In a failed attempt to get The Cute Little Red-Headed Girlfriend interested in gaming, I purchased a copy of James Cameron's Avatar: The Game for XBOX 360.The Girlfriend had really liked the movie Avatar, so I thought perhaps the game could lure her into playing with me.
Before I laid down my cash, I went to look up the reviews of Avatar The Game at Metacritic. I found a mostly negative batch of professional reviews that called the game play mediocre. The customer reviews, however, were mostly positive. Players enjoyed moving through the world of Pandora enough that they didn't mind the repetitive game play. I decided to trust the players' opinions.
Once I started playing the game, my expectations were confirmed: the game play did suffer from bad camera angles but the landscape of Pandora was spectacular. As you progress through the game, different regions of the planet open to you, introducing new types of terrain, landscape features and plants. There's also a feature in the game called the Pandorapedia, an encyclopedia of knowledge concerning various aspects of the planet, including its flora and fauna.
According to an article called "Avatar's New Twist on Plants," I found online at Astrobiology Magazine, James Cameron consulted with a plant physiologist named Judy Holt to develop the scientific rationale behind the plant life on Pandora. Holt also gave scientific names to the plants and provided the descriptions that appear in the game's Pandorapedia.
I found reading the Pandorapedia on my television set difficult, due to the small font size that was used for the interface. Other gamers also mentioned the font size problem in their comments at Metacritic. But the Pandorapedia's content was quite interesting, and in the case of the plant life, the descriptions helped me determine how the plants could be used strategically during combat or in other situations. Several game missions revolve around interaction with plants, requiring the player to identify, sample or gather various specimens.
I enjoyed playing as a Na' vi warrior, ducking through bioluminescent landscapes and bounding around at treetop level within a maze of branches. Although the game rewards you for uncovering new terrain, spending a moment or two gazing quietly at the dramatic vistas found tucked away within each region is rewarding in a different way.