by Derk Bil
previewed on PC
Play your role with effort
You may think that it sounds a bit like Halo but that's not really a fair comparison. There is more to playing Avatar than just shooting anything that moves. As you wander over Pandora's surface, you will be able to pick up genetic samples of the Pandorian wildlife which will unlock, among other things, power-ups.
You start the game as a humble but deadly RDA soldier that simply follows orders and are slowly introduced to the harsh world of Pandora with its toxic atmosphere. Later in the game, you have more freedom to decide how you will achieve your objectives. The game monitors your actions and awards ‘effort points’ with which you can develop your character and unlock new and better pieces of armor, weapons and even special skills. Skills are more fluid than in other games. There are about twenty special skills that you can ‘assign’ to your character between each mission. They can greatly influence the outcome of battles but also have an impact on less destructive mechanics. You could, for example, secure a perimeter with an absolute minimum of damage to yourself by using the stealth skill to sneak up on enemies.
The zones you need to secure can be quite large. One of the levels we cleared offered a square kilometer of gnarly, guerrilla-style battlefield. It took a fair amount of time and fighting to secure. Zones often come with mini-objectives. Culling at least 50% of the Vyper-wolf population is one example of such a mini-objective, a challenge that the completists amongst us simply can’t pass up on.
There will be a fantastic plot twist. After this you are allowed to switch sides to Na'vi and make use of what the planet has to offer to aid you in battle. As a Na’vi, you can mount the magnificent beasts that are more than willing to give their lives to preserve their homes and plow through hordes of human intruders and, in some cases, even through their vehicles.
Na’vi are naturally stealthy. Playing as one, you can use the environment to stay hidden from your enemy and sneak up on them from behind. Climbing trees and using your massive bow and arrow to run your enemies through with 6-foot arrows is also an option. If you are more of a “hands-on” kind of gamer, you should opt to raze through packs of soldiers, clubbing them down one after the other as a wrecking ball gone mad.
Avatar’s graphics are vibrant by day but a new graphical flavor is added once the day turns into night and the world just lights up with a ghostly blue glow. If not for the fact that everything you bump into wants to take a bite out of you, you would be considering yourself in some amazing dreamworld. The odd mixture of dread and awe that the night cycles instill are hard to describe, but fortunately you won’t have to wait too long before you can explore Pandora yourself. The game is scheduled to be released November 26th.