Feathery Footage: Avatar

The footage from the game of James Cameron’s Avatar shown at the Tokyo Game Show is shooty indeed. (And reminiscent of the early footage of Lost Planet 2.) I couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for all that blasted and mutilated alien wildlife – I’m assuming that’s going to be the point of the film, and therefore the game, since the plot centres around consumerist humans hoovering up resources from the lovely alien world of Pandora. I can already sense that it’s going to be considerably more satisfying to shoot up the humans and mechs than it will be to fire your guns at a trumpeting bird-o-saur, righteous or otherwise.


  1. surprise says:

    Maybe it reminds of Lost Planet, but Lost Planet actually looks nice graphics wise.

    This: Yawn.
    It looks boring as hell. The gameplay will probably play like this “hover mouse over enemy and keep mousebutton pressed. When enemy is dead hover mouse over new enemy. Rince and repeat” >_>

  2. Ash says:

    Boy that game looks dull. Linear corridors cunningly tarted up for a night on the town as a lush jungle. Objectives that look like they’ve been pulled straight from the big book of MMO grinding. And a big boss which, Wait for it….you have to side step and shoot in the back and if you get too close it stomps the ground.

    I know it would be foolish to expect anything ground breaking from a movie tie in game. But you’d hope that for a game which has established itself as well as this one they would at least try to avoid some of the more tired cliche’s.

  3. Dominic White says:

    It looks almost identical to Lost Planet now, but it just feels like a small step down in every direction, especially after playing the LP2 demo, which showed just how creative boss fights can be when they’re designed for four people working as a team.

  4. Snall says:

    Looks pretty meh as some stated above.

  5. Gap Gen says:

    Ah, the old whore of bossfights – the old charge ‘n’ shooty.

  6. KP says:

    Lovely environments. Meh game. Meh movie.

  7. Yargh says:

    Maybe, just maybe, playing as the good guys will be more interesting (and make up more of the game).

    One can always hope…

  8. Chaz says:

    The jungle looks nice, especially at night, but a shame it looks like its going to be a follow the linear path through the narrow canyon type affair. Also not too keen on the way he passes right through the leafy fronds of vegetation instead of brushing it aside, especially since Crysis and Far Cry 2 have already managed this trick, even on the consoles. The third person combat is not looking particularly exciting either. As has been pointed out already, Lost Planet 2 is looking far better.

    Kind of makes me wonder what the film is going to be like though. I mean so far, judging by the game, it looks like pretty generic sci-fi stuff. Kind of like he looked at a load of Jim Burns artwork and thought he’d turn it into a movie. Considering Cameron’s been working on this project for what seems like forever, and all the secrecy surrounding it, I’ve been expecting something utterly fantastic and ground breaking.

  9. Irish Al says:

    I think the film will be great in 3D in the cinema, and meh otherwise.

    • Vandelay says:

      If it is meh in 2D it will likely be meh in 3D. 3D is the completely pointless and usually makes the important parts of the film suffer (i.e. storyline, characters, etc.) If anyone can use the 3D well it is probably James Cameron, but so far I have seen no 3D film that has made me think it is the revolution that the industry keeps telling us it is. I defer to Mark Kermode on why 3D doesn’t work ( link to bbc.co.uk ) and why the film industry wants it to become popular ( link to bbc.co.uk ).

      As for the game, was never expecting that much really. It certainly looks quite pretty, but the gameplay seems to be like many things I’ve played before. Having said that, I’m sure it will probably be exceptionally well presented and will most likely be fairly enjoyable in a dumb fun kind of way.

    • diebroken says:

      I’m thinking the same thing might be true for the game…

  10. Uglycat says:

    Wot’s with all the 3rd person stuff – it ruins the immersion.

  11. MonikerInteger says:

    Pretty colours, big stompy bots, big stampy dinos, shooty-shooties, bang-a-langs, unexpected and unnecessary air strikes, unexpected and unnecessary day/night cycles.

    I’ll file this under: Potentially as good as previous Ubisoft/movie director collaboration Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Officially Unexpectedly Awesome Game.

  12. MacBeth says:

    Travel the universe, visit beautiful planets, see amazing wildlife, blow the crap out of everything you meet? I’m with Jimbob – I watched that video thinking “I don’t want to shoot any of those creatures…”

    Is it definitely the case that at some point you switch sides or is it just assumed?

  13. Rich says:

    There might just be a gaming psychology thesis in there somewhere; “Why your virtual enemy should be ugly for you to want to kill it.”

    I suppose it also matters that your enemies don’t have guns. Or seem to be particularly aggressive until provoked. I know the idea is that you start out playing as the bad guys, but they don’t really give any reason to hate the enemy.

  14. CMaster says:

    It’s certainly no Crysis when it comes to jungle environments or even convincing military simulation.

  15. Flappybat says:

    Exterminating cute and/or innocent animals is always more fun than shooting humans.

    More mech vs deer games!

  16. mihor_fego says:

    Sadly, because of the melee combat for the other playable race/faction, they made a 3rd person shooter… which kinda sucks, actually. As does the classic boss fight… Isn’t anyone else tired of them?

