The Legend Of Korra Video Game Review (Xbox 360)
The Legend Of Korra Video Game
Developed by – Platinum Games
Published by – Activision
Available on – Xbox 360, Xbox One (Xbox Live Marketplace), Playstation 3, Playstation 4 (PSN) and Steam for PC
Price – â‚¬/$/Â£14.99
At last we have a Korra video game that is not just a simple Nick.com game. After much hype surrounding the announcement, the game is now out and available for all to play. I have purposely waited a week after release to review this game so I could really give myself time to play the game and now I have more or less finished the game 100%, so I feel I am ready and in the perfect position to review this game.
Overall I really enjoyed this game, I definitely got my 15 euro’s worth. As a Korra fan it is such a great experience being able to take control of Korra and use bending and explore various places we all know from the show and as a big gamer I was very impressed with the general gameplay and graphics. It is by no means perfect, as there are a few issues, but this is definitely the best Avatar game we have ever had. So if you want a quick recommendation, I would definitely recommend this game to any Avatar fan, perhaps if you are a super hardcore gamer who is not into Avatar/Korra and plays every game Platinum releases this may seem a bit under featured, but for a downloadable game I feel you definitely get good value.
Now before I get into specifics I should probably tell you more about myself as a gamer, you all know I love Avatar, but this is the first Korra video game so I have never mentioned them much. I am pretty into video games, currently I have an Xbox 360, 3DS and Wii U and the games I have been playing recently have been: Destiny, Super Smash Bros 3DS and Formula 1 2014. As you can see a fairly big variety of games, a first person shooter, a fighting game and a racing game, I also play games like Fifa and strategy games like Fire Emblem, so I end up playing a bit of everything.
With that in mind when the Korra game came out it managed to do something Smash Bros and F1 2014 both have struggled to do for me, pull me away from Destiny. Obviously playing it initially was all about the hype, but I have returned to play this Korra game multiple times.
Gameplay in this game is separated into 3 different types: The Main part of the game is a 3rd person combo based beat’em up where you play as Korra, there are sections where you are on Naga and you control her jumping and dodging as you run through various levels to get to the end without hitting anything (Think Sonic Dash or Temple run with a few extra things going on and a definite end to the levels) and the final type are the pro bending sections where you play as Korra on the Fire Ferrets and you play full matches of Pro Bending.
Again remember this is a 15 dollar downloadable title, the fact that they went out of their way to make 2 other game types in addition to the main one is pretty impressive. Sure the Naga and Pro Bending games are not as fully featured as they could have been in the sense that the Naga sections do not have an “Endless mode” where you try to go as far as you can, and the Pro Bending game does not have multiplayer, but what they do add to the game is some nice variety breaking up the combo based fighting that could have gotten repetitive if that was all the game was.
The main gameplay is very fun, easy to get into, but hard to master. It controls like most 3rd person games, left analogue stick to move, A (on Xbox) to jump. You have 2 attacks: light (X) and Heavy (Y) and all of your combos are combinations of these, left trigger is for countering attacks and guarding if you hold it down while right trigger is dodge, B is your finishing move which you can use if you have your opponent dazed and finally you can switch between elements using right and left bumper. These are the basic controls and you can fairly easily get through casual mode just using these and not really trying to pull of combos too much, but when it comes to the harder difficulties you really have Â to master some of the more advanced controls. As you level up your elements you unlock more and more combos and your chi bar increases, this chi bar is essential if you want to succeed on Extreme mode. Your chi bar is effectively a charge bar for your attacks, it has 3 sections meaning you have 3 different levels to which you can charge your attacks, but holding down either attack button you charge your chi bar and the longer you hold it the more segments of your chi bar you fill, the more you fill the more damage your attacks do. This feature does not just add damage to your attacks, it also changes the animation for each attack, one of your standard air combos involves Korra doing a sequence of acrobatics creating gusts of wind around her, but when you fully charge this attack these same movements are now creating multiple hurricanes that swirl around you damaging enemies over a wide area. It is a very cool effect and makes doing you combos more unique to see what the animation looks like with each level of charge.
