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Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Cannot be as Bad as James Cameron's Avatar: The Game

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Cannot be as Bad as James Cameron's Avatar: The Game

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about the then-upcoming Marvel’s Avengers, and how it couldn’t be as bad as Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth. Sure, there are two trains of thought on how well that aged.

Well, I’m back to talk about how I hope that the upcoming Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora isn’t as bad as James Cameron's Avatar: The Game from 2009. Though it turned out to be quite a journey that I went on since I’ve never seen Avatar. It also came out on more platforms than I initially thought.

In case you missed the announcement during E3 2021, Ubisoft released a teaser trailer for Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. Presumably it’s going to be released to tie into Avatar 2 when it comes out in 2022, but details have been light so far.

If you just read the Wikipedia entry about James Cameron's Avatar: The Game, then you’re very much missing out. Avatar: The Game came out on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PlayStation Portable, DS, iOS and Android. But there were four different versions produced. Mobile had one, DS had a second, PSP and Wii had the third, and everything else had the fourth.

In the iOS/Android game you control Captain Ryan Lorenz - the very first Avatar soldier - and wind up aiding the Na’vi against the RDA. The game had 15 levels of third-person platforming and shooting/hitting things, with the familiar, simple, control scheme that touchscreen games used to be known for.

In the DS version, you play as Nok, a child Na’vi who wants to find out more about the sky people. It’s played from a top-down viewpoint, and you have to use the stylus to move Nok around, while the top screen shows you the map. Chronologically, it takes place before the other games, since humans have only recently arrived on Pandora.

The Wii & PSP versions are the same, but of course have their differences. For instance, you have limited camera control on the PSP, and the Wii version is compatible with the Balance Board and MotionPlus. You play as Rai'uk, a Na’vi who is after revenge on the humans who murdered his clan. It’s a third-person game which sees you trying to avoid being spotted while taking out soldiers, and is filled to bursting with quick time events.

The PC & console version was where Ubisoft put its big bucks. You play as Ryder, newly arrived on Pandora in a third-person shooter prequel to the movie. It was 3D compatible, starred reprises from Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, and Giovanni Ribisi, allowed you to choose how you looked out of 20 options, and it had two different campaigns. There was also a turn-based strategy mini-game in there! It was certainly ambitious, and it definitely looked gorgeous by 2009 standards. The PC version still looks pretty good, to be fair.

As I mentioned, the campaign splits at a certain point early on, and you have to choose to side with the Na’vi or the RDA. The two play similarly, with their own weapons and vehicles, but of course heavy firepower makes the RDA the easier option.

Unfortunately, each version of Avatar: The Game is repetitive as hell. Even with the two different stories in the “big” version, you’re still going somewhere, fighting off enemies, activating something, then returning to where you came from. The PSP/Wii version is sneaking around with minor changes in the environment. The later levels of the Android/iOS game only differ from the early ones in length. The DS one might have gotten by despite being repetitive, if it wasn’t also so long.

Combat is annoying in each version, too. There’s no way to avoid enemy attacks, because the dodge that’s in most versions is rubbish. It’s not like you’re going to die easily, because health is plentiful, but it’s a chore that I really didn’t enjoy. Viperwolves attacking from all sides while I can only shoot them one at a time isn’t my idea of fun. The Wii/PSP game being so heavily reliant on quick time events is even worse!

I will admit, however, that while I’ve been playing these Avatar: The Games, I did at least get the urge to watch Avatar. I have questions about sky people and Viperwolves, and where do Avatars come from?

However, if you’re not like me and really enjoyed the movie, then each game has its own merits. They’re not strongly present, but at least you can enjoy the stories that they present. By the time Avatar 5 comes out they might be contradicting things, but from what I can tell it’s all separated out well enough. But there’s certainly room to do better when Ubisoft releases Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora.

Andrew Duncan

Andrew Duncan


Guaranteed to know more about Transformers and Deadpool than any other staff member.

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