    From what I’ve listened from Cameron’s speech at E3, they’ve put a lot of effort in the setting’s design. All the creatures, the ecology and stuff like that, a large part of which I guess will be saved for the game and DVD special editions. Except if you believe they’ve fitted a Bioshock in there.
    It’s also good that this footage shows what human military actually does for the ecosystem. Well, come to think about it, if someone is willing to shoot people, one couldn’t expect much in terms of conscience…

    The game design doesn’t look like much, but the main make or break point for both game and movie will be the story and script. I don’t have much faith that any of these will be good enough, though. Cameron might have written Alien and the first Terminator, much to his credit, but was also responsible for Rambo II, True Lies and Titanic. Damn! still can’t understand what people found in that movie… Anyway, the last time he tried this whole non-horror alien thing, he gave us The Abyss, a movie that was overrated when first out, but certainly worth more than being lost in oblivion.
    The only positive I guess is that the movie and game won’t share the same story. It has always ended in failure when someone tried that.

    • Dominic White says:

      “As does the classic boss fight… Isn’t anyone else tired of them?”

      I’m tired of bad boss fights – the one in the video looks to be one of them. Unfortunately, it seems that good boss design only happens in Japan, except for a few rare exceptions. I don’t think anyone has every played through a Ninja Gaiden game and thought that it would have been improved by removing the bosses.

      Seriously, if you have access to a 360, get the Lost Planet 2 demo. It’s JUST a boss fight, but one against a fifty foot tall space-salamander in a huge open environment, with everything geared towards fighting it cooperatively, attacking it from all angles and even from within. Pretty much sold me on the game immediately.

    • Vandelay says:

      Cameron wrote Aliens not Alien (he had no involvement in the first) and he wrote both The Terminator and T2.

      And there is nothing wrong with True Lies.

  17. SirKicksalot says:

    From IGN:

    Where Avatar sets itself apart from the pack (aside from the stereoscopic 3D visuals) is in its depth and scope, both leaps and bounds ahead of what most licensed movie games offer. Tons of side quests are up for grabs, a full leveling and skill unlocking system is included, and there’s even a little mini-game that plays out a bit like Risk. I played for about a half of an hour spread across two stages and I didn’t even get to scratch the surface on any of these features, let alone complete a quest or two.

    The levels here are huge. So big, in fact, that teleporters have been included to make the trek across the stages manageable. Activate a couple and you’ll be able to quickly zip from one end of a map to the other. This feature is more important than you might initially think. There are roughly 16 stages and enough side quests that you’ll want to backtrack and replay levels to do everything.

    By playing through Avatar’s main adventure, you’ll earn points which can then be spent in a game of global domination. This involves recruiting soldiers, fortifying different positions on maps, and sending troops into enemy territory to do battle. In doing so, you’ll earn experience and other bonuses for the main game. At worst, it looks like a cool little distraction, though I could easily see myself getting hooked on this sub-game.

  18. Jonas says:

    Man these RPS comments threads are almost enough to turn a person completely off computer games. It’s kinda depressing how antithetical the comments are to the general yay-games tone of the RPS posts themselves. Are you guys trying to inoculate yourselves and the rest of us against hype or something? Õ_o

  19. Digit says:

    This is an almost surreal window into general human culture – find a really awesome place, abundant in resources and life, and then rape it. I hope we get to play as the victimised aliens and tears up some military hardware.

    I don’t mean to be a downer on the whole ‘yay games’ part of things. But to be honest, some of the best, most unique, interesting and fun games, have been indie offerings, or rare gems like Majesty 2. I’m sort of sick and tired of the stereotypical, “Let’s blow shit up and be all hard-ass tough marine types.”

    Blowing away horrible, icky disgusting (and clearly evil :p) looking aliens in Lost Planet, compared to slaughtering obviously awesome, colourful and cool looking wildlife in Avatar doesn’t really seem like a fair comparison to me. It’s a bit like games with an evil storyline. It’s fun and cheeky to do the odd underhanded deal in a game, but playing an entire game being a complete prick about things doesn’t really come naturally (or at least I would hope not) to most people. Even in Overlord you play the cool evil guy.

    Also, lastly, can anyone say framerate? If you are going to release a trailer, can it at least run consistently well? :o

    There, that’s my doom/gloom post. Cool games get positive posts, dubious games get dubious posts. :p

  20. mrrobsa says:

    Looks technically proficient, sound design seems decent too. One thing it made me think of which more games need to implement is that when mad shit was happening all around the avatar, it would be nice to have the head turn to look at significant things (Shit, that bridge is collapsing! or Wow, a mech suit!), I think GTA4 did this amongst other games and I think it adds believability and strengthens the bond between player and character since the player’s eye is likely to be drawn to these things too.

  21. Kell says:

    This thing about 3D in movies strikes me as ironic. While computer games have spent far too much time on the ( in my opinion ) fool’s errand of trying to be more and more like movies, movies conversely are trying to compete with the ubiquity of computer technology and culture by trying to be more like games.

