If anyone on this follows my other posts on my university page, you will know by looking at this post that I absolutely love the Avatar series. No not the stupid blue people, the cartoon with the people who can bend elements and the one who can control all four elements. If you have never heard of the show then leave now and fix the situation cause you will not understand a lot of this and should watch the show anyway. For those who still follow the series, 2012 was a great year as we were given The Legend of Korra, the new iteration of Avatar set after the death of Aang following the path of the new Avatar named Korra. The show has had it’s ups and downs but is in it’s final ever season (*sobs*) and is better than ever, making me feel harder and harder each episode. However you will be shocked to find out that I was not keen for the release of The Legend of Korra game. Previous Avatar game titles had been incredibly disappointing for the audience so when hearing of the news, not many people cried out in joy. Through the development process however, it was told that the creators of the series were working with the team behind the game and people trying it out were saying great things. My hopes were rising and after a small wait I have finally had my chance to play the game, and it is good. I’m pretty sure I was looking a lot like this guy while playing the game. Also, some end of season 2 and first episode of season 3 spoilers ahead.
So now in to the actual review. The game, of course, centers around Korra, our young hero who has just saved Republic City from the evil forces of Unavaatu, the huge dark being created when Unalaq and Vaatu fused together to take down the world. The game takes place in the three weeks between the second and third series, after the huge spirit battle with the town under recovery from the battle as well as dealing with the huge vines that are starting to engulf the city. After a pro bending match, Korra spots some gangsters in an alley looking incredibly shifty seeming to hassle some old man. She runs in to save him only for him to vanish and her to be drugged by chi blockers. This sets up the story of the game, leaving the audience confused as to what is exactly happening. The style of combat is similar to Darksiders, where you have 2 buttons to attack, one light and one heavy, and must use certain button combinations to take down your enemies. Sure mashing your light attack will hurt them but adding in a heavy attack can throw them across the screen. At the start of the game you are left with no bending, the chi blockers having somehow taken it away from you. Luckily your fists are still able to pack a punch, and this is where I truly fell in love with the game.
While you have no bending you are still able to switch between the arts. This may seem like nothing but the developers have kept this all in mind and made it so without her bending she still fights in the style of that bending. When in earth bending mode your hits are heavy and take long, fire bending is quick and there is a flurry of blows water is fluid as you move with it, and air is wide to attack all sorts of enemies. Even without her bending, Korra is a force to be reckoned with, fighting her way through the many chi blockers. The game works on a combo system, meaning the higher the combo, the more Spiritual Energy (currency in the game) you will receive. Of course they do attack back, making the game an actual challenge. The counter system is quickly introduced and very very well done. To counter an enemy you must use the block button right before they attack when they are outlined red, which is a whole lot harder then it sounds. To get this down pat takes a lot of practice but is extremely useful within the game and can still be done by anyone who picks up the game. It does take a while to get used to but is something everyone should try to get comfortable with as it helps out immensely. After escaping the chi blockers, your trusty sidekick and best friend Naga arrives to save you and help you run through the streets to the docks to get back to Air Temple Island. This brings in a mini game in which you control Naga, running through the area trying to avoid cars and walls, much like Temple Run. You can collect Spirit Energy as you run along the streets but make sure not to run in to a wall or too many cars cause you will have to start from the checkpoint again. This is probably my least favourite feature of the game as I really really suck at it (as you may see in the future…) and it just feels unnecessary. Once that is all done the chapter is over and you haven’t even got bending yet. That’s right folks, a whole paragraph and haven’t even touched on the main feature of this universe.
Of course the game would be no different to others if it didn’t have bending involved, and being the Avatar means you are not limited to one style of bending as you can control them all. With your bending taken away from you, you have to work over mental blocks through certain actions to gain control of each element. You are given back water first which is a ranged form of bending. You can throw water to far away enemies as well as use certain ice moves. Next element to be given back is earth, a strong fighting style with very powerful but slow moves. Good if you land a hit but easy for your opponent to dodge. Third is fire, a fast element with a flurry of blows behind it. Fire is for up close fighting as each fir created is followed by a fist to accompany it. This style is not as powerful as earth but is much quicker and has longer combos. Air is last and is a control element, creating whirlwinds around you to hit all the targets near you. Each element has it’s positives and negatives and it’s up to the player to pick which one they want to fight with at what time. The elements are easy to switch between and can be switched to at any moment. as you defeat enemies with an element, you start to master the element, gaining a level in it at certain points up to level 10 which is max. Gaining a level in an element can give you different things. It will always give you Spirit Energy but you can also get a health increase, another attack to your combo, or a chi bar increase. Your chi bar is next to the element you are bending and is basically a charge bar. If you hold down an attack button you will do a stronger attack and fill up your chi bar. All attacks that follow are more powerful and do more things the more chi bars you have unlocked. This ranges from two strikes of water to throwing boulders around. Once you have the hang of your bending you can buy more combos in the shop, run by a great friend of the Avatar. In here you can buy scrolls or books to extend your bending or you can buy potions to help keep you alive as well as talismans that have certain effect when equipped. With the help of all this, the story moves along quite nicely and can be completed quite easily, I having finished it in under 6 hours. But that’s not where it ends. You then play the game to get better medals on each level and once you have finished the game you unlock Pro Bending mode. If you have watched the series, those words mean a hell of a lot to you.
Unfortunately in pro bending mode you can only play as Korra which means only one element but that definitely does not take away from the fun of the game type. You play a tiny amount of pro bending in the actual story, spurring you on to finish the game and get in to the pro bending leagues. When in this game type, the camera sits further back to let you analyse the entire ring. To win the game you must push the opposing team further back in to the ring each round and win 2 out of 3 rounds or obtain a knockout by knocking all three players out of the ring. To do this you use your light and heavy water attacks aimed at certain enemies within the arena. The rules are the same as in the show and the play style is set out perfectly to achieve this. Each person has a bar above their head. This bar represents how close they are to being knocked back a sector. Once it is depleted you are thrown back a sector and must fight from there. You are able to dodge and guard from attacks using the normal buttons but you are also able to counter. All bender can counter all shots thrown at them (?) so you have to watch out for your water shots being flung back at you. When you are pushed back a sector you are put in a hard position meaning your attacks have more power, allowing you to make a come back when needed. The way the pro bending mode is laid out is absolutely perfect and I could not imagine them doing it any better. I’m just keen to get to the harder levels so I have a real challenge, 5 knockouts in a row seems a bit much.
The story of the game fits well withing the Korra universe and doesn’t interfere with the story in the series which is fantastic for the fans. Too many times I have been annoyed by a new Kingdom Hearts game on a different system which added a whole lot of story. This game just steps aside from the main plot while still tying in some things from the story. Although it is a short story mode, there is a lot more to do once you are finished with the game, like finishing it on extreme difficulty, pro bending, or even trying to get all the collectibles or buy all the items. This game has plenty of value for the low price of $15 US (about $17 ish on Steam, $19.95 on Xbox, not sure about Playstation). As a fan of the series I absolutely loved it and as a gamer I really enjoyed it and definitely got my monies worth.