Advent Rising
Game Info
Platform(s)
Xbox
Publisher
Majesco Entertainment
Developer
Glyphx
Genre
Action
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Blood, Mild Language, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Nice sci-fi theme
• Voice acting really sells a decent script
• Lots of gun and power-basd action

The Bad

• Graphics are inconsistent at best
• Framerate can give you whiplash
• Flick targeting conflicts with camera control

 
Grade
C+

There was obviously a lot of ambition placed behind Advent Rising. Publisher Majesco worked hard to promote the game, even going so far as to put the game trailer in theaters and attach a contest to the game. Even with all of that, the game stumbled under it's own ambition. Featuring a script co-written by famous author Orson Scott Card, the story, while not the most innovate piece of literature, proved to be interesting enough to keep the average gamer interested.

As many sci-fi stories go, Advent Rising starts off much like many others - with a brash, hot shot space pilot by the name of Gideon Wyeth. After some tutorial stages on a space station, Gideon acts as part of a envoy to meet with the first alien contact humanity has ever experienced. It's too bad that they bring bad news - that a violent race of aliens, known as the Seekers, is on their way to wipe humanity out. The alien assault happens almost instantly, forcing Gideon to fight for his life as he escapes from the space station and back to the planet that the station orbits. As you watch Gideon survive the impending destruction of humanity, you also come to learn why the aliens are so intent on their massacre.

The core gameplay is third person shooter but with some alterations. When not in combat, Gideon controls with a combination of the two analog sticks. You can switch to a first person view mode if so desired, but the game engine is obviously centered around the third person controls. Gideon can equip two guns at any time, shooting either with the Left and Right Triggers respectively. The A Button allows you to jump and the X Button serves as a dodge when pressed in combination with any direction on the Left Analog stick.

To autotarget enemies during combat, flick the Right Analog stick in the direction of your enemy. When locked on to that target, the camera will orient towards them and you can tell their health by the color of the target reticule. The game features a large variety of weapons, each of which proves to be good in certain situations. Gideon can also perform melee attacks with the B Button and throw grenades with the White Button. At a certain point in the game, you will earn special powers that augment your gunslinging. These powers range from the ability to pick up enemies and objects, to a powerful shockwave to a shield. These level up the more you use them, so be sure to spread it all around.

Along with the third person action, you also get multiple opportunities to drive a Scythe, an all-terrain jeep (not unlike something straight out of Halo), pilot a shuttle or mount an Antiaircraft turret. The controls for the shuttle and Scythe are a bit hard to manage and never feel as though they're tight enough.

Visually, Advent Rising has some interesting design choices, but the execution is just inconsistent. There are large areas that are certainly designed with a specific sci-fi theme in mind. It's just a shame that the levels feel underdetailed at times and even a bit repetitive. The textures range from good to bland and generally lack any of the sharpness found in other Xbox-specific games. There are times where the game looks like it's close to using some of the nicer effects possible on the consoles, but most of the time, it's just not even close. The character models are low-poly and feel like they were just ripped out of a Playstation game and polished off for this release. In fact, a lot of the game feels unpolished, as if was a last generation game beefed up for an Xbox release. This is only made worse by an inconsistent frame rate that bounces all over the place. Hell, there are times when the framerate in the cutscenes is sluggish.

The audio portion is noticeably better. Sound effects and the soundtrack are pretty solid, selling the sci-fi theme on all cylinders. The voice acting delivers the story well, featuring the talents of Will Friedle, Stefan Marks, Vanessa Marshall and Michael Bell. With the script being written by Orson Scott Card and Cameron Dayton, the voice acting sells the story well enough to keep players pushing on if they manage to find the gameplay tedious.

Along with what's been said already about the graphics and framerate, the execution of the Flick targeting proves to be a challenge as it also feels like it conflicts with the basic control scheme. Also, most of the game of just a pure shoot-fest, with little to no puzzle elements to break up the gameplay. If this sounds good to you, though, you will certainly get your fill of gunplay.

Advent Rising certainly could have used a lot more work. If you're a sci-fi themed shooter fan, you can find this one for a decent price. You have to be pretty forgiving as there's a lot here that could use some polish. Hopefully, the ambitious trilogy idea the makers obviously wanted gets to see at least one more title so that they can try and resolve some of this issues.

- - Vane

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