PC REVIEW: ADVENT RISING

Advent Rising is one of these games that just can't seem to get it all together. Despite excellent production values and a compelling sci-fi story there are some less-than-perfect gameplay flaws that mar what could have been one of the best games of the year.

Advent Rising tells the futuristic tale of Gideon Payne, an altruistic hero and rookie pilot that attempts to save all humans from an evil alien race. The Seekers are hell bent on destroying the humans that colonized the galaxy while another benevolent race revere the humans to be fantastical creatures with extraordinary gifts. In Gideon's case this turns out to be true as he is imbued with superhuman powers such as levitation, energy blasts and energy shields.

An action-based shooter, Advent Rising incorporates elements of role-playing in that you unlock new skills, powers and weapons and increase your ability to utilize them in different situations. This game has already been released on the Xbox where the control system attempts to replicate the keyboard and mouse combo of the PC. Now that it's been released on the PC these features are somewhat redundant. Some of the technical problems that plagued the Xbox version have been addressed such as the chugging framerate which is as smooth as glass on the PC but there are other problems that keep this game from reaching the top of the heap.

This isn't your typical shooter. It's marinated in a good story, good graphics, great effects and an excellent soundtrack produced by two Emmy award winners. The story was written by Orson Scott Card who was responsible for Halo as well as other sci-fi publications. Playing the game on the PC it seems to have more console elements to it. It's reminiscent of a console to PC port such as Max Payne. Not only do the main characters share the same last name they also use a dodge move that slows down time. It's called bullet time in case you just fell off of the turnip wagon.

The pace is a little slower than your average shooter but that's because of the all-encompassing storyline. It justifies situations in the game. There are lots of interesting plot twists and turns. It's like a great comic book come to life. It's just too bad there are some control issues. Some of the weapons are slow such as the plasma and rockets. Character models are irregularly elongated and have a spongy bounce to their movements which doesn't feel very solid. There are also instances where characters get stuck in the environment.

The Xbox version featured a move called Flick Targeting which was an auto-lock targeting system that allowed you to use your other hand to access different button configurations. Since you can do this with the keyboard and mouse the Flick Targeting is only useful for changing the lock-on from left to right when you use the mouse wheel. At least the lock-on is still a good feature, not that you really need it with the mouse since accuracy is improved significantly with its use.

The voiceacting and soundtrack are second to none. The music doesn't just mimic the action it actually foreshadows events in true Hollywood fashion. There is some cornball dialog that seems like it came from an anime production but thankfully those moments are few and far between. The explosions are impressive from both a visual and audio standpoint. They almost set a new standard, which is good considering that some of the graphics are rather boring, especially some of the overused textures.

Advent Rising is a good game, it's short but it's good. There are some flaws that you need to overlook but there's nothing here that will ruin the entire experience. The lack of a co-op or multi-player modes reduces the replay value but you can go back and experiment with different combinations of powers.

Preview by Chris

Advent Rising is getting some attention. Perhaps it's due to the cinematic style, the game will tell the story while playing. It could also be the Sci-fi story line or the fact that the script is being written by famed author Orson Scott Card. Also the fact they have announced the game will be a trilogy could explain why some are looking at this one so closely and rightfully so.

Bringing out a new game with a great story is one thing but to say before the first one is ever released that there will be two more games to follow this one may be a little risky. The game is currently in the early stages and being made for the Xbox and the PC. A Playable demo was recently shown off and even in its very early state the game has some impressive graphics and weapons. The game will use the same graphics engine as the newest Unreal game. This may explain why the game in its early state can show off some very detailed characters and weapons.

The story line is right out of any sci-fi novel. Alien races have learned after years of exploration that they are somehow connected by a legend of a mystical race of superbeings that will one-day return and unite all the races together. The legend states that the mystical race is simply referred to as humans. Man, like we don't have enough hassles as it is already? Gamers will play as the human Gideon Wyeth who is the first human to come into contact of the alien races and learns of this legend. While the list of all the features and storylines has not been released yet, the game will force the player to make decisions. For example, early in the game you will need to make a choice of saving your brother or the girl you're going to marry. Of course every choice will change the storyline and course of the game. It sounds cool and the game will also feature a way to read you're saved file when the next game is released and will be different based on the choices and the paths you made in the first game.

Advent Rising will also feature smooth controls for the Xbox. The right trigger is used to operate one weapon and the left operates another. A lock-on feature will also be used for battles and to locate new weapons. Once again all the weapons and details of different levels will be unveiled at E3 this year in May. Even though the game is still in the early stages, the screenshots show off some great visual effects and details. Those who had the chance to play an early demo all reported the game looks great and the controls were smooth. The game will offer a fast game play style and looks interesting. Take a look at the screen shots and see for yourself what is causing this one the early attention. It's way too early to tell but if the game is as polished as they say it will be, the possibility of the trilogy being released is a good one. Of course this is another one we will be watching closely at when E3 rolls around and we will be updating the preview then when all the current details are given.

Story:

Featuring an unprecedented collaboration between interactive entertainment and science fiction writing, famed novelist, Orson Scott Card, embellishes on the gripping storyline behind Advent Rising, and will author a novel based on the game.

In Advent Rising, a common legend pervades the galaxy - that of a powerful, ancient race that will one day unite the universe. Millions of cultures from vastly distant worlds revere and hallow these mythological beings known as humans. One race, the Seekers, know humans actually exist and are threatened by their potential power. Under the guise of benevolent explorers, the Seekers travel throughout the galaxy in a desperate attempt to eradicate any human society they unearth.

Players assume the role of Gideon Wyeth, a remnant of the last human outpost, on the brink of discovering the incredible powers that lay dormant within him. It is these powers the Seekers are so desperate to suppress.

Features:

  • Single player gameplay presented in stunning cinematic format
  • Switch between first person and third person perspective
  • Built using next generation Unreal technology, integrated with the Karma physics engine
  • Develop amazing superhuman powers
  • Weild an arsenal of awesome weapons, all with unique secondary fire abilities
  • Command a vast array of incredible vehicles, including human and alien buggies, hover tanks and flying vehicles
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System: PC
Dev: GlyphX
Pub: Majesco
Release: Aug 2005
Players: 1
Review by Dean
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
5.0
VALUE
2.0