The cinematic version of Avatar may well have collapsed under the weight of its own colossal hype machine if it weren’t for the fact it comes from the man that bought us Terminator, Aliens and Titanic (don’t laugh, it cleaned up at the Oscar’s). This man deserves our trust.
The video game has no such weight of expectation, with your average game-to-film adaptation serving as little more than a device to separate film fans from the contents of their wallet. We caught up with Avatar: The Game’s lead script writer Kevin Shortt to learn how it will defy all expectations.
Set for release only scant weeks before the film, James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game (JCA: TG from here on) is set two years before the events of the movie and Shortt assures us there won’t be any spoilers. Expanding on the same conflict between the recklessly explorative humans and the three meter tall blue-skinned environmentalist warriors, the Na’vi, JCA: TG is set on the Na’vi home planet of Pandora. You take the role of Abel Ryder, a signal specialist for the RDA (Resource Development Administration), a human-run mega-corporation concerned with farming the universe’s resources.
Your role as signal specialist is to track down the source of an unknown signal believed to be a sacred site of the Na’vi people. The Na’vi are wise to your intrusive human ways and have set about finding the sacred site too, prompting a race to uncover the secret that may tip the balance of the war in favour of its finder.
Shortt is keen to emphasise Cameron’s willingness to create a fully-functioning narrative that will compliment the movie: “He didn’t want to recreate the events of the movie in a game”. Instead the game is designed to expand the universe and explore the world of Pandora and its indigenous life-forms from another perspective. This was achieved by Cameron’s decision to commission Ubisoft with the game at the earliest possible stage. “Work began on the game three years ago when we were granted unprecedented asset access, including the full script,” says Shortt. “We have wanted for nothing”.