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Avatar: The Last Airbender - first look

Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the coolest cartoons on Nickelodeon these days. A far cry from the misshapen adventures of the Rugrats, it blends action and magic into a tasty blend of kick-ass Asian action. Just as a show like this can bridge the gap between kids and adults, the game THQ is cooking up brings the series' slick cartoon visuals together with the kind of action RPG gameplay mature gamers have come to love. Think X-Men Legends, and you're getting there.

Avatar's world is divided into four elements: earth, air, water, and fire. Revered citizens have the ability to "bend" their element of choice as powerful magicians. Those with the power of fire turn into aggressive villains, bent on world domination. The air-based crew is wiped off the face of the planet, while water and earth are hanging on by a thread.

Things look bleak until the Avatar of legend shows up to whip some flaming booties and save the land. Only problem is he's a pre-teen boy named Aang. Good for the self-worth of children everywhere; bad for people fighting for their lives. Aang's mission is to absorb the powers of all four elements and bring balance to the universe. That's a little more daunting than most boys' goals - like avoiding getting wedgied by a bully between classes. 



Like the TV show, Avatar: The Last Airbender the game features Asian-inspired anime visuals. Its cartoon graphics closely mimic the look of the show. The environments of the game's 12 stages show a lot of variety, assimilating the vibe from the local elemental inhabitants. Aang's journey begins in the South Pole, where he's found by a water tribe, and will go all the way to the firebenders' stronghold.

The camera is perched overhead, which complements Avatar's gameplay. The game is a mildly simplified version of typical action RPGs like Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance or Champions of Norrath. Use martial arts moves to dispatch easier foes, or break out the elemental trump cards when things get rough. You'll level up and unlock new powers through continued elimination of enemy forces.

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