Bayonetta 2 isn’t the only Platinum Games joint that’s been released lately, there is another. Step forward The Legend of Korra, an adaptation of the Nickelodeon show that shows that even a developer as great as Platinum has their off days.
We’re not the biggest Korra fans, but we are huge fans of Platinum so were really looking forward to seeing what they do with the license. The results are mixed. There’s an interesting combat system here, but it’s buried so deep that it takes perseverance to unearth it.
For fans of Korra it does a good job in capturing the feel of the show with the art style, animated cut scenes (albeit brief ones) and voice acting, but it’s doubtful whether these fans will be too taken with the story. Korra finds her bending powers opposed by a “chi blocker” who wants to end the world or something to that effect. It’s not a deep story, but then Platinum games rarely are, but those get by with some purely spectacular set pieces. The Legend of Korra has none of that.
Simply being ferried along paths, fighting a lot of identical enemies across some lacklustre environments is the order of the day here. With the exception of the final boss there’s nothing truly awe-inspiring to watch. Of course playing this in quick succession with Bayonetta 2 doesn’t help. A harsh comparison maybe, as Bayonetta 2 is a full retail release and Korra is an £11.99 downloadable. But then when you set the bar as high as Platinum does, then expectation will be high however the game is distributed.
At the start of the game you have all your bending powers (fire, earth, water and air), as you take on an endless horde of enemies. It’s a nice taste of what’s to come as no sooner have you got to grips with the controls as all these powers are ripped away from you. It’s the old Metroid style of going through the levels and gaining what you lost. And each power does have its own strength and weaknesses. For instance, water bending is great at taking out targets from a distance, whereas earth unleashes the strongest attack and is only any use in close quarters. There’s also an interesting counter manoeuver, by pressing the trigger Korra is able to slow down time before pressing the corresponding button on screen to perform a devastating move. Critical when coming up against boss fights.
The bosses actually proving to be quite difficult. Having played on the Medium difficulty, it actually came as a surprise to find how challenging the game is for a licensed title. Items, which are purchased in the shop, became crucial at times, with even the lesser enemies proving to be just as dangerous. Platinum no doubt pride themselves on their intricate combat, so it’s clear this was the area that large portions of the development time was spent because everything else just feels so generic.
The worst part of The Legend of Korra though are the Naga sections. Riding your polar bear dog companion you’re travelling down a lane and need to avoid obstacles, dodging to the left, right or using your bending powers. They’re like sections from modern day Sonic games, only a million times worse. Luckily the checkpoints are well placed, so if you fail then you’re not sent too far back. It’s one of those things that you realise why they were added, in this case to add a little variety to the gameplay, but they are just so boring. Quite frankly we’d prefer to just continue punching people in the face.
The Legend of Korra is proof that everything Platinum touches doesn’t automatically turn to gold. An interesting combat system can’t contend with the utter mediocrity that is layered on top of it. Even Korra fans may find it difficult to get through the short playtime.