|System: Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: THQ St. Australia||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 13, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
August 20, 2008 - Avatar - The Last Airbender was the most successful animated show to ever run on Nickelodeon. It ran for three seasonsand told the story of a boy named Aang who possessed an immortal soul which was capable of giving him special elemental powers and gave him the title of Avatar. He was charged with bringing peace to the world. But, since Aang is only about twelve years old, this seemed to be a rather impossible task. Of course, there's a whole lot more to the story than that, but it's hard to explain 61 episodes briefly. If you haven't checked the series out yet, it is quite enjoyable, especially if you are a fan of anime. It is definitely one of my all-time favorite animated television shows, and also one of the few programs that can appeal to both children and adults.
But like any TV show primarily aimed at a kids' audience, Avatar has been getting the video game treatment ever since the beginning. The first Avatar game was based on season one of the show and was actually quite enjoyable, especially on the Wii. The second title, however, The Burning Earth, was somewhat of a letdown because it over-simplified the gameplay for the younger sect. The Burning Earth really seemed like a step backwards for the video game series, but it looks like the newest iteration, Avatar - The Last Airbender: Into the Inferno is taking two steps forward.
But if you're worried that the standard Avatar formula is going out with the old, you can cast your fears aside. Into the Inferno will still have the same puzzle-platforming gameplay that the series has relied upon for so long. All the characters will be able to access their unique bending abilities, and it will be up to you to decide which characters you can best use for each stage. The structure of the game this time around will more closely resemble the structure of the first, with a slightly less linear formation. There will also be more free-roaming capabilities that will allow you to explore more of Aang's world via his glider, which can be used to traverse the overworld.
The combo system has also been upgraded since the last iteration to become a little bit more challenging. Those who played The Burning Earth know that 150X combos were far too easy, and the monotony of the attack scheme just seemed boring. The combos were essentially just an add-on to the standard attack, and there was nothing challenging or rewarding about it. Luckily, this time the combo system will chain together specific attacks for unique combos that will utilize each character's specific powers and abilities.
One facet that I am really hoping this title brings back from the first is the RPG elements such as the equipment and weapon upgrade system. Another thing that would be nice to see in this third iteration is the return of the character battle mode from The Burning Earth. However, there is no official word yet as to whether or not these elements will make an appearance.
Since the game is coming out for several systems, the experience will be a little bit different depending on where you play it. The Nintendo Wii version looks to have been the most upgraded since last year, and it has completely re-tooled the Wii motion controls from previous games. Instead of awkward waggles or erratic swings, the Wii controls will better mimic the actual element bending motions featured in the show. The controls will also be a bit more natural and have a point-and-click interface that will allow you to choose what elements you want to interact with onscreen. The motion controls also promise to be more precise this time around; you won't have to worry as much about missing attacks if you don't get your swings exactly right.
When the Avatar series ended earlier this summer, I have to say I was quite sad that one of my favorite series of the past four years was ending. It seems like Avatar - The Last Airbender: Into the Inferno will be the series' last hurrah, so I sincerely hope they make it good. If not for the sake of making a good game, just do it for the fans!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor