Advent Rising Review
The presentation is a technical nightmare, the story is poorly told, and the modicum of uniqueness the gameplay has to offer is almost completely murdered by sloppy mechanics and a myriad of bugs.
- A decent variety of special powers, which can all be upgraded
- Solid shooting mechanics
- Wonderful musical score.
- Lots of little bugs and general polish issues
- Terribly derivative story and art design
- Targeting system is more of a pain than it ought to be
- Music is badly edited.
There's nothing inherently wrong with ambition, but ambition is nothing without a solid framework to back it up. This is what is most notably missing from GlyphX Games' Advent Rising, a sci-fi themed action adventure game that seems to shoot high but falls hard. In development for a few years, Advent Rising tries to do an awful lot of things at once, attempting to combine a cinematic gameplay experience with an all-new sci-fi universe and some unique control and combat mechanics. Unfortunately, none of these elements comes together well at all. The presentation is a technical nightmare, the story is poorly told, and the modicum of uniqueness the gameplay has to offer is almost completely murdered by sloppy mechanics and a myriad of bugs.
In Advent Rising, you play as Giddeon Wyeth, a hotshot rookie space pilot who lives in a fairly prototypical futuristic scenario. Giddeon gets on with his hero-pilot older brother, has a loving fiancée, and generally lives an average life of the future...until a mysterious alien spaceship arrives at a nearby space station. Giddeon and his brother are naturally invited to the greeting party, along with a human ambassador. Thankfully, these aliens are friendly; unfortunately, they've come to warn the trio of another race, known as the seekers, that's coming to kill every human that breathes. Sure enough, it doesn't take long for the seekers to arrive, who then start blowing the human civilization to smithereens.
Any fan of even the most boilerplate sci-fi will immediately see all of Advent Rising's inspirations from a mile away, which is especially disappointing since its script was purportedly cowritten by noted sci-fi author Orson Scott Card. Thoroughly ripping off everything from Halo to Star Wars to even Titan A.E., Advent Rising's plot has little in the way of originality going for it, and it doesn't help matters that the story is told fairly shoddily along the way. Giddeon and his cohorts are rarely given much chance for character development, and in those instances when they do get to say something, they're given nothing of meaning to talk about, instead spouting cheesy one-liners that even George Lucas himself would be embarrassed to put to paper. The rest of the time, they're just running around, trying to avoid things that are blowing up around them. In fact, the vast majority of the cutscenes just involve a lot of overwrought battle sequences with lots of scenery exploding all over the place, impossible amounts of laser gunfire flying about, and no meaningful story development whatsoever. All this sort of comes to a rather unsatisfying conclusion, too.
In terms of gameplay, Advent Rising is a fairly run-of-the-mill third-person shooter. You're handed plenty of futuristic weaponry, including pistols, machine guns, laser rifles, rocket launchers, and other such. The basic shooting feels pretty good, especially since you can both dual-wield any combination of guns and pick up new weapons pretty much on the fly by standing over an unused gun and pressing either X or Y to assign it to a specific hand. The game also features an autotargeting system that immediately latches you onto nearby foes and lets you switch between them by tapping the right control stick in the direction of the desired opponent. This aspect of the targeting isn't half bad, and it does generally do what it's supposed to do without much duress.
However, there's one big fundamental flaw with the whole system: namely, its irritating tendency to latch onto targets as you're walking along. Essentially, as you move around, enemies and objects you can target will catch the attention of your reticle, so you'll immediately snap your focus to them. This is a big problem, mainly when you're trying to maneuver around a group of enemies to get to a health pack or a fresh ammo clip, as your speed is immediately reduced by about half when you're targeting something. You can click the right control stick to remove the reticle, but it will immediately snap to a new target the next time you get close to one.
When not using guns, Giddeon can eventually learn and then use a number of psychic powers that he gains because...well...he just kind of does. Seriously, the setup for Giddeon's special powers is pretty hacked together, but once he does gain these powers, combat becomes immensely easier. You'll be able to use everything from telekinesis to a sort of psychic push move that knocks anything around you back on its ass. These powers can be combined with your weapons to a certain degree, so you can, for instance, use telekinesis to pick up a bad guy. Then you can either toss him aside or start pumping him full of lead. Unfortunately, these powers, at least against the majority of enemies, do really tend to make things much too easy, as you can just fling them every which way and leave them hanging (for what feels like forever) while you just blast away. The one particularly cool thing the game does have to offer, with regard to combat, is its upgrade system, which automatically rewards you with power-ups for both your psychic powers and guns just for using them frequently. Sadly, few of the upgrades really feel that significant, but they're a nice touch, regardless.