Avatar is the upcoming action adventure tie in for James Cameron's epic sci-fi adventure movie of the same name. Although the game has only been in development one fifteenth as long as the film, one year is plenty of time to produce a fantastic looking iPhone game.
The game is set 20 years before the events that unfold in the movie, at a time when humans have discovered the alien moon Pandora and seek to harvest its vast mineral resources. The explorers soon discover the moon is protected by strange inhabitants - aliens called the Na'vi. You play as the first soldier to be part of the Avatar project. Humans can't breathe the atmosphere on the moon so they are put in control of a human/Na'vi hybrid called an Avatar. The game is set across various landscapes encountered in the movie and some new ones too. Working with the film's development studio, Lightstorm entertainment, Gameloft has had access to the original models, artwork and voice talent from the movie.
The game spans 15 levels and takes your Avatar through jungles, military bases, vast planes and even a bizarre dreamscape environment. Like many action adventure games, Avatar adopts multiple gaming styles to keep the gameplay interesting and fresh. One level set in the jungle appeared to be a hybrid between Sonic-style platforming and rail grinding, Tomb Raider-esque ledge shimmying and God of War-like combo driven fighting. Although the majority of the levels take on the form of a platformer, I saw one level in which you fly a large creature called a banshee whilst shooting down enemies - very reminiscent of SEGA's Panzer Dragoon. Later on between missions you are free to explore a Na'vi village and accept new missions from the local inhabitants or explore on alien horseback, defeating enemies to enhance your abilities.
By exploring the environment and beating enemies you can find small bioluminescent creatures that you can collect. Once enough creatures have been gathered you unlock abilities on a linear skill tree, there are 21 abilities that vary from weapon and health upgrades, shields and new combos. Your avatar can wield three different weapons, a fighting staff, bow and two large machine guns that are unlocked later on in the game. You can cycle through these weapons by sliding the attack button in the bottom right from side to side. You will need to use all three weapons to take on all kinds of enemies, including shielded guards that just won't go down without a good heavy dose of melee attacks. Grenadiers will throw frags that you'll need to jump in order to avoid. My favourite enemy type seen so far is the large mech with chainsaws for hands. These are used to cut down trees in the jungle, but that's not all.
Avatar looks to have plenty to offer including three difficulty modes to appeal to all types of gamers. The game is set for release on December 15, just before the film, so whether you just can't wait for the movie or you're looking for a decent action title Avatar looks like a solid action game.
Avatar is due to hit the App Store on December 15.