Avatar Hands-on: Far Cry 2's Dunia engine delivers good graphics - Update: Wii screenshots
Ubisoft demonstrated Avatar: The Game at the Gamescom. PC Games Hardware was able to lay the game for a while and got some information about the technological background.
The development of James Cameron's Avatar: The Game has started three years ago said Patrick Maud, Producer at Ubisoft Montreal. More than 100 people are working to finish the game and the release is planned near the launch of the cinema movie.
Avatar: Dunia Engine in action
Avatar is based on heavily modified Dunia Engine, which had originally been developed for the first person shooter Far Cry 2. In Avatar you will see your character or vehicles you are using from a third person point of view, because of what the engine had to be modified. The landscapes, the time of day cycle and the firefights are very impressive. At day time the jungle missions we could already play, appeared a little colorful. Flora and Fauna of the planet Pandora are also quite colorful and thus they don't necessarily create a Crysis like jungle atmosphere. Nevertheless the light effects are worth seeing, bushes and trees swing with the wind and particle effects increase the realism. The shadows are a little hard - this effect had been emphasized by the missing Anti aliasing on the Xbox 360 that has been used for the presentation. In some situations the game was lagging a little though.
The night time missions were especially impressive, since plants were glowing in different colors and footprints have an afterglow. Another feature: If you get hit too often, the critical situation is emphasized by a graining effect like it is know from cinema movies. If you are running through water it splashes realistically and if you make a jump this motion is enhanced with a Motion Blur effect. Explosions are also visualized impressively.
Avatar: The weapons
In avatar you can either play as a soldier or as a native. As a soldier you have access to common weapons like machine guns, grenade launchers or flamethrowers. The Third Person camera is positioned slightly on the right side of the character and the crosshair is controlled separately. The muzzle flash effects remember of Halo on first sight. It was also possible to use helicopters and quads - here the camera position also worked quite well. You can even use big robots, but this scene has been extremely complex to calculate because of the bigger viewing angle and therefore a bigger amount of polygons. If you play as a Na'vi the weapons are a little bit more archaic. You can use bows, clubs, blades or even some kind of spells. Additional skills like invisibility offer more possibilities to the player.
It has not been revealed if the PC version of Avatar will have a DirectX 10 mode. It would suggest itself because Far Cry 2 already offered support for DX9 and DX10.
Update: September 8, 2009
Ubisoft has released new screenshots of Avatar. The new pictures show the Wii version of the game. You can find them at the beginning of our picture gallery.