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Just a note, the game thinks I'm using an X-Box 360 control, so it might take me some time to learn things like combos & counters. I may or may not get an actual X-Box control, but either way, there won't be another huge hiatus, except maybe when finals roll around.
Time: ~1:40-3:20 PM
Introducing: Stage 4
For starters, most of the stuff I mentioned last time still applies. Exploring the city is still fun if you like the city--& come on, why wouldn't you? It's gorgeous. Today I was in I believe the downtown area, so I got to see some fancy skyscrapers, airships, & do some platforming on scaffolding. Oh, don't worry, we'll get to that. Now, granted, these aren't Studio Mir quality graphics (except for the cutscenes, which are actually made by Studio Mir, as if they were working on an episode of the show), but I still like the art style, & come on, you only paid $15 for this thing.
Of course, that also means that a lot of the same PROBLEMS still persist. There's still a lot of monotonous button-mashing to get Spirit Energy. There's still a lot of enemies that take FOREVER to bring down, & there are still a lot of problems with the targeting system. In fact, as if it weren't bad enough, I've noticed that some attacks (like the Equalist smoke bombs) actually interfere with targeting, which is AWESOME in a game where you have a GOOD targeting system, like Kingdom Hearts, but here, it's just frustrating.
Also, sometimes Korra does this dodge which disables her for a period of time. I'm not sure what triggers it & I DEFINITELY don't know what the point of having a dodge that makes you a sitting duck is. Another problem I have with the dodge system is that it will cancel attacks I've already launched, so I can't charge a big attack & then quickly jump out of the way, & yet often times I won't be able to dodge out of attacks I'm already performing when I see that something is gonna rearrange my face if I don't MOVE NOW!
I still don't understand why they keep your Bending disabled for so long, as this game was clearly designed so that you'd need different styles to handle different situations. Having only Waterbending was a real problem, I was way too limited in these fights, which are now against 3 different types of Chi Blockers & the occasional appearance by the Triple Threats. This wouldn't be AS bad if Waterbending had Healing like in the show. Yeah, the healing items make reference to things like Spirit Water, but I mean if you could actually stop & use your Bending to heal yourself.
I don't think this would have made the game too easy, because plenty of games have healing spells, & it would have made sense given the plot. As it is, if you don't have items, you rely mostly on random health-ups, which aside from being jarring to the suspension of disbelief, means you have to hope that the developers have properly predicted which parts you're going to have trouble with. There's a regeneration accessory that I plan to get as soon as I can afford it so that the inconsistent healing is no longer a problem.
One other problem I had with Waterbending is that I couldn't break a Waterbending barrier, & even now I have no idea why not. I spent several minutes hitting this thing, doing no visible damage to it, occasionally trying things I knew were wrong in the hopes that I'd get a hint, & even tried to find the answer online, before ultimately leaving in confusion, the treasure chest unclaimed.
But one thing we did have today was the first case of the game addressing one of my complaints. I was very frustrated at not being able to hit anything with the charged waterbending attack until I realized that the charge wasn't meant to be a single attack. Instead, it's sort of like a Kaio-Ken: It makes my attacks more powerful for a time, but presumably not to the degree of the Avatar State, which I guess ALSO got chi blocked, because it hasn't even been mentioned yet. However, it should be noted that if the tutorial was better, I would already know this.
We also got A FEW plot details here. Apparently, the Chi Blockers have taken control of the Spirit Wilds at this time, which was pretty nice continuity with Book 3 establishing that the Red Lotus could use the abandoned Spirit Wilds as a hideout. There's also some admittedly repetitive & campy banter establishing that they're targeting Korra for some kind of "greater good." I'll be honest, the Chi Blockers don't have the best voice acting.
Then I encountered the platforming sequences of this stage. To start with the good, there's a pretty humorous handwave about how the giant pits of death were caused by the battle with Vaatu & that Korra "really needs to get these potholes filled." XD It's a bit awkward, but with Korra's superhuman jumping skills, it shouldn't cause you too much trouble...at first.
But, before that, there's a boss fight & you get your Earthbending back, as long as you can perform 4 counterattacks when Jinora arbitrarily tells you to. There's really not much to say about this. It incorporates the "stand your ground" training from the show & serves as a tutorial on the counter system, which is frustrating at first, but once I had the hang of this thing, I was glad they took the time to teach me this incredibly useful skill, which made an impossible boss a piece of cake.
After this, you start climbing scaffolding on the buildings, but instead of the 3D platformer from before, this is now a 2D platformer. They were clearly going with "nostalgic change of pace," but it was just frustrating, & the only people I can think of enjoying this are really hardcore Nintendo era platformer fans. She couldn't seem to jump high enough, she'd abruptly fall off of platforms for no reason, the platforms weren't wide enough, & to top it all off, I had to fight enemies here. After about the dozenth time falling to my death trying to get the same chest while fighting a red Chi Blocker & his unblockable electric blast attack thing, I finally quit in frustration.
Summary: Pacing & targeting system still major problems. Game likes to switch up its gameplay, which scored big last time with the Naga Runner, but failed hard this time with awkward platforming sequences. Finally got Earthbending, learned the very well-designed counter system, & defeated a moderately entertaining boss. The continuity with the show is still good, as are the cutscenes & voice acting, with the small exception of the Chi Blockers.
Next Time: I'll either continue from where I left off on Stage 4 or go back to some previous stages to collect stuff I couldn't get before & do more Naga Runner. I haven't decided yet. Also, if anyone can tell me why my Waterbending isn't breaking that barrier, I'd really appreciate it.