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Preview | The Legend of Korra is an ass-kicking good time

by on June 27, 2014
 

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Fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender no doubt enjoyed the series on Nickelodeon a few years ago, and its spin-off, The Legend of Korra, has proved to be just as popular since its debut in 2012.

Fortunately for fans, it was only a matter of time before a game based off the series was developed and much to my amazement, it is developer Platinum Games, makers of such awesome games as Bayonetta 1/2, MadWorld, Metal Gear Rising Vengeance and The Wonderful 101, that has taken the reigns to The Legend of Korra.

The game is set between Books Two and Three of the TV series and follows Korra, who has been stripped of her bending abilities by a mysterious entity, on her quest to regain her powers.  In development for the PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, the game uses a colorful cel-shaded art style that works perfectly for the game, and players will be able to increase Korra’s powers as they progress through the game.

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During the first half of our demo last week in San Francisco, we were taken through an early area of the game, where we saw Korra engage in battles without any bending abilities, being forced to use her kung fu skills to fight off foes, and to counter both physical and projectile attacks. Even at such an early stage, Korra is an ass kicker and putting combinations together can fend off a series of enemies though there are a few who are a little tougher to deal with.  Shortly thereafter, we got to see Korra pick up the water bending ability, as she was then able to perform bending attacks to shoot blasts of water from above, from directly in front of her or from other directions.  I was happy to see how fluid the combat appeared to be, as the animations of enemies and Korra were smooth and at times made me feel like I was watching an episode of the show.  Positioning is also going to be an important part of the combat as you’ll want to be mindful of where you’re standing in conjunction with enemies, especially if you’e going to use counter attacks, or perform charge attacks, which are special, more powerful attacks that can cause massive amounts of damage, and generally hurt multiple foes.

In a later area of the game, producer Atsushi Kurooka showed us a battle against a handful of enemies who were attacking Korra while riding motorcycles. During the battle, Kurooka pulled off some well-timed counters and at one point performed a killer 49-hit combo on an enemy that made me laugh due to severity of the beatdown. I also managed to see the earth bending ability which was helpful during a battle against a giant mech.  Using earth bending skills, Korra used a charge attack that created a sort of landslide of massive rocks that took out a couple of surrounding enemies, while also stunning the mech.  What I liked the most however, was that Korra, as in the show, can switch between the various bending abilities on the fly to put together some wicked combos.  As such, earth bending attacks are slower but can deal a lot of damage, while fire bending is faster and better for close-ranged attacks.  Water bending is a bit more well-rounded but air bending is more versatile, as you can dash through attacks, bust out tornados and even ride an air ball for added mobility.  When Korra has all four bending abilities, she becomes an ass kicking machine.

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Once I managed to get some hands-on time with the game, I really enjoyed the overall fighting mechanism, as the game surely follows a sort of hack-and-slash approach, but the added depth of combinations, the mixture of bending abilities that can be used together and counter attacks, made for a rewarding experience.  I’ve been asked if the game plays a little like Bayonetta, and I’d say it does, which I’m happy about as someone who loves Bayonetta and is looking forward to part deux.

The game also features 3v3 battles in pro-bending matches, which is something found in the TV series as well. This Tournament Mode features challengers from the show with three difficulty levels, and while it appears this will only be playable offline, I’m hoping an online mode will make it in the game. Fortunately we’re only looking at an early alpha version of the game, so there is still more to come in terms of development.  I was also shown a sequence in the game, where Korra takes a ride on her polar bear dog Naga, in a mini-game portion that is essentially like an endless runner, where you’ll have to avoid obstacles while picking up loot along the way that can then be used to unlock new attacks and the like.

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Being published by Activision, the game is going to be released as a digital download, sometime in the fall, and from what I’ve seen so far, I’m excited about how much better the game can get after a few more months of development time.  It’ll be interesting to see how much depth can be added to the game in terms of the overall story but I’d say so far so good.

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