For years, Orson Scott Card has been revered as a sci-fi literary icon, recently known for his critically acclaimed "Ender" production. Now, he's been given the opportunity to break into a new and exciting frontier, thanks to GlyphX's brilliant video game proposal. Coincidentally, the company pitched the idea to Mr. Card during a book signing. Of course, by evidence of this review, he was impressed enough to collaborate on the project. Best of all, GlpyhX and Card have sweetened the deal by scripting the adventure of Advent Rising to unfold as an epic trilogy.
Card's story begins with the homecoming of war veteran named Gideon, selected as an honorary ambassador to make first contact with an alien race. This peaceful alien race revere humans as mythological creatures and bring warning of the Seekers' plan for invasion. Apparently Card played some Destroy All Humans, because the Seekers are determined to eradicate the human race and Gideon is face Gideon and the new discovery of latent telepathic power within humans to stop them.
With a premise of human extinction and special powers, you'd expect Advent Rising to deliver full-scale melees and cool abilities. Gideon is tossed into the fray of planetary battle with a wide range of weapons; both Seeker and human based, each offering a respective primary and secondary capability. Increasing your range of skills opens up the opportunity to unleash an impressive set of physic powers used to push, lift and expel the Seeker threat post-haste. What's especially impressive is the experience system embodies a very natural flow. In essence, the more you use a certain weapon or skill, the more powerful it becomes. With a intuitive combination of dual-handed weapons and skill combat features, Advent Rising certainly offers a unique set of mechanics players should find intriguing.
Gideon can make use of this multi-faceted arsenal via two main control configurations--third-person perspective and Flick Targeting. Given the chaotic nature of the game's battles, the developers made a wise decision incorporating a third-person camera. With so much onscreen action taking place at any given time, a first-person perspective would have left players confused and dead within minutes. Flick Targeting adds a significant focus to the third-person perspective by allowing players to lock onto any target with a mere "flick" of the right analog stick. This helps keeps the flow of the game fast and seamless allowing you to switch to one enemy to the next with a mere, quick glimpse.
Unfortunately, the occasional quirk arises with the camera and targeting system properly working in unison. Often when attempting to reposition the camera, Gideon ends up targeting an enemy instead. There's also an issue with locking on to a specific Seeker, particularly when they approach you in groups, leading to an awkward, frustrating practice of missed lock-on attempts. Aside from such quibbles, the action remains entertaining and remarkable. It's just that these issues are too apparent and difficult to ignore, diluting the experience to nothing more than an interactive movie.
But what sets Advent Rising apart from many other cinematic games is that it embellishes a very engaging spirit. While Gideon may not be a Master Chief or Solid Snake, he's a youthful guy with just as much ego and hang-ups as the next fellow. Character interactions seem so natural unlike the typical scripted format most games of this type tend to adopt. The first example of this attribute becomes immediately apparent during the offset as your roaming through the human spaceport. With the inclusion of convincingly, lifelike mannerisms, I found Advent Rising to be an immersive experience; supported by a rich cast of characters I cared deeply about.
Hopefully GlyphX will tweak some of the control issues for the forthcoming installments. If so, they may end up with a trilogy earning the merits of anyone's gaming collection. Overall, the plot and charisma of are just begging to be experienced. Complimented by a simple, universally accessible concept, Advent Rising is easy to enjoy and is full of potential and substance to stand on its own.