You also have access to the Avatar State towards the end of the game, once your special meter is full you press left and right bumper at the same time and you activate the Avatar State. With this active you only have 2 attacks a heavy attack where you unleash huge bursts of each element around you and a light attack where you fire a large projectile of the element at the opponent.
Combat is very fun, especially when you finish the game for the first time and have access to all of the elements and abilities. It is a very cool feeling entering a big enemy encounter and being able to decide at any moment which element you want to use, because each element has strengths and weaknesses. Water is best for ranged combat, but struggles when you are very close to enemies or if there are a lot of enemies around you, Earth is the most powerful, but also the slowest, great if you have time to get it going and you need to do big damage or clear out groups of enemies, Fire has very little range but is the quickest to pull off, you can easily get some big combo numbers with firebending and lastly Air is a nice balance of a little of everything, it has some range, some area of effect, it is reasonably quick, but lacks some power. No one element is better than the others which means there is always a use for each if the right situation arises.
The only frustration I had with the combat was that sometimes you were put in situations where progressing was way too focused on perfectly timing your counter attacks. At times you can really get trapped by enemies constantly hitting you and knocking you over only for you to get up and immediately get hit again, because you missed that counter timing. It is only on a few occasions that this happens (Read “A group of blue chi blockers”) thankfully.
The final boss I also find to be a bit frustrating, simply because it is a fight that I find difficult to do well at. I can beat it easily enough, but I never feel like I am finding a flow. If you have played the game, it is a fight I am finding difficult to get a gold or above rank on. The main problem is again with countering, not the same as I described above, but with him since he has so many different attacks I find it difficult to know which attacks I can counter and which ones I cannot. Thankfully the final boss overall is still a pretty food set piece moment, so it is not massively frustrating.
The game is not just fighting, there is a light collecting component to the game. While most levels are just large open areas to fight connected to each other, there are a few secret areas where you can find treasure chests which contain collectible items. These items don’t do anything, they are only there as collectible, but what is great about them is that they are all items we have seen before in the shows. The first item I found was a cabbage, but not just any cabbage, the cabbage with Kanna’s face on it that Katara holds in “The Puppetmaster”, that is an amazing reference. Other items include Nuktuk posters, the map to The Rally, a radio and so on.
There is also a shop in the game where you can purcase various items that you can use. From healing and revival items all the way up to scrolls containing new combos and talismans which add various effects to Korra. One example of a talisman is that it grants you unlimited charged Chi, so you never have to spend time charging, but at the expense of cutting your health in half. Fun reference is that the shop is called Iroh’s spirit shop and he says a few lines when you buys stuff from him.
Pro Bending has it’s own option on the menu where you play through 5 pro bending matches one after the other with 3 difficulty modes. It is nothing fancy, but the actual gameplay is surprisingly deep. You really do feel like you are playing a full on sport, there is a lot of strategy to succeeding here, especially on the highest difficulty. I found my best strategy was to push the opposing team back one zone one by one and then in the second phase of the round attempt to knock one opponent back 2 zones and knock them out of the round leaving it 3 on 2 for the remainder of the round and leaving you a big chance for a knockout victory. The controls are just a more basic version of the main gameplay controls. Heavy attack and Light attack, no combos, you can still dodge, guard and counter, but you cannot charge chi and so on. It is a game I would love to see get a multiplayer update at some stage, as I think it would make a really cool competitive game. While what is here is fine given that this is a downloadable game, there are some clear paths that this game could take if Platinum were to get to make a full game. I would love to play this game in 6 player 3 on 3. The last few fights on the hardest difficulty were very tough and when I did eventually win, I really felt like I accomplished something, that my strategy and approach to that match got me the win.
