Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora

Tiers of the Kingdom

Tiers of the Kingdom

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08/12/2023 toolmxh.com


Review game Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, Tiers of the Kingdom

Levels of the Monarchy.

Unless you manage to grow a Na’vi neural braid and insert it straight into James Cameron’s skull, your only real choice for exploring the breathtaking alien moon of Pandora virtually is through Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. Explore an astoundingly vast portion of the fantastic fictional universe in this open-world shooter, which offers breathtakingly dense forest regions, scenic open plains, and suitably intimidating mountain ranges both on land and suspended impossibly in the skies above. A disappointing amount of bloat, including copy-pasted enemy outposts and facilities, hides behind all that beauty, making deviating from the main plot path less rewarding than it has been in more recent, seminal adventures like Elden Ring or the last two Legend of Zeldas games. The twenty-five hours I spent trying to repel a human invasion that was resource-hungry were still mostly enjoyable, but I wish the environment itself had given me stronger reasons to fight for it than just its obvious beauty.

In that sense, Frontiers of Pandora stays faithful to its box office record-breaking inspiration. I have to admit that the technical aspects of the two Avatar movies have impressed me far more than the stories in them. Fortunately, there isn’t a single mention of the word “unobtainium” in Frontiers of Pandora—at least not that I can recall—and the entire adventure takes place on a brand-new Western Frontier continent that is distinct from the area where Jake Sully and his family have experienced two parts of an ostensibly five-movie story arc.

Its overall plot, however, stays fairly close to the tried-and-true formula for television series. With its countless mining facilities, humanity’s colonizing Resource Development Administration, or RDA, is a repressive force in the Western Frontier. As an anonymous Na’vi raised in captivity, it is our responsibility to bring the three isolated Na’vi clans in the area together and take a stance against invaders who are determined to destroy the natural habitat even more than Sam Worthington has destroyed the American accent.

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I can’t say that I ever really connected with any one character in Frontiers of Pandora, but overall, I was happy to assume the Kevin Durant-sized shoes of the eco-warrior leading the uprising, and there were some really poignant moments along the way that added some real weight to the conflict. I never really cared about the individual struggles of the many Na’vi clan members I encountered during the trip, in large part because their names sound exotic and are virtually identical to one another, making it difficult for me to remember them in my middle age. I can hardly be trusted to distinguish between one character named Etuwa and another named Eetu—I can’t even remember the names of my kids’ closest friends. Star Wars features many diverse races and a fair share of ridiculous names. In my opinion, it’s easier to assign a name to a face when one of the faces is green and the other has three eyes.

The closest thing I got to a traditional boss was at the very end, and when I shot a rocket into a gas canister, it exploded all around them, killing them instantly.
Moreover, for the majority of the campaign, General Angela Harding, the head of the military force of RDA bad guy businessman John Mercer, and her are hardly noticeable as the Frontiers of Pandora’s two primary adversaries. Instead, they mostly interact with you through sporadic video chats, as if there’s a COVID-19 pandemic among cat people, and they can’t help but make fun of you over Zoom calls. I was a little disappointed as the credits rolled because neither of them is ever truly physically confronted, and as the story comes to an end, their fates are essentially left open. There are surprisingly few boss fights in Frontiers of Pandora, which may not have been so bad if there had been other powerful monsters for me to concentrate on. The closest thing I had to a traditional boss was at the very end, and when I shot a rocket into a gas canister, it triggered a series of explosions surrounding them, and they perished instantly. That was a rather silly way to add some fun to a story that was mostly serious otherwise.

Dancing with the Viperwolves
But the Western Frontier is a truly amazing place. Frontiers of Pandora offers some truly amazing settings to discover, and because of your Na’vi character’s superhuman agility, exploring them quickly is a true pleasure. With charged-up lunges, you can sprint, slide, and soar through the air thanks to a responsive set of controls, and there are many available environmental aids to further improve your mobility. Specifically, you can travel great distances on large leaves, and you can quickly reach the forest canopy on hanging vines. Whipping through hollowed-out logs and along the tops of long, twisting branches is an amazing experience. You can also huff special plant spores that temporarily increase your momentum and turn you into a blue blur that almost makes Sonic the Hedgehog jealously green.

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With flowers that shyly retract into their stems as you walk by and pods that spit their seeds when you approach as though you’ve just surprised them with an especially funny joke, Frontiers of Pandora’s world undoubtedly feels alive as well. As a result of this dynamic ecosystem’s abundance of life, there is naturally a lot that can be killed and harvested in order to gather the materials needed to make stat-boosting meals and modify your Na’vi clothes and weapons. I like how the tactile method of harvesting flora involves using the left thumbstick to swivel it to the point of least resistance and the right trigger to tighten your grip. This is a novel approach to picking fruit instead of locks, and it always feels good when a piece of fresh produce unexpectedly falls off the vine.

