I felt like talking about Legend of Korra this week. Let’s get to it.
I played this game and quickly didn’t think I was ever going to review it. But I wanted to review something to finish out the week and it was either LoK or Contrast. I’m still not sure what my opinion of Contrast is just yet so Legend of Korra was chosen instead. Enjoy!
A Paladin’s Steam Review: Legend of Korra. An Experience that is Entirely Inconsequential.
- Genre: Fantasy 3rd person Beat-Em-Up Fighting TV-Tie-In.
- Developed and Published by: Platinum Games & Activision.
- Platform: Windows and Consoles.
- Business Model: Base Game
- Copy Purchased by Myself
Overall Gameplay Thoughts
Legend of Korra is a tie-in game to the animated series of the same name. It follows Korra, the Avatar who controls and manipulates the four elements of the world: fire, earth, water and air to keep the world in balance, as she sets out to stop a new big bad guy from destroying the world…or throwing the world into chaos…or cooking cookies for all the other bad guys. I can’t remember because it’s so generic and cliche a plot that it quickly fades into the background. It’s a short campaign of beating everything up that moves into the ground. The entire experience of this videogame is inconsequential.
An ancient evil force has emerged from the portals and threatens the balance of both worlds! Only the Avatar stands a chance in defeating this new threat!
It doesn’t get much more generic a plotline than this I’m afraid. While the Avatar series has used this formula in the past, what Legend of Korra the videogame seemingly forgets is what happens between the start and stop of this plot. There’s character interactions, drama, choices that need to be made and often an underlying moral either being taught or challenged in the TV show. In the videogame, none of that is present. It’s just Korra and Jinora (who has very little to actually say) VS the evil force. It even reintroduces the Korra loses her bending abilities because of a mcguffin again because we didn’t get enough of that plot in season one apparently. (/sarcasm) Most of the story is just Korra fighting her way through waves of enemies in linear corridors while trying to recover her bending and figure out what’s going on. All to defeat a generic badguy. While it says that the events take place between book two and three, you can barely tell that it did. Even worse, she essentially recovers her bending powers by remembering how she used them in the first place. It’s an extremely weak payoff that begs the question why she couldn’t just remember how to bend all of them at the same time if she could suddenly remember how she did them.
Of course she wins the day after fighting a boss that is so bullet spongy the bosses from Borderlands II feel ashamed. Leading to a weak payoff and the aforementioned lack of impact on the universe and character of Korra. The story most definitely took a back seat to the combat but even the combat system has some problems.
Combat is pretty straightforward. Korra has light and heavy attacks that can be comboed for devastating moves. She also has dodging and a counter attack that requires precision timing to pull off. After Korra relearns how to control the elements, she’ll have four different ways of fighting but they all lead to the same result. Water and fire play and feel generally the same though I suppose fire feels like it does more damage. It’s kind of hard to tell if it actually does. Earth bending on the other hand is slower and supposed to do more damage. More often than not though, you’ll end up getting hit by the fast moving enemies or projectiles before able to use any of it. Air bending on the other hand gave me the impression that it’s potentially overpowered. It might be doing less damage (there’s no real easy way to tell in-game) but its wide area-of-effect in every attack makes it strong. Especially in the later stages of the game as there’s vast swarms of enemies trying to attack Korra. Plus, airbending allows her able to float in the air which lets her to avoid most attacks.
While the combat system is certainly competent, it’s repetitive as hell. With its small pool of enemies, many of which have stunning abilities that require QTEs to get out, it can get far too old to beat the same people or benders over and over again. The QTEs are especially annoying and not enjoyable to repeat. It doesn’t help that the camera is often in the way and unhelpful, with enemies attacking off-screen all of the time. Worse, there’s only one moment when I felt as powerful as the Avatar from the show and that’s towards the end of the game. By the time I got there though I was so worn down that it felt lame and half-hearted. Especially since the Avatar state only lasts a short time, far too short a time.
There’s mini-games interspersed to break up the monotony of the combat. One is an “endless runner” section that you might have played on mobile devices. However, its controls aren’t the most responsive and the entire experience is just so boring. The other mini-game is the pro-bending games which feel authentic to the show, but you generally win by spamming attacks at the enemies and hoping your AI partners aren’t completely idiotic enough to get knocked out early on. Both have the feeling of being tacked on or not thought out that well.
The menu options are incredibly limited for Legend of Korra, probably owed to its console roots. The choices you have are: Brightness, Resolutions (restricted to a maximum of 1920x1080p), fullscreen on/off and graphic quality. Graphic quality switches between smooth and normal, which I’m assuming smooth is for people trying to run this on a toaster because it’s not a demanding game. That’s mostly due to a sheer lack of detail to be found compared to other AAA title. So, in that sense a limited graphics menu is due to the fact that there’s really nothing to control. Still, there’s a lot missing here including V-Sync, Field of View, keyboard or controller remapping capability and more. Additionally, there’s no mouse support for the menus. There are audio sliders for music, SFX + Dialogue and “Movie”. So at least they give you that much control. Other than that, it’s a cheap port. At least it runs at 60FPS.
LoK has a cel-shaded graphic style that is very close to the show’s original animated look though it often feels watered down. Music is largely copied from the show as well and is fine I suppose.
Legend of Korra is a decent TV-tie-in game, at the best of times. However, it’s ultimately mediocre and inconsequential on too many levels to be worth playing. It’s not worth buying if you’re a fan of the show, fan of the developers or even of this genre. The combat system is competent but it suffers from repetition, a small pool of enemies and that spark to set it apart from the crowd. The story doesn’t hold up at all, which is perhaps the worst sin it could commit considering how much the show depends upon that. Look, PlatinumGames was a pretty good choice of developer for this game. They’ve got the capability to make a good fighting title and they’ve done so multiple times in the past. However, it’s clear that either their budget or hearts wasn’t in it. The results of which is this mediocre game that could’ve been so much more. It’s far from the worse but there’s nothing redeeming about it that hasn’t been done better elsewhere.
Thanks for reading!