[UPDATE: We’ve Got a Sweet Pic of one of Avatar‘s “Heavy Loader” Powersuits!]

James Cameron recently made an appearance at game developer Ubisoft’s E3 press conference, where he talked about his upcoming sci-fi blockbuster Avatar and the video game which is being developed right alongside the movie.

The relationship between the Avatar movie and the game seems to be closer than it normally is. In a lot of cases, a game based on a movie is rushed out the door simply to have it on the shelves in time for the movie’s release. However, the Avatar game seems to not only have a heck of a lot of effort put into it – it seems like an extension of the movie.

A lot was said by Cameron at the E3 press conference, but here are just a few things that were revealed about both the Avatar movie and game:

  • Ubisoft acquired a graphic design company named Hybride, which is creating over 100 of the CGI shots for the film.
  • Cameron said that the film takes place in the 22nd century, on a large Earth-like moon called Pandora, with rain forests, 1000-foot tall trees, and many different types of critters. He described the Na’vi aliens as 10 feet tall and striped like tigers.
  • Weta provided Ubisoft with all the assets , models, and animations used in the movie. Cameron says that the game will have its own creatures, weapons and settings, some of which was designed by Ubisoft, and some of which were created specifically for the game by Weta. Cameron says that he even incorporated assets that Ubisoft created for the game into the movie because he liked the designs so much.
  • The game tells a story that parallels the film, so you could play the whole game without spoiling the movie.
  • Ubisoft has been working on the game for over two and a half years.

In addition to the above points, Cameron also mentioned that in his experience, most video games based on movies suck, and like the revolutionary CGI technology employed for the Avatar movie, he hopes to “revolutionize” the movie-to-video-game adaptation process.

Thanks to G4 TV, we have the full 14-minute video of the E3 press conference where Cameron spoke. For a more extensive point-by-point list of Avatar features, you can head on over to Slash Film. If you’d like to see the actual video of Cameron’s presentation, look no further:

For those of you interested in the Avatar video game, Ubisoft has posted some screenshots to give us more of a feel for how the game will look. Check some out of them out (click for larger images):

I really hope Cameron can change the way video games based on movies are made. The games for Spider-Man 2 and the recent Wolverine both spring to my mind as examples of ones that seemed to be rushed for the sake of getting them out there in time for the movie, with quality of gameplay and graphics ultimately suffering.

On the other hand, I can’t help but feel (just a little bit) that Cameron should be focusing the majority of his time and energy on the actual Avatar movie, simply because that’s the primary project, the game being secondary. After all, the game wouldn’t exist in any way without the movie, now would it?

Not since The Dark Knight has there been such hype built up around an upcoming movie (although Avatar doesn’t have quite the mass of fans chomping at the bit like TDK had). Actors and other filmmakers have been praising Avatar to high heaven. I don’t know for sure if the movie can live up to that hype, but it’ll certainly be interesting to see if it  does.

UPDATE: As promised, here is a look at the “Heavy Loader” Powersuit, which the human troopers use to explore the alien planet of Pandora.

Heavy Loader Powersuit (click for larger version)

What do you think of the latest info about James Cameron’s Avatar? Do you think the Avatar game will be one of the few to be high quality?

Avatar is scheduled to be released on December 18, 2009. The Avatar video game is supposed to be released in early December.

Sources: /Film, G4 and Ubisoft