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Avatar - The Last Airbender: Into the Inferno
Score: 48%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: THQ
Developer: THQ Studios Australia
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Platformer

Graphics & Sound:
Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of my favorite modern cartoons; the characters were solid and the story was pretty good. Yet there seems to be serious issues when bringing those characters to videogames, and Avatar - The Last Airbender: Into the Inferno is no exception.

When talking about the look of the game, there isn't really anything wrong. The characters look appropriate and the environments also feel like the same locations from the show. Though, it's hard to go back to the PS2 level graphics after being in the Xbox 360 and PS3 era for this much time.

Audio is fairly mediocre. While the voices of the main character do appear to be the same as the show, they feel more like they were sampled from the TV series than re-recorded and often don't sound quite right. Outside of that, the enemy one-liners are said all to frequently and quickly grow annoying. At least the music has the appropriate Asian flair to it, and helps a lot as far as giving you an Avatar feel.

Avatar - The Last Airbender: Into the Inferno follows the show's third and final season, Book Three: Fire, and has Aang attempting to learn firebending (from the most unlikely of teachers) in order to stop the Fire Lord before a comet passes by and causes all of the firebenders in the world to become unstoppable for a short time.

While the game falls short in quite a few places, Into the Inferno does seem to do a fair job sticking to the series' story, which is good since this is a very eventful and climactic part of the Avatar tale.

For the most part, gameplay takes on the form of an action/platformer where you will be going through linear level after linear level, taking out waves of firebenders. You will be able to play as Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph and even Zuko, and switch between them at will (once the characters become available, of course). Each one has their own abilities, like Katar's waterbending and Toph's earthbending, but seeing as Aang can do both of those, along with his airbending, and eventually firebending, there becomes little purpose to switch off of him.

One of the effects I actually really liked was the level map. Fans of the show will recognize the world map to be the same stylized view of the world as seen in the series' opening sequence, but now it is rendered in a more 3D fashion, and a little Appa with Aang on top floats above it as you fly from location to location.

Besides the level locations, you can also use the map to visit Ember Island. Here you can use the money you earn in levels to buy everything from artwork to new abilities. There are even a couple of mini-games that will have Aang fly around the island in order to earn more money and unlock more things to buy.

Avatar - The Last Airbender: Into the Inferno's gameplay isn't really a challenge at all. Enemies will attack you in waves that can be fairly easily managed, though maybe not if you do a lot of button-mashing. Getting a good handle on using some of the bending attacks as well as combos is the trick to plowing through the hordes of firebenders that will stand between you and the game's ending.

What does make the game hard, though, is actually using your bending abilities, but I will talk about that a bit more in the next section.

Game Mechanics:
Avatar - The Last Airbender: Into the Inferno's got the basic controls down pretty solid, its when the game implements a way for you to use your various bending abilities that it loses a lot. Its pretty obvious from the implementation that the PS2 version of the game is merely a port of the Wii one. You see, you have a cursor on the screen that you control with one of the analog sticks. When you hover over something like water or a batch of dirt, the cursor's icon changes to show you can bend it. Then, with a press of the (R1) button, you grab that element and can do various things to it (like freeze water, move rocks, throw water, etc.). If you can't bend anything in particular, then you can bend air and move a gust of wind about the screen.

Needless to say, the problem with this setup is trying to manipulate the cursor with an analog stick instead of a Wii-mote, you just don't have fine enough control to move the objects (be it water, wind, fire or earth) where you want it to go. A good example is in the game's first level. When a second Fire Nation ship starts hurling flaming rocks at you, you must douse them out with a puddle of water, then earthbend the rocks so that they sit on your own catapults. The most painful part of that process is moving the rocks close enough to your weapons to get them to snap into place and send them flying.

I'm sorry, but I just can't recommend Into the Inferno. While the story seemed to play out fairly close to the series, it was a real chore just convincing myself to continue the game because of how iffy the controls were. Since the game was designed for the Wii, maybe that version is a bit more palatable, but the PS2 release is best left untouched.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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