Though I didn’t delve too far into the hunting aspect of Frontiers of Pandora, I mostly stuck to killing creatures for self-defense, such as the vicious packs of viperwolves that frequently interrupted my early-morning jogs through the jungle. However, a quick glance at the Hunter’s Guide in the pause menu shows a long list of possible targets to find. While I don’t personally enjoy killing space cows, I can at least appreciate the careful planning that went into creating Frontiers of Pandora’s ecosystem. Similar to how, with a clean kill with one arrow, you can salvage the best meat for cooking, if you use a machine gun, the meat will get ruined beyond recognition. Similar to this, certain fruits work best when picked during particular times, like during the day or during a downpour, for cooking.

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Even though Frontiers of Pandora appears stunning up close, it may look even better from above when viewed from the top of an Ikran. After I formed a bond with my flying companion, which happened about five hours into the story, I pretty much only flew whenever I had the chance. It’s true that flying an Ikran doesn’t quite have the same thrilling sense of speed as it does in the movies, but they’re still incredibly helpful for taking out smaller RDA installations from above. It also can’t be stressed enough how thrilling it is to jump off a cliff and fall toward the ground, only to have your devoted Ikran land on your back, catch you, and take you to safety.

The cinematography in Frontiers of Pandora is generally good, but it doesn’t really change all that much throughout the narrative. It’s helpful that you can use your Na’vi sense to locate mechs’ weak points and possibly eliminate them with a single, well-aimed shot, and it’s also useful to be able to make special ammunition for the shotgun, such as electric-shock rounds. Though you can use your computer hacking tool to disable gun turrets and mechs, you can’t seem to ever use it to turn those machines against each other, so it never feels quite as freeform as the best of the Far Cry series. For example, as far as I can tell, you can’t ever use bait to lure wildlife into an enemy camp in order to cause a deadly distraction. Considering the relatively small number of enemy types present throughout, I didn’t feel like I was ever required to significantly modify my strategy for every combat encounter.

Fresh Appearance Navigation
Many of Ubisoft’s open-world games have historically suffered from HUD clutter, and it wasn’t until recently that I started having trouble seeing the desert surroundings of Baghdad in Assassin’s Creed Mirage beyond the plethora of annoying icons that dot the landscape when the game is in guided mode. To its credit, Frontiers of Pandora has reorganized its presentation in a Marie Kondo-style manner, and while it took me some time to get used to not having my hand held as much, I eventually thought it was a positive change.

The main method of navigating the world is by using your Na’vi sense, which briefly highlights interactive objects nearby and the general direction of the target you are currently tracking. However, as soon as you release the Na’vi sense button, these highlights disappear from view, and you are left with an unhindered view of the environment. I did occasionally regret not having a minimap, as I did once when I was lost and had to circle one of the larger Na’vi camps in an attempt to find a weapons trader, but overall, I liked that Frontiers of Pandora’s navigation let me explore the world on my own instead of just following a more rigidly marked path.

The more I traveled through the Frontiers of Pandora, the more RDA mining facilities I came across; each required comparable, if not identical, techniques to be sabotaged by crank-turning and exhaust vent-shooting. I only wish there were better rewards for going off the beaten path. Although it’s impressive to see previously polluted areas reclaimed by nature, the main story missions and optional RDA installations require you to repeatedly engage in sabotage like a blue-skinned Beastie Boy. However, by the end, it all starts to feel a bit similar. Although Frontiers of Pandora shares a strong environmental message with James Cameron’s films, this isn’t exactly the recycling I had in mind.

You repeatedly engage in sabotage like a blue-skinned Beastie Boy in both the main story missions and optional RDA installations.
I rarely came across really emergent gameplay surprises elsewhere; instead, I was usually met with vast stretches of empty space. I once spent thirty minutes exploring a group of floating islands in the sky, and all I took with me was a handful of sky moss and a piece of fruit. That’s a very long way to travel in order to gather ingredients for a smoothie that sounds especially horrible, and I don’t remember ever coming away from one of Hyrule’s sky islands with so little.

While there are many sidequests to locate and finish, they don’t always provide the same sense of wonder or exploration as the more consistently enjoyable detours found in Elden Ring or The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, even with the added benefits of extra resources and skill points. Despite how amazing everything seems at first glance, Frontiers of Pandora falls short of the recently elevated bar for open-world excellence. To be fair, it’s a huge map that I haven’t yet fully explored, but based on the law of averages, I should have discovered at least some of the really amazing stuff by now if it existed.

There are a ton of enemy bases to take out, side missions for the Na’vi clan to finish, a beautiful alien world to explore with a refreshingly simple navigation system, and an abundance of unusual plants and animals to hunt and gather in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. However, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is a good shooting adventure that is more inside the box than truly out of this world due to its fairly one-dimensional combat, somewhat repetitive mission design, and generally lacking any major surprises outside of visual splendor.

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