movements, everything is perfectly animated.
I had the game crash on me a few times though. It would just freeze up, and I could power off or anything. I had to unplug my machine to reboot it. One thing it froze while I was saving! I'm glad it didn't erase my file.
The music was forgettable, for example, I can't remember a single tune from it. It probably wasn't anything offensively bad atleast. I dig the voice work though. I can't say if they're the same actors from the TV show, since I never seen it, but it's not bad really. Some dialog isn't fully voiced, while others are. If you talk to a NPC, you might just hear a first word or short phrase out of them, instead of their full dialog, like in a Zelda game. My favorite part about the NPC voices is when you walk by a group of NPCs, they might chat to each other. Kinda like in GTA or Simpsons Hit and Run, they might say stupid crap while you walk past them or hoover around them. I liked that bit.
There are 7 worlds in all. The world map reminds me of alot of Viking: Battle for Asgard for the 360. When you start a world, you are given almost complete freedom to run around the island and do whatever you want. It's non-linear in that sense. Within the island are usually a town or two, or scattered NPCs to talk to. You can find quests from random people and complete them, which leads to a final boss encounter on that island. Once you fight that boss, you are then taken away from that island, and shipped to a new one. Like Viking, you can't backtrack to previous islands.
I like the world map set up, but as I said, I was disappointed that you couldn't backtrack. I skipped a few sidequests earlier in the game, and I wished I had finished them.
The islands and quests get repetitive after a while though. You usually start off in a town, you then find a guy that plays minigames. You can then find the mayor or head person of the town, they give you a main quest. You can then find a merchant, and he wants you to find random items for his store. Each island has a Momo quest, which requires you to switch into the Momo character (the little Lemur that sits on your shoulder). You can travel through the map looking for secrets only he can find. Then there are secret chests you can find on the map, etc. If you played one map, then you played them all. It's still fun to explore them maps though.
----------Time to Complete Game---------
They don't record your time with the game. I'm sure it's possible to blow through this title in 6 or 7 hours, but I took my time to do most of the quests given.
The final boss was pretty simple. The game ends with a cliffhanger and credits. That's it. You can "continue" your last save, but that just leaves you before the final boss. There's not a whole lot to do otherwise.