The Naga levels don’t get their own mode, but when you finish them you do unlock the ability to just play these parts instead of having to finish the full story mission to get to the Naga section. I was not expecting much from these levels, but I ended up really enjoying them, what really surprised me was the amount of controls for such a simple premise. In addition to moving left and right in the 3 “lanes” of the “road” ahead you can jump, slide under things, have Naga swipe at things to destory them and have Korra use her bending for various effects. Earth is a double jump, Fire can destroy things more easily than Naga’s swipes, Water is a shield against bumping into small obstacles and Air is a speed boost. The one boss you fight on Naga, is probably the best showcase of this section. You really do have to effectively use all of the options you have to win, especially on extreme mode where you only have 1 health, one hit and you have to restart.
I think the graphics in this game are perfect. Sure from a technical standpoint they are probably doing nothing that is worth writing home about, but this is a Korra game, transitioning these characters and this world from Studio Mir’s amazing animation to 3d graphics needed the correct style. The choice of cell shaded 3d models is perfect, in my mind the only way to really capture the show’s style in 3d. Ther character models are spot on, perhaps lacking some of the detail of Studio Mir, but they look like the characters. Even just letting Korra stand still in the middle of a level and seeing her do all these energetic exercises like she is raring to get into a fight, it is clear to see that the creators of this game knew the show well and really animated a lot of personality into Korra’s movements.
The only problem with the game that I have from a graphics/design point of view is that except for Hundun, there are no new designs used in the game. For the most part this is all explained away, but then you see the triads. As part of the story Hundun has control of the Triads, this sounds like a cool concept until you realise there are only 6 different triad enemies you fight. 3 of them we know well: Viper, Two Toed Ping and their earth bender friend who badly needs a name who Korra fought in episode 1, but then the other 3 are also Viper, Two Toed Ping and the Earthbender guy, just recoloured in an attempt to make them look different. Exact same models just different colours, which works fine for the chi blockers who are not unique named characters like these 3, them wearing different colours works fine. But Viper now with blond hair and different coloured clothes comes across as a bit lazy, I wouldn’t have minded if they had even done something like taking Viper’s hat and giving it to Ping for the recolour, but they are identical minus the colours.
The other graphics thing I need to mention are the traditionally animated cutscenes by Titmouse Animation. These all look gorgeous, you can tell they have worked on Avatar before, but that their style is a bit different compared to Studio Mir and Studio Pierrot. There are 8 levels in the game and roughly you get 2 cutscenes per level one at the start and one at the end, it is slightly changed up form level to level, but in general that is the format. Each cutscene is roughly a minute long, so you don’t get a massive amount of dialogue or visuals, but they work well to move the story along. There is nothing wrong with the animation, any problems are purely from a story point of view.
Spoiler Warning. I am going to talk about the full story here, so be aware.
While I have noticed many fans going into this game being super hyped and coming out a bit disappointed, for me that only applies to the story. The gameplay is fun, but the story I did expect more from, especially with Tim Hedrick on board and Mike and Bryan somewhat involved. There is an interesting story here, the problem is that they leave out so much detail that I think is essential to telling the story present effectively. It is a downloadable game and so in general you expect a simple “Korra encounters a new enemy and defeats a new enemy” story, and in essence that is what you get, Korra is the only character in the game more or less. Mako and Bolin are present at the start and end, but the main story is Korra fighting Hundun, with Jinora acting as your classic “Video game helper” in spirit form.
What I take from this game is that the story Tim Hedrick wrote for the game is actually pretty good, but the way they told it in the game leaves out a lot of important detail that I think should have been included.
The story is very basic right up until the final encounter with Hundun. We get an explanation for why Hundun controls Chi Blockers, Triads and Dark Spirits. With Amon gone, the Equalists remained present, but were lacking a leader until Hundun arrived and pretended that he believed in their ideals getting them on his side to fight against a common foe, Korra. He simply paid the Triads for their services which makes complete sense. And as for the Dark Spirits we know Mike and Bryan have said before that if a human meditates into the spirit world and leaves their body behind over time they gradually become a spirit and gain spirit powers, Hundun has been trapped in the spirit world for 1000 years so it makes sense that he can control Dark Spirits. His overall plan it to take revenge on the current Avatar for what the Avatar 1000 years ago did to him, he plans to do this by extracting all of the Avatar’s chi and regaining a physical body for himself to return to the physical world once more. My first problem is that this backstory of Hundun fighting the past Avatar badly needed to be shown to us in a cutscene, and not just explained in 2 lines of dialogue. It is so essential to the story and understanding Hundun.
