The Legend of Korra Review

Platform: PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Released: October 21st, 2014
Developer: Platinum Games
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Beat ’em Up

Reviewer’s Note: I played this game on PlayStation 4. There may be differences between versions.

Platinum Games is a wonderful developer that has made many fans with high quality games like Bayonetta and Vanquish. The Legend of Korra is a great TV show that deals with big subject matters and has some of the best animated combat sequences. Activision has a lot of money to throw at projects. Combine the three and we should get a fantastic gaming experience for everyone to love, right? …Right?

Story

Taking place between the second and third season of the show, The Legend of Korra begins with Korra being kidnapped by a mysterious old man named Hundun. When she finds her bending powers blocked, and various factions like Chi-Blockers and Triads trying to kill her, she makes it her goal to find Hundun and get her powers back.

Watch out! She has... water!

Watch out! She has… water!

The problem is that the story is basically a big empty spot. Outside of a quick cameo from Mako and Bolin, Korra is basically the only character in the game. The story itself never advances beyond “fight Hundun eventually.” There’s nothing to it. In a TV show that has constantly shown to push boundaries and tell powerful stories about mature subjects in a way all ages can understand and appreciate, it’s a real shame to see The Legend of Korra just miss the point completely and be all about punching things.

Presentation

There’s noting really superbly wrong with the presentation, though there’s also not much noteworthy about it. The game has a nice cel-shaded style that looks good, and the cutscenes are animated in the style of the TV show and fit well. On the other hand, environments feel like large empty areas with occasional rocks thrown in and are totally forgettable. Enemy design isn’t much better, apparently at some point Hundun found the time to clone the same guy over and over again.

Gameplay

I feel like this should be doing far more damage than it is

I feel like this should be doing far more damage than it is

The Legend of Korra is your basic 3D beat ’em up game: square is used for light attacks, triangle for heavy, and the two can be combined for various combos. Korra can switch between her four elements at any time, and each one plays a little differently. Water focuses on ranged attacks, Earth is slow but strong, Fire has a chain of quick weak attacks, and Wind is good for taking on swarms of enemies. Each element’s attacks could also be charged for a little while to help empower the attacks, and stunning an enemy (something that I was never sure how to do, it appears to be random) would allow me to preform finishing attacks.

All of this is nice, but there’s not much in the way of enemies to use it on. I hope you enjoy the masked Chi-Blocker enemies, as you’ll be fighting them over and over and over. Occasionally I also had to fight the three Triad members again, whom were peppered in maybe once or twice a chapter. Late into the game I also got to see Spirit World enemies, who would require me to use Spirit Bending to finish them off, and this is really the most unique part of the game. Even the boss fights suffer from this problem: There’s only one kind of boss that I just had to keep refighting over and over. I also found combat to get frustrating after a while, as it seems the game isn’t interested in providing any kind of technical challenge but instead wants to just fill the screen with enemies that caught me in an endless stunlock.

 

Sometimes Korra will call her pet dog/bear/wolf thing Naga and the game will switch to that of an endless runner. Naga will run along a path and have to dodge, jump over, and duck under obstacles. Korra can also use her bending skills while riding Naga to extend her jumps or blow up obstacles in the way. It’s there, but it’s an ultimately boring diversion. There’s also a Pro-Bending Tournament minigame where Korra teams up with Bolin and Mako to try and knock opponents off a ledge. That’s a little more fun, but not much different from any other fight in the game. Defeating enemies and partaking in the minigames got me souls, which I could then spend in the store to buy talisman that would have passive effects on Korra, such as making her do double damage but cutting her health in half.

Conclusion

The Legend of Korra only took me about 4 hours to finish. In those 4 hours I was constantly disappointed over and over again. It has an absent story and repetitive and frustrating combat. The fact that I just watched one of the best developers churn out one of the worst games I’ve ever played is a real disappointment. Even die-hard fans of the show should stay far away.