Posted on October 23, 2014, Mitchell Saltzman The Legend of Korra: The Game Review – Budget Platinum
On paper, the marriage of Platinum Games and The Legend of Korra should be the best match up of developer and license since Batman got hitched with Rocksteady. On the one hand you have a studio responsible for some of the best action games of all time in Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising, with key developers who worked on Devil May Cry, God Hand, and Viewtiful Joe. And on the other hand you have The Legend of Korra, one of the very few currently airing American cartoons with exemplary storytelling, a rich universe filled with great characters, and some of the best action scenes you’ll find on TV.
While playing through The Legend of Korra: The Game, there are glimpses of the great game that you’d think Platinum Games would make for Korra. The problem is that everything surrounding the solid foundation that the game is built upon feels overwhelmingly cheap and hastily thrown together, leaving us with a $15 budget title that appropriately feels like a $15 budget title.
The Legend of Korra: The Game
Platform: PS4 (Reviewed), PS3, PC, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Developer: Platinum Games
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Let’s get one thing out of the way first: If you’re a fan of the show looking to immerse yourself in a new story set in the Avatar universe, this is not your game. The story simply serves as a method to move the action from one location to the next and the main conflict in the story, which involves the equalists returning for some reason and robbing Korra of her bending abilities, serves as a way to make Korra powerless at the beginning of the game so the player can regain her powers as they progress through the game.
You won’t find any familiar faces outside of Jinora, who serves as your magical plot fairy that reminds Korra of how to use her bending whenever she’s far enough along in the game. Mako and Bolin make a brief cameo at the beginning and end of the game, but for the most part, this is a one woman show. It’s a big shame too because the chemistry between the characters is one of the best aspects of The Legend of Korra. Without it, the dialogue is lifeless and mostly just consists of Korra talking to herself or the nameless thugs she’s beating up.
All of the voices from the show return, but seem to lack the quality of direction found in the actual show. Jinora in particular sounds completely different from how she normally sounds, to the point where I actually had to check the credits to make sure she wasn’t a voice match. Even Janet Varney, who typically is fantastic as Korra, has a couple of moments in the game where it feels like she isn’t giving her best reads.
Oddly enough, Steve Blum, who did the voice of the main antagonist of season one, Amon, also provides the voice of the antagonist of the game. Now I love Steve Blum as much as anyone, but he has a very distinct and recognizable voice and it just seems like a strange casting choice to make him voice another villainous chi blocker.
I’m willing to forgive a lot of the issues surrounding the story and presentation of the game though because in the end, this is a $15 budget game, and one has to imagine that a majority of the issues most likely stem from not having much money to work with. Fortunately, the action of the game fairs much better.
The Legend of Korra utilizes a two button combat system that is heavily reliant on counters, very similar to the combat system found in Metal Gear Rising. Square is for quick light attacks, which can be punctuated with a press of triangle for a slower heavy attack. Pressing L2 right before an enemy attack connects will trigger a counter attack that can result in massive damage and sends all surrounding enemies away. Enemies will flash red just before they attack to let the player know when to counter, but the timing window is very strict and enemies have multiple attacks. Some even have attacks that cannot be countered and instead must be dodged, and all of these attacks have different timing windows. Needless to say, this game can be pretty tough, as any fan of Platinum Games would expect.
Korra eventually gains access to all four of her bending powers, each one with its own particular use. Water bending is great for attacking enemies from a far distance, earth bending is ideal for dealing with large enemies with tons of health, air bending is the best at dealing with massive amounts of enemies all at once, and fire bending is there for those who like to show off with fancy air combos.