Game Reviews

James Cameron’s Avatar

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James Cameron’s Avatar

The Avatar movie was a strange beast. Visually, it was astounding, and the 3D effects embraced by cinema-goers worldwide were at times amazing to look at.

But the story was just FernGully meets Afghanistan. Of all the ways to re-hash the Pocahontas tale, doing so with an element called ‘Unobtainium’ on a planet called ‘Pandora’ was probably not the most subtle.

Of course, Avatar was never supposed to be a film about subtlety. It was a film about looking really, really pretty, and even after a year and a half it shows no signs of ageing.

It’s a pity the same can't be said for its smartphone counterpart.

I’m blue...

The plot of the game centres around a purpose-made character called Corporal Ryan Lorenz. Although the game is set before the events of the film, it’s actually a carbon copy of what happens to Jake Sully when he inhabits his Na’vi avatar, gets lost in the jungle, and goes native.

To its credit, the game doesn’t waste much time getting you into the jaws of Pandora’s wildlife, much of which is nicely recreated.

That said, the graphics are beginning to look a little coarse, with missing textures and patchy tilework being very noticeable at times.

Although it can be quite satisfying to swing through the more lush levels, thanks to pre-set routes that encourage a brisk pace, Avatar is a very linear experience. This wouldn’t be such a problem if there weren’t so many things that bring you to a halt whenever you pick up speed.

...da ba de da ba die

Particularly galling are the platforming sections. When the original iPhone version came out, difficult platforming could be forgiven due to the necessity of the always sub-optimal virtual joystick.

This excuse isn't available to the game on Xperia Play, which has both physical and touch controls. Unfortunately, playing this version of Avatar is like walking a tightrope: you can only ever go in a straight line, and if you haven’t had a fair bit of practice you’re going to fall to your death frequently.

Also, despite the reassurances of the controls menu, the camera is not adjustable. This results in some galling death-drops that you feel could have been avoided if you had been able to see what was going on.


It’s not all bad, though. Combat is much improved by virtue of a physical button or two to mash, and mapping a weapon-change function to the R trigger makes switching up mid-fight a lot easier.

Your special area attack – a blast of mystic Na’vi energy – is a little sluggish to activate at times, but apart from this the combat feels a lot more solid than the run ‘n’ jump sections.

Avatar isn’t a terrible game, and when you build up a bit of momentum and Prince-of-Persia-like athleticism it can be a decent hike. What’s more, it’s admirable for trying to blend combat and platforming together.

It's dated very quickly, though, and you'll probably find something much better for your £3.

James Cameron’s Avatar

A half-decent fusion of running and gunning, Avatar still has control and camera issues meaning it falls short of being an indispensible addition to the Xperia Play’s library
Brendan Caldwell
Brendan Caldwell
Brendan is a boy. Specifically, a boy who plays games. More specifically, a nice boy who plays many games. He often feels he should be doing something else. That's when the siren call of an indie gem haunts him. Who shall win this battle of wills? Answer: not Brendan.