James Cameron's Avatar is the embodiment of a quality iPhone app based on a hit film.
Set two decades before the film, the game puts you in the role of the very first avatar, a military captain named Ryan Lorenz who volunteers for an experimental program on a distant moon called Pandora. The experiment gives him super-human powers. While I won’t give away too many plot points, needless to say there is a lot of fighting in foreign worlds.
This is yet another impressive release from Gameloft, as the company has once again proven that there are few better at making iPhone games look great. Having said that, there are still times when the game world looks a little funky, but more often than not you will find yourself blown away.
Avatar’s gameplay is also smooth. Although it can be a very fast-paced game, it is rarely chaotic. The controls are simple – a virtual d-pad and two or three action buttons that vary based on the situation. While they are easy enough to learn, unlike other parts of the game they are merely average.
Different from many popular iPhone games, Avatar for better and worse is very reminiscent of a console effort. The storyline and narration are major pluses, and both are good enough that you will quickly forget you’re playing a game on your phone.
At the same time, the game basically comes off as an app version of the Xbox or PS3 game. That combined with a mundane control set-up leave it lacking in charm.
A more common complaint will be with the game’s camera angles, which can be annoying. The angles are changed automatically, but they become problematic when you try to retrace your steps. They also essentially tell you where to go, so it takes some of the challenge away.
Still, that doesn’t change what the app is – a deep, story-driven game that is somewhat uncommon for the iPhone. It’s both fun and challenging, and navigating your way through its 15 levels will occupy plenty of your time.
Avatar’s $9.99 price tag shouldn’t scare away fans of the film. This is becoming the standard price for games with high production values, and Avatar good enough to justify the cost. It has less to offer those who are unfamiliar with the film, but anyone looking for an action game that tells a story should look no further.