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Score: 5.2 / 10
Developed GlyphX Games, Advent Rising is a
third-person sci-fi action game that really did shoot for the stars.
Unfortunately, it kind of smacked into a Mt. Fuji on the way there.
Advent Rising (AR) dreams big but trips a few too many times to be
considered among the elite of action titles.
You assume the role of Giddeon Wyeth in a far-flung future where
humanity makes first contact with an extraterrestrial life whose first
message is, “Duck and cover, you’re about to be wiped out by a marauding
species that has a real hate-on for humanity. You have two wee–” sound
of marauding species coming out of warp,
“two minutes to prepare.” So begins Wyeth’s
struggle to survive.
There’s a real sense of urgency as AR opens but all too quickly it’s
kicked in the shins by technical problems and glitches that distract
from the overall experience and will set you nerves on edge.
AR has a very quirky habit of freezing up at unpredictable intervals.
There doesn’t seem to
pattern to the freezing. Sometimes it’s during cutscenes, sometimes
mid-action. And because there’s no option to manually save your
progress, you just hope you don’t have to replay a chunk of the game you
just spent 30-minutes fighting through. More than a few times it froze
when the action got really intense, which is to say, choppy as hell. The
framerate just can’t stay consistent – even worse is that you’ll always
face more than just a lone enemy (with a few notable exceptions) so
fighting through the chop can be a bit of a chore.
To deal with his enemies, Wyeth has access to a huge variety of weapons,
all of which can be dual-wielded. Assigning and firing the weapons (with
the triggers) isn’t a problem but become one with the targeting system
can be a real challenge. AR uses a “flick” targeting system by way of
the right stick. Flicking it in the direction of an enemy will lock onto
(or whatever object can be targeted) so Wyeth can make each bullet
count. However, he doesn’t always target the enemy you want and at some
crucial moments (like escaping from a crumbling space ship) Wyeth will
lock-on to something when all you wanted to do was move the camera. This
issue led to my death a frustrating number of times. Toward the end of
the game I was much better at anticipating what enemy or object would be
targeted. (In all fairness, the sensitivity of the flick system can be
adjusted in the options menu but you’re likely to still encounter
Besides the weapons, drivable vehicles, and turrets, Wyeth gains access
to a plethora of special powers as the game progresses that quickly
replace guns as his main form of attack. Not to give them all away,
Wyeth can produce force fields, toss enemies around with a “lift” power
or knock back a group of enemies with “surge.” Because the effectiveness
of each power increases as Wyeth uses them – this extends to
hand-to-hand combat and guns as well – he becomes nearly unstoppable.
The animations and effects ties to each power are neat to watch and they
actually do a lot to convey a real sense of power. The flip side is that
Wyeth becomes almost too powerful, making most encounters pretty easy
once he starts increasing his prowess with each ability.
The list of problems with AR is truly disheartening because without them
AR would rank up there with the elite action games. I’ve already
mentioned the choppiness, the lock-ups and crashes, and the
hard-to-master targeting system but AR also gets marks off for
consistent sound problems and some really distracting “clipping”
problems. At random the music will pop in and out at varying volumes and
the sound effects will do the same (although less frequently). The voice
acting is good for the most part although some of the dialogue is hokey
at the worst of times. I’m also pretty sure there were uncredited
Hollywood actors involved – I’m positive one was Leslie Nielsen of Naked
Gun and Forbidden Planet fame – but the manual doesn’t list them.
AR has a graphical style all its own, each characters looking somewhat
elongated but it remains consistent throughout. Each area and
environment Wyeth fights through feels good even if some areas feel
AR is/was supposed to be the first part of a trilogy of games. While
it’s sci-fi foundation and story elements are good – Boilerplate? Give
me a break, GameSpot – the rest of Advent Rising feels too unfinished to
make it much more than a rental if you want to see it for yourself. If
GlyphX and Majesco proceed with a further two entries (a PSP chapter is
in the works) the whole thing has to be tightened up and fine tuned –
there’s a good game here but when you have to fight tooth and nail
through its problems to actually see it, there aren’t many that will
feel that AR is anything but a somewhat finished mess.