But the biggest reason it needed to be shown was the big shocking reveal just before the final boss fight. Hundun reveals that his hunchback is in fact his brother literally attached to his back and that the fight 1000 years ago was not just between him and the Avatar, but his brother was there too fighting against the Avatar also, but his brother was badly wounded in battle by the Avatar causing Hundun to retreat into the spirit world, leaving him trapped until Korra opened the spirit portal. The problem is that they do not say flat out if Hundun and his brother are conjoined twins or if they were originally not attached, but when Hundun saw his brother wounded and decided to retreat he tried to bring his brother with him and ended up merging their spirits together. The issue I have is that if they were actually physically conjoined, why would their spirit be physically conjoined also, why does his brother not speak and so on. As I said there are some crazy interesting things going on here, but it is all presented so vaguely that it is hard to know for sure the facts of what happened, hence why I think it was an utterly idiotic decision to not show a flashback of the Avatar 1000 years ago fighting Hundun and his brother. Also I hate that they did not name this other Avatar, because it is not like this Avatar is so many lives ago that they make make some timeline error, this Avatar is probably only about 6-8 Avatars ago.
Lets try to work it out.
Korra right now is 21
We go back 74 years to the time when Aang was 12 at the end of ATLA (74)
We go back 100 more years to account for the time Aang was in ice (174)
We go back 12 years to Aang’s birth/Roku’s death (186)
We go back 70 years to Roku’s birth/Kyoshi’s death as Roku was 70 when he died (256)
We go back 230 years to Kyoshi’s birth/Kuruk’s death as Kyoshi amazingly lived to be 230 years old (486)
Kuruk was only 33 when he died so we go back 33 years from here (519)
We don’t know how long Yangchen lived for, but she was the Avatar in a time of peace so we assume she lived a full life, lets just say 90 years as people seem to live fairly long in the Avatar world (609)
So that Â is around 600 years ago already just with the Avatars that we know, we probably have the design of this Avatar that fought Hundun already from Book 2 Spirits in the hall of Avatars.
Anyway, back to the story. There are a few other cool things mentioned here. The reason the city has money for repairs post book 2 is because of a charity pro bending tournament that the Fire Ferrets enter. We see the first match at the start of the game and the final match at the end. The final is between the Fire Ferrets and the Wolf Bats who are revealed to have been given their bending back by Korra, the Fire Ferrets win the tournament getting revenge for their Book 1 Air loss.
It is explained why you don’t see Tenzin and co on Air Temple Island, they are on their way back from visiting Katara. The reason you don’t see people on the streets in the Republic City levels is because they take place in an abandoned part of the city overtaken by spirit vines and damaged by the Korra and Unavaatu fight.
Overall the story interests me and is fine for the length of this game, but it would have been amazing if they had explained things towards the end better, right now much of the depth in this story is purely based in speculation.
If you are a Korra Fan I think you will enjoy this game, as it is the best Avatar game we have ever gotten. Remember that this is a downloadable title that is a quarter of the price of a full retail game, temper your expectations to this fact and you will get a lot of fun and enjoyment out of this game. It is not perfect, but there is a core here that can easily be expanded upon if the opportunity for a full game release comes up, but given this game’s low price you get 8 solid levels with some good replay value across the 3 difficulty levels. I am nearly 100% finished the game, with just a few items to find, I would say I have put around 10 hours into this game, which for 15 euros is perfectly fine with me.
Score – 7.5/10
+A fun experience for any Korra fan to take control of Korra in this world for the first time
+A nice variety of gameplay with the 3 different game types
+Graphics are the perfect way to show this universe in the video game medium
+Fighting mechanics are very solid and fun
+Decent replay value with collecting all the items and levelling up your bending.
-Story needed more detail
-Sometimes defeating enemies is too reliant on counters
-Lazy Triad enemy recolours
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