Cheap Game Tuesday: ‘The Legend of Korra’
I wish I had more good things to say about this game. I really do. An interactive version of this world is long over due and to see it short changed like this…it’s disappointing. It’s not all bad, and if you’re a fan of the franchise you might be willing to overlook some of the flaws, but we need a real, Triple-A take on this concept.
A brief explanation for those who don’t watch Avatar. In this world there are four nations…actually, don’t bother. If you’re not invested in this franchise you’re not going to follow the story, and the game itself isn’t enough to sell it to non-fans. Go and play something else. Or go watch the series. It’s one of the greatest things ever shown on television. No joke, it’s amazing. Especially The Last Airbender seasons.
For those who do know the series, this game takes place between the second and third seasons. Korra has reopened the gates between the physical and spirit worlds and an entity of chaos has returned to get revenge on the Avatar from centuries prior. By utilising spirits, Chi-Blockers and the triad to defeat Korra. With her bending powers blocked Korra has to relearn her techniques and journey to the spirit world for a confrontation.
The game begins with Korra at full power, allowing you to unleash the powers of water, fire, Earth and air for a few minutes. Then you lose all your powers and are left with awkward punching moves. As an intro to the game, this is not good. You spend the first level and most of the second without any bending powers, which is the selling point of the game. It takes a couple of hours of play to get all four classes of bending back, and then you have to level them up and buy items to unlock moves. By the time you unlock fire and air bending they’re such a low level you wind up sticking to water.
Combat is, at least, done well. Being able to switch between the elements on the fly and mid-combo gives you the feeling of being the Avatar and each has enough uniqueness that you can use them all in one encounter. The animation is effectively replicates the show and each new move will be a visual thrill. It’s just a shame that you’ll spend the bulk of the game fighting the same couple of enemies. The same boss monsters get trotted out again and again, sometimes two at a time and immediately after one another.The basic bad guys look the same with weapon variations and the mid-level opponents are the same three guys in different coloured outfits. It has more repetition in enemies than Dead Rising.
To unlock moves and gain power ups you can visit Iroh’s spirit shop between levels and continues. This includes health restoring items that you WILL need simply because the non-stop Mechatank boss encounters come with so much health they become an endurance match more than anything else. So everytime you die you go through the routine of selecting the shop and buying the items one at a time with a prompt to confirm the purchase. Then when you return to the level you have to visit a different menu in Korra’s home (which you can return to at any time, even mid-combo) to equip the items to the D-Pad. It’s downright tedious and reduces the flow of the game to a slog.
Challenging games are all well and good but Korra falls on the side of frustrating. As mentioned the bosses have silly amounts of health, requiring long stretches of time to defeat them, which gets tiresome when you encounter them many times in the course of one level. In the spirit world levels the Mecharobots are replaced by giant spirits who attack in pairs, sometimes filling the screen and obscuring the action, leading to early death. Due to the difficulty curve previous levels need to be revisited to improve bending levels and gain more currency to keep you in items, leading to more repetition.
Then there’s the forced mini-games. The addition of Pro-Bending tournaments is essential to the full Korra experience, and as a side option it’s welcome. Forcing players to successfully complete a match with little instruction to begin the first level is mean. Forcing players to do it again as part of the final boss battle is just irritating. Many of the levels end with Korra riding Naga through the city in a Subway Surfer reskin, requiring precognitive level reflexes to continue with the story.
With the attention to detail in graphics and style it’s clear that the team behind this effort have enough effort in the show to make sure it looked and sounded right. Time has clearly been taken to ensure that bending elements looks the business. Along with the experienced company backing the project it must be the budget and time constraints often put on licensed games that have held this one back. Best skip this one unless you’re can’t keep away from all things Korra related.