The Legend of Korra Game Review: Bend Me, Break Me
The Legend of Korra game has high standards to live up to. The Korra TV series consistently delivers high-energy action combined with genuinely emotive stories and characters. The Last Airbender boasted similar credentials, but its game spinoffs left a lot to be desired. Given the fantastic TV universe’s torrid history with video games, it’s no surprise that The Legend of Korra game, developed by Platinum, is a disappointment.
The Legend of Korra (from here on, this term means the game specifically—if I make a reference to the TV show, it will be marked as such) starts off with a hopeful recreation of the TV show’s opening sequence and quick musical riff. It begs the player to latch onto it like fans do with the show, but sadly, this faithful reenactment is just about the last thing The Legend of Korra does right.
Mako and Bolin open the game with Korra between them in a professional bending arena. Instead of using them as a part of some tutorial, they are quickly sent soaring out of bounds and into the water. From that point on, the only main character from the show that even briefly interacts with Korra is Jinora, who acts as a spiritual guide. Iroh appears as a shop owner, but his lines are minimal. As far as respect for the source material goes, The Legend of Korra falls seriously short. Other than the previously mentioned and Naga, literally nobody from the TV series plays even the smallest part in the game.
As one might expect, the story doesn’t get any better after Mako and Bolin’s departure. Korra is placed at odds with a spiritual entity named Hundun, who remains shrouded in mystery until the very end of the game. Instead of exploring his character even a little, the game throws interchangeable enemies at you that all feel the exact same. None of them is even remotely interesting and their attack patterns are predictable. Even when a bigger enemy like a mech or a bender enters the fray, it still feels uninspired. When Hundun finally does battle with Korra, it’s just another beat-em-up session. The difficulty is there, though. I played on easy and actually died quite a bit. If nothing else, The Legend of Korra will give you a challenge.
Visually, the game is one or two steps below the show. The animation both in-game and in cutscenes is stiff and stunted; it feels like the annoying little brother of the TV show. Korra explores Republic City, Air Temple Island, the South Pole, and the Spirit World, but none of them is even close to intriguing. For such a uniquely imagined universe, the bland level design is a gigantic letdown.
The gameplay of Korra isn’t disgustingly bad, but it feels entirely generic. It’s a mediocre combat/action game with a Korra skin slapped on it. Only two buttons are mapped to fighting (a heavy attack and a light attack) while one is jump and another is a finishing move. The four elements are different enough to be compelling for a level or two, but by the end they all feel interchangeable. Air and water are best for ranged combat, while earth and fire a made for close-quarters. For what it’s worth, I used water for approximately 90% of my playthrough.
A few levels end in an infinite running minigame where Korra navigates through an area on top of her polar bear-dog, Naga. It’s pretty much a Temple Run clone with a few twists thrown in (you can use bending to your advantage while avoiding obstacles). These sections are a refreshing break from the more boring Korra levels.
This foray into the Avatar universe is bite-sized at best, taking only a few hours to complete eight levels. The pro-bending mode, unlocked after completing the story, does nothing to expand play time—it’s just as dry as its campaign counterpart.
The Legend of Korra is a prime example of a crappy licensed game. The source material is under-respected and underutilized. The story and combat all feels tragically generic, and the entire experience just feels mundane. I can’t even recommend this game to hardcore Legend of Korra fans.