    In the Mark Kermode vlog linked above he reads from the press release for My Bloody Valentine 3D, and the word which validates this idea is “immersion”. It is just as much a fool’s errand for hollywood to believe that movies can ever compete with computer games for immersion. At least, of the type they’re refering to in the press release; movies can be powerfully immersive ( think of the steadycam wanderings at the beginning of Alien ) but they can never match the experience of interacting with a game world.

    The one thing I do like about Avatar is that, finally, someone sees that if one is going to make a movie tie-in with a game, or a game tie-in with a movie, the correct thing to do would be not simply make the game a long interactive advert for the movie, or make the movie a long non-interactive advert for the game. The correct thing to do is make both at the same time, and endevour to make each function in its own right. So players of the game can derive something further from the movie, and vice versa.

    Cameron is a visionary in the true sense of the word, so there is justification to be hopeful. He is the man who made The Terminator and Aliens. He is, however, also the man who made The Abyss and Titanic. Which of those Avatar is more like remains to be seen. And played.

    • Vandelay says:

      I do agree with you to some extent about the fact that films can not be as immersive as games. Certainly, when it comes to creating a world and action set pieces, games seem to be the natural place. But, I can’t think of a game that has managed to achieve as much immersion as the best films when it comes to story and characters. For me, I have yet to have a game where I am really emotionally invested in the characters. I’m not sure whether that is necessarily a symptom of the medium (in particular, player agency) or whether game writers just aren’t proficient enough. I sincerely hope it is the later.

      And, as Kermode says in the link I gave above, throwing things at you from the screen is not going to make for a more immersive experience. Instead, it will just push you away and be nothing more than a carnival-like experience. Having said that, I am holding my final judgement until Avatar. Like you say, Cameron is a visionary and he has really shook up the action genre twice, with Aliens and T2 (although I think I probably prefer the less action orientated originals in both cases.) Particularly with T2, the impact had a lot to do with his use of technology. But I wonder if maybe we are just too used to these tricks now and that Avatar won’t be anything particularly special. Certainly from the trailers, I’ve seen nothing that revolutionary. But, time will tell and, for that reason, I am much more interested in seeing the results of the film than I am of the game.

  22. NeonBlackJack says:

    But…I don’t want to shoot the nice doggies :(

  23. Charlie says:

    The game, meh. Total meh. I also don’t wanna shoot the doggies; although for the 7-foot tall blue, night-elvish alien creatures… them I’ll shoot the crap out.

    The movie, mark my words, is going to be another “Dancs with wolves”. On an alien planet. With blue-skins instead of red-skins. But the same story.

  24. Wooly says:

    P-…PAPYRUS!!!! *twitch*

  25. Brass Gerbil says:

    I’m a human consumerist. I’ll buy it as long as I get to shoot hippies and ecotards.

  26. Magnus says:

    All the hype for the film seems out of place… I really can’t see much that’s revolutionary or amazing about it. Ditto the game.

    My pounds will be best spent elsewhere.

  27. A-Scale says:

    What in the bloody fucking hell is this game/movie ABOUT?!

  28. Tei says:

    OH NOES Paypirus font attack again :-)

    Nice video. Again… it seems of the console version, with autoaim and boring “boss battles” stuff.

  29. Cedge says:

    For such a supposedly “game-changing” movie, the tie-in game seems awfully run-of-the-mill.

    Oh well. I don’t mind a plain ol’ shooter sometimes, if it’s well done. As excited as I am for the movie, though, this looks like one to skip, most certainly.

  30. PHeMoX says:

    I’m probably alone at this, but I think it looks nothing like Lost Planet 2. This looks much more casual crowd orientated. I did like the style, but it’s starting to look a bit childish in a way.

    I agree in that Lost Planet 2 looks a whole lot better though!!! (had to check screenshots to really tell, but still. LP2 looks like a Crysis killer to me.)

  31. Hybrid196 says:

    The only cool part was when the environment went to blue or nightime or whatever alien thing happened. Other than that… meh, just like the movie.

  32. JonFitt says:

    It’s nice an colourful, but it looked like a by-the-numbers 3rd person shooter with very little to offer me.
    Total meh.

  33. that_noob says:

    This looks like an mmofps, something straight out of a mmorpg but replacing your sword for a gun. Sure it looks cliche for a mmorpg, but that worked, that’s how it got “cliche.” I think that’s a great place to start when experimenting with a new genre. Start with what works, then go from there. I look forward to trying out this game.

  34. simon says:

    What’s with all the comments about how the game looks? Are you really all that shallow? Yes, fair enough, there are expectations on the graphical prowess of modern games (if only to justify to yourselves how much stupid money you spend on your rig) but seriously, thematic and moral issues should be at the forefront of this game/movie tie-in. As Jim mentioned in the intro above, if anyone bothered to read it. Damn right I’ll be playing as the Pandorans. If the graphics are OK.

  35. Jimbo says:

    Didn’t really see anything new/interesting in that video. Although perhaps they’re going to show the USP stuff nearer to release.

    It’s always hard to make games for films (I work in the games industry)… as developers are really restrained by the license. Apart from X-Wing / Tie-Fighter, that was a good game :-p