Unlike the 360 and PS3 versions, on the Wii you play a powerful Na'vi warrior who fights to reclaim valuable artefacts.
To 3D, or not to 3D? That was James Cameron's question. Ubisoft Montreal's answer, with James Cameron's Avatar: The Game on Wii (try saying that three times while swinging your hips on the Balance Board) was, predictably, "not to 3D". Instead, we've got the video game disease that is waggling.
As long-suffering Wii-owners know, waggling is, most of the time, awful. And so it is here. Why do developers insist on forcing horrible waggling on us? In this pretty but basic third-person action game, in which you play a blue-skinned Na'vi hell bent on ridding the planet of Pandora of unwelcome Newcomers, waggling is both woeful and frustrating.
To attack with your big stick – your only melee weapon – you need to swing the Wii Remote; horizontally for a horizontal attack, or vertically for a vertical attack. There is a rudimentary combo system hidden underneath these two basic moves, but it's impossible to master, so unresponsive and inaccurate is the combat. You spend more time wafting the stick at thin air, like a deranged pensioner waving away spitting youths with a cane, than you do feeling like the double-hard alien warrior you should. This, combined with a maddening camera and a quick roll that insults the word "quick", makes for battles of the pull-your-hair-out kind.
You also have a bow, drawn by holding B. This zooms the camera in to a closer, over the shoulder perspective, and brings up a targeting reticule. It works okay. You need to move the reticule onto the target with the Wii Remote and keep it there, waiting for it to turn red so you can guarantee a one-hit kill with a press of the A button. But, like the melee combat, using the bow and arrow is monstrously frustrating. For some reason you can't move the camera when you have an enemy targeted (by holding down the Z button on the Nunchuck), and bow drawn. This means when you're trying to hit enemies on raised platforms, or even those positioned slightly above you, they're stuck right up at the top of the screen and are virtually impossible to hit. Gah.
Thankfully, the game is designed so that you don't have to get into combat if you don't want to. As a Na'vi, you're taller and stronger than your human enemies, but because you're massively outnumbered, you need to tread carefully. Pandora is your planet, and so the environment seems to be going out of its way to conceal you. This means stealth. Now, the stealth gameplay is occasionally - and I mean occasionally in its most occasional sense - quite good. When you detect machine gun-toting goons from the Resource Development Administration (RDA), you automatically crouch and slowly creep around. Tall grass, high-up areas and water keep you concealed; the idea is to stay hidden until you're behind your target, and to then press B for a stealth attack, when the game prompts you. If you do, you need to nail a quick time event, usually a downward swing of the Wii Remote, and Bob's your alien uncle.
It all works well enough when there aren't that many enemies about. Skulking about in the bushes, or in water, or on raised platforms, then swooping down for devastating one hit kills... you feel like the Predator in these situations, picking off dopey humans like Batman gone blue. But when you go up against more than a handful of goons, with snipers and turrets and laser tripwires that set off alarms and call in reinforcements, the stealth gameplay falls down like badly-animated house of cards. The problem is the crouch walk; you have no control over it, and it turns on and off like a possessed tap. You can tell the game's trying to make stealth easy for you, forcing you to crouch and hide when it thinks you need to, but you just end up feeling constrained.
And the jarheads of the RDA are dumb - mega dumb. If they spot you, they will pelt you with machine gun, RPG or sniper fire. But if you dive back into cover - say, long grass - they will quickly lose interest and go back to their dumb ways. Metal Gear Solid this is not.