When I heard the news of The Legend of Korra game I was just as surprised as many were. I then became interested when I saw some gameplay/commentary, but then I heard it was being made by Platinum Games I was excited. Anyone familiar with the show would instantly realize that the combat and gameplay that Platinum Games has made a name for itself with would mesh very well within the Avatar universe. However, what I was met with was not all that great.
The Legend of Korra TV show has made a name for itself with incredible visuals, an engaging story and one of the better original soundtracks out there. Two of those three categories were sort of met in The Legend of Korra video game, but only because assets were taken directly from the show.
First, as you can see in some screenshots strewn about this review, some of the visuals do a great job of capturing the look of the show. The game makes good use of static backdrops, some of which seem lifted directly from the show. Actually, I’d wager they were assets taken directly from the show.
But many of the places you visit as Korra are barren. There is just absolutely no sign of human life at all, which is especially jarring when good chunks of the game take place within Republic City, a place that is supposed to be full of people.
The most unfortunate part though comes in the cut scenes. They sort of look like the quality of the show, but certain things are just off. Characters faces seem just a bit different as do their expressions. The animations are not all that fluid, which is especially noticeable whenever a character speaks. Their mouth does not match the timing of their speech at all.
Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but the music included in the game seems to be exactly the same as that of the show. That is fine, as the show has some wonderful music, but it just shows a lack of effort. It shows an area where cutting corners was acceptable. Cut corners seem to be the norm with the lack of atmosphere, the reused art of the show, and the cutscenes that seem almost finished but still incomplete.
Though all of that is nothing compared to the story. I’m sure what is going to draw many fans to this game, much like myself, is the promise for a new original story. Well, this story takes place between Season 2 and Season 3 of the show, which is a roughly three week window. It introduces a new villain, Hundun, who is as bland as they come.
Apparently, Hundun references a being of primordial chaos in Chinese Mythology. Sounds interesting right? Well, the inspiration is much more interesting the character himself. Hundun is a spirit that was released into the world, and appears to be the embodiment of chaos, who wants to seek his vengeance on the Avatar, Korra.
That sounds a lot better than how the game actually portrays and builds him up. The explanation above is through my own summation. Still, that is a reasonably interesting set up that fits perfectly into the Avatar universe. However, the story just gets exceedingly boring as the game progresses. By far the most disappointing thing about the story is how halfheartedly put together it seems. Hundun is the only new thing added at all. Fans of the show will recognize the reused enemies from the first two Seasons. Again, cutting corners.
The whole idea is that Hundun blocked Korra’s powers so you spend almost the whole game progressing to unlock her powers again. The combat for the first hour or two of the game (a game that is only 5-6 hours at most long), is exceedingly boring. For much of it you are without any of Korra’s abilities and are left to only her feet and her fists.
The enemies in the game are nothing unique. Some of them have bending abilities (abilities to use the elements like Korra), but they never use them in interesting ways. Everything is pretty cookie cutter for the most part, with average ranged enemies, charging enemies, etc. The game derives hardly anything from the source material to utilize in interesting ways for the game.
The most interesting thing about the combat in the game is the counter system which comes in the form of frantic QTEs. Those are fun for awhile, but they soon become recognizable and repetitive. Still, each time they are landed correctly, Korra gives them a satisfying thrashing.
Overall, the combat is halting. I was consistently starting and stopping in a fight, and maybe that was to my ineptitude, but I would wager that it had more to do with how the combat worked. There were few combos to land or strive for throughout the game and no real way to chain your attacks to continue the fight. The short combos led to that start and stop effect that was consistent throughout the game, no matter what I unlocked.
There are a few minigames in the game, most of which are just awful. However, the one that is really cool is the pro-bending. It’s hard to explain to the unfamiliar, but basically the idea is that there are areas on a platform that you want to control and you have to keep pushing the other team back to get more ground to the point that you eventually want to knock them off. Now add the ability to bend water in their face while dodging fire and rocks thrown at your head and you get the idea. It is actually fun and I would love to see it developed more as it is still barebones at the moment. A game based on that would be pretty cool judging on what little is here already.
The Legend of Korra cuts corners in pretty much every way possible. The basics for interesting combat are there, they just need to be polished and have more variety. The visuals are neat in some areas, but again, need the final touches (as well as more original content unique to the game). The music is great, but taken from preexisting assets. And the story, the story just rehashes much of what we have all seen in many different forms in the past, including The Legend of Korra television show.
The Legend of Korra is the perfect example of how a development team cuts corners at a great cost.