Review: Advent has fallen and can't get up.
Ambition is usually a good thing. It helps motivate you to do great things and wins excited support from your customers. Developer GlyphX was pretty ambitious about Advent Rising: they hired renowned sci-fi author Orson Scott Card to write the story; they promised cool special powers, weapons and acrobatic moves; and they touted a unique targeting system that would free your thumbs to focus solely on attacks. They promised us an epic story and thrilling gaming experience in this first chapter of a planned trilogy. Heck, they even promised to give one lucky gamer a million dollars in their heavily marketed ?Race to Save Humanity? contest.
Yup, ambition is great ? unless, of course, you are too
ambitious and set unrealistic goals and expectations that you can never meet. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to Advent Rising. Despite all of the big promises, the end result is a resoundingly average, wholly uninspired action adventure shooter that disappoints you because the developers never take advantage of the game's tremendous potential.
I see an Advent Rising?
The game has a very impressive beginning, from the sweeping cinematic cutscenes to the grand orchestral musical score, Advent Rising feels more like an interactive sci-fi movie than a video game ? at first, anyway. The game has a very stylized anime look to it, though the artists must have some sort of leg fetish because every being ? human and alien alike ? has long slender legs that take up a good two-thirds of their bodies (and you thought it was hard to touch your toes without bending your
You play in the third-person view (but can also toggle first-person) as Gideon Wyeth, the younger brother of a famous war hero on the small planet of Edumea. A huge alien ship has entered orbit above the planet and you are part of the diplomatic party assigned to greet them and open relations. The aliens are called Aurelians and hold humans in reverence because for some reason, humans are considered to be benevolent deities by other races throughout the galaxy and are worshipped as gods (but we are never told why). However, very few aliens have ever seen a human; in fact, they are supposed to be so rare that they are considered to be a myth rather than a real race. The Aurelians have been searching for humans for many thousands of years, but now that they have found them on Edumea, they come with bittersweet news: they would love to welcome humans into the Galactic Senate, but another race called the Seekers (who look a lot
like Halo's Elites, except they have two additional legs) covertly tracked their ship and are coming to wipe out the planet for another reason we are never told.
Needless to say, the action starts right away and doesn't let up. Gideon is a deadly fighting machine with some cool acrobatic moves, including a John Woo-like slow motion sideways dive with guns blazing. He can pick up and use any of the dozen weapons available in the game, most of which are immediately available right off the bat. He can also dual wield any weapon, including rocket launchers ? sweet! You can also level up weapon attributes the more you use them, which unlocks more damage and secondary fire modes. It's quite easy to level up; just keep shooting. Heck, I maxed out my assault rifle attributes on the training level.
Gideon will automatically aim at the nearest targets so you don't necessarily have to have them centered on your screen. If you are dual wielding and there are multiple enemies, he will fire in two different directions at once ? which looks really cool if you are also performing one of his acrobatic dives at the same time. If you want to concentrate all of your firepower on one enemy however, you can use the unique flick targeting system to lock onto a target, freeing your right thumb to work the face buttons for jumping, reloading and selecting alternate fire modes. To engage the target lock, all you have to do is flick the right thumbstick in the direction of the target. It's a neat idea that generally works well if there are a small number of enemies on the screen, but it becomes more of a nuisance than anything in the later levels (more on this later).
You can also use gun turrets and drive vehicles, including a Warthog-like jeep and a Seeker hovertank. The same flick targeting works in vehicles as it does on foot, so you can perform defensive maneuvers while still maintaining a target lock.
Eventually, you will stop using weapons when you learn to use your special powers. For yet another reason we are never told, humans have within them the ability to use supernatural powers expected of a deity. You have eight powers, including a powerful melee attack, Jedi-like lifting and Force push abilities, shooting energy balls from your hands, and a Sub-Zero-like freeze attack. As with your weapons, you can level up and unlock increased damage and secondary attacks the more you use your powers. You can also assign any weapon or power to each hand for a devastating one-two punch.
Sounds great so far, doesn't it? And it is ? at first. Unfortunately, the game's flaws and shortcomings quickly become apparent the more you play.