If anyone has been following my previous reviews for The Legend of Korra (on Blu-ray) you’ll know I’ve been a big Avatar fan ever since the show debuted back in 2005. Of course, it goes without saying that I knew the spin-off series, The Legend of Korra, was going to be a hit when it came along. With the show now starting it’s fourth season we finally have a video game from Platinum Games (Bayonetta, The Wonderful 101) that does a good but not great job bringing the series to the interactive world in The Legend of Korra videogame.
Taking place between the second and third seasons of the show, our story kicks off with Korra opening the spirit portals after the events in the second season, which allows the spirit and physical worlds to be united for the first time in thousands of years. Sadly thanks to this, an evil being named Hundun that had been locked away in the spirit world makes his escape and begins causing destruction while plotting to get back at the Avatar for imprisoning him. It falls on you to help Korra use the four elements of fire, earth, air, and water to stop Hundun and his evil plan.
The first stage you enter serves as a tutorial of sorts, as you’ll learn which buttons control your light and strong attacks, switch between elements / fighting stances, make you block and dodge, and of course jump. Like a lot of games out there, Korra starts off with all of her powers unlocked, so once you learn switching between the elements grants different ways of attacking (water gives you ranged attacks, earth is slow but strong, etc) and mixing up your attacks to form combos, you truly feel like a butt-kicking deity of sorts. But sadly after the tutorial level ends, Korra’s powers are taken away by Hundun and you must make your way through the game to get them back one by one.
Fans of the series will easily recognize some of the locations of the stages you’ll fight in, such as Republic City and others. As you make your way through, there’s spirit energy you can collect that serves as currency for items you can buy that will help, such as health recovery items and power-ups. There’s also hidden treasure boxes to find if you explore and jump around high enough to get to them. While these parts of the game are good and will satisfy most who play, it’s not without issues.
One of the biggest problems I had with the game, is that it feels rushed overall. Everything from the so-so jumping / platforming, the lack of different enemies to fight (you’ll be fighting masked ninja guys and mech-like bosses A LOT), to the endless runner levels featuring Korra’s pet / mount named Naga, things just don’t come together like they should when you’re playing. The Naga parts just feel like a tacked-on decision by someone that said “Hey, let’s add a Temple Run-like part to the game. That’ll be fun right?”. There’s also little reason to switch between the elements as you play, except for one boss where you have to use different ones in order to bring it down. The game is also pretty short, as there’s only about 3-5 hours of gameplay depending on if you take the time to explore everything or just fight your way on without stopping.
Besides that though, at least the graphics and sound capture the look and feel of the show. While they won’t push your platform to the limit, the cel-shaded visuals are detailed and clean enough, while the animations are fluid and move nicely as you dish out your bending attacks. The audio does its job pretty well, as the voice cast from the show reprise their roles, while the music is just enough to keep you in the game while you play. There’s also some high definition animated cutscenes that were specially made for this game from the same studio that does the series. And what would Korra be without some Pro-bending sport action, which thankfully made its way here. These parts are a welcomed addition that break up some of the monotony of the main game where Korra and two teammates use their bending powers against another bending team to see which group can knock all three of their players off a large platform. For those who enjoy this, there’s a full pro-bending tournament mode you can unlock once you’ve beaten the game.
Platinum Games had an opportunity to make a great The Legend of Korra game, but sadly only made a decent one. No doubt fans of Nick’s hit animated series or the developer’s previous games will probably be satisfied long enough to finish playing through, but the less fanatical may question what all the fuss is about. Mediocre platforming, enemies, and the tacked-on Naga endless runner levels bring down what could’ve been a great experience, yet hardcore airbending fans and those looking for something different to play over the weekend should get their bending fix here.