Platinum are amongst my favourite developers in the world. From the recently released Bayonetta 2 to the truly sublime, Vanquish, this is a development team with craft and invention to spare. Even their weaker offerings such as, Wonderful 101 and Anarchy Reigns are still highly polished and often extremely inventive experiences in their own right. …….so, what the hell happened with The Legend Of Korra?
The fact that Activision payrolled development probably played a part – as did the fact that this is an animated tie-in, but excuses aside, the bottom line is that this is Platinum’s first genuinely bad video game…..ok, their first genuinely average video game. It’s certainly not without its positives and, despite the clearly rushed development, there are certainly signs of that classic Platinum magic to be mined, but for this most part, this is a technically dubious and artistically uninspired offering from a company that usually excels in both fields.
A hugely popular spin-off from the even more popular Nickelodeon cartoon, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend Of Korra is set decades after the events of Avatar, with the story (in the game at least), seeing Korra lose all of her ‘bending’ powers at the start of the game. Each power is then, in typical video game fashion, returned as you progress to offer an array of technically limited, but at least visually impressive elemental attacks. The story itself doesn’t break any new ground, but the animations from the show are implemented with a degree of care and the characters and enemies rolled out as one would expect.
Sure, it’s just re-treading the show, but let’s be honest, any semblance of story is little more than an excuse to get you involved in an array of battles with a collection of familiar and ultimately oft repeated enemies. They all look the part, but repetition quickly sets in due to a lack of variation and a complete absence of the kind of nuance found in Platinum’s own Bayonetta 2. The fact that these are released in such close proximity is especially maddening as Bayonetta 2 gives you a look at what Platinum is capable of under the right circumstances with Korra proving unequivocally that even the most talented of developers can only do so much with a limited budget and an extremely tight development schedule. Korra isn’t without its positives, but make no mistake, this sure as sh*t is no Bayonetta.
The, dare I say, Bayonetta-like combat makes up the vast majority of gameplay with enemies defeated via an array of basic combos. Losing your power ensures that the introduction to battle is a gentle one, but despite your additional bending powers unlocking as you progress, with no enemies in any way susceptible to specific elemental attacks, these moves provide little more than additional eye candy rather than any genuine tactical advantage. Sure, they all look cool, and combining elemental attacks is rarely boring, but other than delivering a unique way to take out enemies, in no way deliver the diversity in mechanics that this game so sorely requires. It’s still technically competent and will probably provide fans of the show with just enough carrot to get them over the finish line, but between the lack of imagination, the overly simplified battle system and an extremely questionable camera, those who would consider themselves fans of the developer rather than the show, need not apply.
Saying that, the boss battles are admittedly decent (albeit repeated ad nauseam by the end of the game) and the collection of mini games that include ‘pro-bending’ sports matches and endless runner-style chases, while rather simplistic, do at least deliver a bit of variety in a game that can otherwise be strolled through via a small selection of basic combo attacks. They’re certainly not enough to warrant the interest of the uninitiated, but again, provide yet another reason for fans of the show to at least take notice. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an especially easy game, but unlike the best of the genre, a knowledge of combos isn’t likely to help. Sadly, Korra offers up more in the way of infuriation than it does in terms of genuine technical challenge.
Some clever use of the source material, pleasant visuals and a solid if uninspired set of core mechanics ensures that fans of show won’t leave too disappointed, but the lack of imagination, the absence of nuance and the overriding sense of repetition will come as something of a shock to those expecting anything on par with Platinum’s previous work. This was obviously gun for hire work, and in that respect, Platinum have arguably done their job, but in a week that sees Platinum’s own Bayonetta 2 hitting store shelves, it’s genuinely hard to believe that this game could have come from the same company.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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