30th November 2009 - It would have to be Ubisoft, the only other company possible to give Bungie a run for their money, adapting James Cameron’s Avatar movie for all platforms, just in time for Christmas. The question will be if this can exceed its movie tie-in trapping and become a true rival to the planet hopping alien grubbing Spartans we all know and love. Let’s take a look:
- Banshees- Check
- Lush exotic planets- Check
- Lots of alien critters- Check
- A 'deep' Alien subculture and hierarchy- Check
- Grunts and mechs and guns-check
- 3D stereoscopic output- Double Check
Avatar has already caused quite a stir, not just because of the seamless integration of CG3D and Real Life in the film, but because it has also become the 'flagship' for 3D Screen Technology as demoed at the recent XBOX Insider tour. And it also works. Some of the alien fauna are screens high while grunts mill around and mechs and warthogs do their best to bring them down. Even halo didn't have mech-warriors. The premise on the human side is pretty simple, but Cameron’s has actually been able to create and detail a wholly unique and different race of 'alien' unseen in movies before. Landing somewhere between a cat and a giant dark-elf the tribal warriors are the perfect contrast to the imposing marine army. The twist of course is that at least one of the marines is not planet-side instead his mind; inside the body of a cloned alien or 'avatar'.
Now if the planet of Pandora sounds familiar it’s because Borderlands no less used exactly the same name recently in their own Alien outing. Co-incidence; well to be fair, James Cameron has been dreaming of this thing for the better part of 15 years apparently. The population of Pandora is called the Na'vi and there just something about the deep blue aliens and their cat-like movements that instantly reminds me of the lush World of Warcraft. Hunting the other local life forms is similar to Turok while the marines or simply RDA 'corporation' are closer to that of Quake 4 than any super Spartan.
Here though is where I think Avatar may just trump Halo. Ubisoft in all their wisdom, apart from creating one good looking game have added the following that Halo fanboys only wish they had:
-A choice to side with the humans or the aliens.
-A chance to play as either a human or an alien across different paths
-Skill tress for each faction to level up your character
-The ability to ride animals
-A large amount of aerial combat separate to any ground based tactics.
Now to be fair Ubisoft, you did promise similar 'role-play' in other recent games of assassination, to mixed results so for a rushed movie-tie in I don't expect much depth. Ubisoft is integrating Avatar heavily into their new Uplay service of social networking so you can expect double the achievements. In theory anyone with 120Htz and HDMI output could play Avatar in stereoscopic, and thus 3D (while wearing the glasses) but weather this is the tipping point or even makes for a good game, is yet to be seen but James Cameron did have this to say:
"For the movie 'Avatar' we are creating a world rich in character, detail, conflict and cultural depth. It has the raw material for a game that the more demanding gamers of today will want to get their hands on - one that is rich in visuals and ideas, and challenging in play."
There is no doubt that Halo will not be swept off its feet in the coming month, but at least perhaps given the sub-par efforts of both ODST and Halo Wars, those licking their wounds can find comfort in another similar game. And for those still crying over the Halo movie or lack there-of Avatar is also showing in 3D at IMAX and selected cinemas and has to be seen to be believed.
Article Written By Ian Crane