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Avatar the Game PC Demo Review
By Guest Writer Chibi Chaingun

Chibi: First off, the release of the demo caught me completely off guard and it was a pleasant surprise to see the demo up. After a few failed downloads and faulty installs, I finally got it to work.

Immediately upon starting up, the game impresses with crisp menus and backdrops. As any true 3D lover does, I first played in stereoscopic 3D.

The performance hit in 3D-mode is substantial, but manageable on my moderate PC: 2.51 ghz Intel Dual Core, 4 gb RAM, 8800 GTS 512 mb, and Vista 32. I was running at high to ultra high settings @1600x1200 resolution obtaining roughly 25-40 fps. Manageable.

Techy tid-bits aside, upon jacking into Pandora for the first time in 3D (well that's not true, I went to the 15 min of footage at IMAX - so second time) the first thing you notice is the sheer sense of scale.

HUGE floating landscapes (giant floating...islands) with beautifully flowing waterfalls filled the scenery as you take control of a Hornet aircraft. You delve deeper through this levitating corridor into the lush, dangerous forest of Pandora.

Upon landing, you can't help but stare in amazement like a little kid with an inquisitive lust to see more. Well luckily you're heading right in.

The forest is full of bioluminating creations from feathery plant particles to neon edging on massive prehistoric looking leaves. The atmosphere, in my experience, is quite possibly the best I've seen in a game yet.

Granted, this game was being viewed in full 3D, this game is arguably more impressive than the likes of Gears or Crysis, in its own stylized kind of way.

You will even get to witness the sun go down and see the bio luminescence plants and animals of the forest REALLY come to life. The details here are rich; Small glowy fish in a shallow pool of water to glowing flurries flying about.

Eventually you make your first combat encounter with some native species - a blue vicious wolf like creature.

Instinctively, you waste them as fast as possible to move on to the next area where you will have more unfriendly encounters with numerous native creatures from the giant hammerhead dinosaur like creature to the Navi themselves. The creatures all feel vicious and unrelenting, which seems to be the tone of the Pandora forest so far.

The combat in the game is fairly straight forward, but still fun. There is little new here, perhaps nothing new. However what is here is done well with nice polish. You can choose between pistols, machine gun, flamethrower, and a grenade launcher.

It's straight up gun-fun here. Not a bad thing. In addition, you also have some cool abilities like cloak, heal, a sonic burst that kills enemies, or call in an air strike.

Probably the coolest aspect of the gameplay comes with little to explore in the demo, but you gain XP (experience points) as you...ahem... destroy Pandora. Yes, you get rewarded to wreak havoc.

Another great feature is the ability to view all the creatures you scan in an encyclopedia for Pandora, however this feature is locked out in the demo but lets you scan creatures via your visor. There is also a mention of a risk-type strategy game that was not touched on in the demo (nor was the Navi campaign).

You also encounter numerous vehicles such as the AMP suit, a buggy, and a another buggy vehicle packed with serious fire power.

Near the end of the demo you will battle more Navi than you want to encounter, but the action is intense and the ending ends in a nice cliff hanger of a HUGE calvary of Navi riding in about to WHOOP YOUR .....

All in all, the demo was a huge surprise that impressed me as a gamer, an artist, and a game developer. I have never worked on a game near this complex, but I have an idea of the amount of work that would be involved to make something this outstanding.

I generally am one of those bad statistics of someone playing a demo and NOT buying the full game, but in this case... Instant buy just based on the RDA portion alone. If you like Lost Planet, think of this as a superb polished version, on Pandora, in 3D. I don't think AVATAR fans can go wrong here.

Avatar Game Review and Editorial

From conception to launch: History on the Avatar game and why it should deliver

From conception to launch:
History on the Avatar game and why it should deliver
By Guest Writer Chris Groves

July 2009 - When James Cameron's Avatar was announced as a forthcoming blockbuster, many in the gaming community could have seen a tie in video game from a mile away.

Hastily announced, cheaply produced and quickly released to coincide with a film's release, the vast majority of Movie-Based-Games (MBGs) are not up to scratch for most gamers. However, signs point to 'James Cameron's Avatar: The Game' delivering on as many levels as possible.

One of the plagues of poorly produced MBGs is the issue of time. The MBG is announced a year or so before the release of the film, and must make its date for maximum profitability.

