Avatar: The Last Airbender -- The Burning Earth
Name: Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Burning Earth
Platform: Wii, Nintendo DS, Playstation 2, Xbox 360, Gameboy Advance (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
I don’t believe I need to explain myself when I say that I jumped at the chance to play Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth for the Xbox 360. Sure, the Wii version may have motion controls and the DS version could have nice, fun, touch screen features, but what would I really achieve? Watching videos online made me think that to truly achieve what I wanted to with this title I should pick up the Xbox 360 version. Call me crazy, but after playing it for just two minutes I felt like I had truly achieved something wonderful with the game.
Then I continued playing and realized that there actually isn’t anything terrible to say about the game. It is a functioning adventure game that, if you are a fan of Avatar, you will enjoy. It never hits the low points some licensed games do, but it never reaches above mediocrity.
Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth is the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender, which achieved (I need to stop doing that) nice enough sales to spur this title. Like its predecessor, it follows a season of the allegedly popular Nickelodeon show. Just like anyone picking up the game and never watching anything it was based on I was completely lost.
Early in the game while walking through some sewer (or cave, or space station, I don’t really care/remember) two guards stop you. This cues a cinematic using the in game graphics that has guards ask why player two, controlled locally or by AI, why he is covered in spots. I mention that the cinematic uses the games engine for two reasons:
1. This game is a high definition port of a Playstation 2 port in the purest sense. It is widescreen, there are no jaggies, and the character models don’t actually look in anyway improved over their last generation counterparts. Mouths don’t move when they speak and the animations are limited.
2. It will randomly swap to pre-rendered cinematic in which characters mouths move and they actually do the actions they are assumed to be doing in the other cinematic.
Now, back to the story at hand. The guard asks why he is covered in spots and if he is sick in some way. I paused the game, rubbed my eyes, and looked again. There were absolutely, positively no spots. Did he trick the guard into thinking he had them? Were they invisible spots? What the hell was going on? He explained he had some disease and was highly contagious. The two trained, intelligent guards quickly fell for the child’s lie and ran away in a panic. Half an hour later they explain the spots as being from a baby squid creature. I was still perplexed at what the hell had happened and was left wondering if I had missed a cinematic or something. I continued playing and prepared for whatever stupidity the game would send my way.
While watching the Season Two trailer included on the game disk, however, I saw that same character getting his face sucked by the suction cups on the squid creatures. He pulls them off to reveal weird looking spots – the ones in question. Avatar, like many other television show to game translations, assumes that the player has seen the episodes. This is more problematic in Avatar because it is a show so few people are likely to have seen.
Nitpicking aside, the game isn’t all that bad. It plays like a last-generation beat ‘em up with easy puzzles, huge combos that really make you feel like you have achieved something, and a two-player co-op. Combat in the game isn’t very deep, but it isn’t as shallow as it looks, which I guess sums up the entire game. I found myself wanting to play the game for more then an hour – something I never expected to happen with it. That urge didn’t carry much longer, but the fact that I even had it is surprising.
For its target audience, children who watch Avatar: The Last Airbender, the game isn't bad. It doesn't have anything remarkably good going for it, but it is without any game breaking faults as long as you don't care about a swiss cheese story. Then again, if you are picking this game up, odds are you don't.