Thursday, December 07, 2023

Early Game Review: 'Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora'

A dazzling visual achievement, "Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora" is a canonical entry into James Cameron's ever-expanding Panbdora-based universe. Ubisoft's Massive Entertainment crafted the game in close concert with Disney and Lightstorm Entertainment, and the game both lives and dies by that firm link.

Just like the films and surrounding fiction, the rich cultural and vibrant visuals carry the narrative past its heavy-handed tendencies. And just like the films, the game is somewhat hollow, unintentionally cynical and exhausting.

There are hints of "Far Cry" and Ubisoft's Tom Clancy games throughout. The Ubisoft connection gives the game a certain heft and grounding that it would have lacked had Disney gone it alone or shirked it off to a bargain-basement dev.

You play as a Na'vi who sets off on a voyage across a rpreviously unseen portion of Pandora, known as the Western Frontier. You meet new tribes and battle and hunt new creatures, pick up an array of weapons and upgrades and explore what amounts to be a story of little consequence on the "Avatar" realm as a whole.

At the very least, I can say "Frontiers of Pandora" is far and away better than most film-to-game adaptations. This is a gamer's game, and bursts with artistic revelations and a sense of discovery. 

On the downside, there is a sameness to quests and a general sense of mucky writing and cut scenes that slows down the sense of momentum. At least with the game, unlike the film in theaters, you can stop for bathroom breaks whenever you like and not miss anything.

Overall, "Frontiers of Pandora" will thrill and satisfy major "Avatar" fans and even those who are dabblers. Obviously, anyone turned off by the entire scene should avoid this one. But I'm grateful for the opportunity to take another dip into Cameron's wild vision.

Publisher provided review code.

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