This was not the case for the Avatar game, way back in late 2006, Cameron and co. began selecting a video game studio to partner with and create a game for the film. Those behind the film wanted a studio that would develop a game that has its own story to tell, without retelling the story of the film.

For a potentially grounbreaking film like Avatar, a developer was desired that would dedicate as much talent and effort to the Avatar game as they would for one of their original IPs (Intellectual Properties). French developer Ubisoft won the task of creating an Avatar game due to their enthusiasm and passion for the project. Ubisoft officially began working on the game in November 2006.

Shortly after, the development team for the game was treated to official concept art, designs and eventually even footage from the film, anything that would aid in the development of the game. The development team, who worked in complete secrecy in an area jokingly referred to as 'The Bunker', jumped on the opportunity before them.

They developed a story that took place two years before the events of the film, featuring none of the main characters, while taking full advantage of the various creatures, equipment, and vehicles from the film. But Ubisoft did not stop there, they had ideas of their own for creatures and vehicles for the story they were telling.

Cameron approved designs the Ubisoft team did, as well as having the design team of the film design material for Ubisoft, in order to make sure everything in the Avatar world had the same feel.

Some of the material developed for the game was liked so much that Cameron decided to incorporate it into the film. But James Cameron made sure not to overstep his boundaries and let the Ubisoft make the game while he stuck to making the film.

However, there was back and forth discussion and development for the game on a day to day basis.

Cameron, to an extent, oversaw and monitored what Ubisoft was doing, making sure to steer them in the right direction if things veered to far from his vision of the world being created in the film.

The Avatar game was first being developed as a first person shooter, when Cameron questioned that gamers may not feel like they are playing as an alien and feel part of this world if they couldn't see their own alien character.

At the next meeting Ubisoft brought in a build (in-progress version of the game) that was a 3rd person shooter, and everyone agreed the switch was for the better, showing how responsive Ubisoft was to Cameron's suggestions and advisement. Ubisoft even went as far as deciding to author the Avatar game in 3D by suggestion of Cameron.

Proving innovation is what Ubisoft is all about; Avatar will be the first major game release available in 3D. However, proper TV set ups will be required for 3D play, and in truth a rather select few will get the 3D experience, but those who do will appreciate it. Replay value and game-play was something that was clearly on Ubisoft’s mind while developing Avatar.

The player can choose to either play on the side of the Na'vi and Avatars, where essentially every creature on the planet will be an ally in fighting against the humans, or as an RDA soldier, armed to the teeth with advanced futuristic military weaponry.

At several points in the game, the player will be given the opportunity to switch to the other side if they feel as though they've made the wrong decision. Multiple ways to play the game will give players options to mix and match the way they experience the story every time they play the game.

Players will be able to customize a total of more than 60 total weapons in the game as well as choose from 20 skills to utilize for both the RDA and the Na'vi.

The game will also be available for online play, allowing audiences from all over to experience online multiplayer via Xbox Live. Ubisoft made sure that the Avatar game would be a successful multi-console experience as well.

The Avatar game will see a huge multi console launch. Releases on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, and PlayStation Portable are all confirmed, with a release on the PC rumored/expected. Separate teams made sure each version of the game incorporated all of the best aspects of its corresponding system into its game-play.

Exclusive downloadable content after the games release has been confirmed for the Xbox 360 version of the game, giving players additional excitement from the Avatar game to experience over time. The Wii version of the game has even been confirmed as utilizing the 'Wii board' at some times.

A multi platform launch such as this where effort has been made to make sure the Avatar game for each corresponding system delivers will allow Avatar to reach the widest gaming audience possible without any system owner feeling left out or disappointed in the gaming experience.

So, truly, Ubisoft is making sure that Avatar is the best product it can be on every level. Most low quality MBGs are released within a week of their respective film, in order to make quick cash due to the height in popularity of the film. Such circumstances are clearly not the case for the effectively and passionately developed ‘James Cameron's Avatar: The Game.’ The game is being released weeks before the film, seemingly to show not only can it stand on its own as a quality game.

This displays a lot of confidence on Cameron's part in the game, as it will be the first time many audiences experience anything from the world of Avatar, which he has developed and kept hidden from the world for years. It could greatly compromise the film if the first experience many had with Avatar was a bad one. But from the information I've gathered, Avatar is far from the usual MBG, the world of Avatar may prove to be blockbuster material for the gaming community as well as the film industry.

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