The Legend of Korra is a beat em title from PlatinumGames. Based on the popular and critically acclaimed Nickelodeon television series of the same name, the newest game takes place during Seasons 2 and 3. Was the developer able do the series and character justice, or does The Legend of Korra fall to the same trappings as many other license titles before it? Sadly its the latter.
After being ambushed by the Chi-Blocker lead by a mysterious foe, Avatar Korra finds herself without the ability to bend the elements (Fire, Earth, Water and Air). Our feisty protagonist manages to escape and then sets out to track down the powerful stranger and regain her abilities. What follows is a fairly straight forward yet uninteresting plot, one that lacks the series signature charm and humor. Despite its well-acted voice overs and dialogue, this story just fails to engage or standout.
The cutscenes are presented in the same hand drawn art style as the cartoon, which is a nice touch but sadly it doesn’t always maintain the same level of quality. Graphics are done in a nice cel-shaded style to match the look of the show. The music is ripped straight from the show and does a good job of capturing its essence, so it is real a shame the story underwhelms having been written by someone who has worked on the TV series.
Platinum’s specialty has always been combat and they do a good job of bringing the Legend of Korra’s, stylized elemental fighting into the game. Players will mix together Korra’s, light and heavy attacks to pull off devastating and stylish combos. As the game progresses and she regains her bending abilities one by one, you will be able to switch between any element on the fly with the press of the button. Each element has its own unique style and special moves. Earthbending is all about slow but powerful attacks while firebending emphasizes quickness at close range. To deal with foes at long range, waterbending is the way to go but my personal favorite, airbending, allows Korra to move at great speeds while unleashing both long range and close range attacks. Having all four styles in her arsenal adds a good deal of variety to the game’s combat.
Instantly switching from water bending an enemy, to smashing rocks in their face and then blowing them away, is as fun to watch as it is to pull off — especially when engaging multiple foes at once, and a great way to keep your combo going. Combining attacks is not enough though, as players will have to properly utilize the ability to counter and dodge her enemies in order to survive.
Players can level up their bending styles by defeating enemies, increasing their effectiveness in battle and unlocking new combo moves. In order to acquire these new moves, they will have to be purchased with spirit points. Spirit points are earned by defeating enemies, landing high combos, smashing open hidden chests. There are also a variety of items to purchase, including health potions, talismans that provide stats boost and more. It is a decent progression system that rewards players for playing and playing well.
As with any title from Platinum, players can expect to be rated on how well they did in battle. Depending on how quickly Korra defeats her enemies and how high of a combo count you manage to achieve, you’ll be given either a gold, silver or bronze medal. If there is a platinum medal, I haven’t gotten it. At the end of each chapter — of which there are eight in total, you will also be rewarded with a medal for your overall performance and a boost to how much spirit energy you receive. This offers the player a pretty good incentive to replay chapters and try to improve their score. Too bad the rest of the game doesn’t.
While combat is fun, it suffers from an issue the developer can’t seem to get right, the camera. When engaging groups of enemies, the camera will occasionally shift to an odd angle, obscuring the players view. This becomes even more problematic when using the game’s lock-on system, as the camera moves in closer to Korra, once again blocking your view of a majority of your opposition. The most annoying experience is when battling the game’s bosses, or when facing more than one at a time. The Legend of Korra’s bosses are pretty big, one alone takes up a considerable amount of space on screen. Having two of them, drives the camera bonkers, making the confrontations more difficult than they should be. Adding to that frustration, the boss battles are just down right boring. To make things worse, they lack variety and you will find yourself fighting the same types on multiple occasions. It seems rather lazy from a design standpoint.
To break up the constant fighting in the story mode, The Legend of Korra features a mini-game called ‘Run, Naga Run’. These sections function much like those endless runner games, except there is an actual destination. Korra navigate Naga through certain hazardous areas, jumping, sliding and side-stepping to avoid obstacles. Successfully doing so, will cause Naga, to go faster increasing the difficulty but sadly not its fun factor. Even with Korra’s bending abilities, this mini-game never manages to be anything more than a time waster.
Finishing the game’s story — which only takes around 4-6 hours, unlocks the entertaining but somewhat frustrating Pro-Bending mode. On the show, Pro-bending is a sport featuring teams consisting of three benders (Water, Earth & Fire), who face off in 3-on-3 matches inside a six-sided arena. To win, one team has to either eliminate their opponents by either knocking them out of the ring or by capturing their zones. Taking control of Korra, players will attempt to lead the Fire Ferretts to victory by defeating five other teams in the tournament.
That one guy is screwed!
The controls are pretty much the same, except Korra is limited to using waterbending while her friends Bolin and Mako, take care of the earth and firebending. Dodging your opponents and countering their attacks during these pro-bending matches is crucial. The matches themselves are fast paced and fun. Playing on the higher difficulty levels result in more fun experiences, for the most part. Expect a lot of back and forth action, as you and your opponents fight for control over the zones. Unfortunately the increased difficulty also brings problems.
The effectiveness of Bolin and Mako’s bending depend on how high Korra’s earth and firebending skills are in story mode. Maxing them out would seem like the ideal thing to do, except they don’t seem to make a difference. Playing on the highest difficulty (Ace), seems to ignore any of that. While the A.I. of your opponents play smarter, your teammates seem to stay the same, or even behave worse. Instead of working together, as the game’s loading screen hints suggest, they tend to do their own thing. Or nothing at all. Seriously, I’ve lost track of how many times Bolin just stood there refusing to attack. It was still possible for us to win the first four matches despite the issues, but the fifth and final match is another story. The difficulty seems to increase tenfold, resulting in an enormously frustrating experience. Best to just avoid that difficulty unless you really want the trophy or achievement for it. I’m sure it is beatable, but it isn’t worth the high blood pressure.
The Legend of Korra isn’t a bad title, it just isn’t a good one. Combat is fun but suffers from a cumbersome camera and delves into frustrating territory when battling the multiple boring and repetitive bosses. The game may have the show’s look and sounds but it lacks its heart and fails to deliver a meaningful story. Its min-games are either boring or decent yet frustrating. Die-hard fans of the series, may find some reason to still pick this up but those of you looking for a great Korra game, look else where.
Overall Score: 6/10
RGN Rating: Okay
Available on: PS3 | PS4 | Xbox 360 | Xbox One | PC
Played on: Sony’s PlayStation 4
Review copy info: A digital copy of this game was purchased for the purpose of this review.
Editor’s Note: RealGamerNewZ has moved web servers, some older posts can no longer be commented on and have been preserved without their images. Thank you for your understanding in this matter. This article was written by Jermain Jackson on 20141025 and was last modified on 20141025 .