Advent Rising Review - 

If you�re looking for definitive proof that the Xbox is by no means becoming obsolete, then pick up a copy of Advent Rising and you'll soon see that Microsoft�s current-gen console still has plenty to offer. Majesco and GlyphX have created an action shooter of epic proportions.

It should be noted that Advent Rising is the first piece of software ever to be created by the team at GlyphX, and its overall quality will no doubt ensure the company’s continued future within the gaming industry (which apparently will consist of a selection of as yet un-announced PC and next-gen console titles, according to their official website). Which brings us swiftly to the game itself; Advent Rising is the Hollywood blockbuster of video-gaming. It’s an immersing thrill ride supported by production values the likes of which most games developers can only dream of. It is, however, not without its flaws but if you have the patience to look beyond these occasional gameplay hiccups, then what you are left with is a frantic sci-fi shooter that we feel is well worth sinking your teeth into.

As Gideon Wyeth, a young flight combat specialist who comes from a long line of military men, you are tasked with repelling an alien invasion by an insect-like species known only as The Seekers, a malevolent race who believe that they have evolved to the pinnacle of existence and that all inferior life in the galaxy must be eradicated. The sheer size of their forces combined with their aptitude for handling a surprising array of weaponry results in the near eradication of the human race. The game begins, however, a few hours before the devastating attack, with a richly detailed cutscene introducing Gideon and his brother, Ethan, who are making preparations for first contact between Humans and Aurelians, a graceful, dragon like race who you later discover revere humans as religious icons. You are then thrust into control of Gideon’s space ship, a sleek, compact sized craft, and are tasked with docking his vessel at a nearby space station.

From the moment the action begins, you get an overwhelming sense of actually being very much in control of this grand adventure, as opposed to acting merely as a spectator. This is helped in part by some gorgeous background scenery, filled with intricate detail that squeezes more graphical power out of the Xbox than one might expect it to be capable of producing. The nebulae backdrop is flanked on the left by the shimmering hull of an Aurelian mothership, with your home planet of Edumea resting gracefully to the right. It’s quite a spectacle to behold; it’s a shame that you don’t spend very long in the space environment before reaching the station, but the sheer quality of your surroundings certainly makes for a visually powerful start to the game.

After a slightly awkward training mission (which takes place in the form of a bar room brawl between Gideon and a couple of marines) you then move into the realms of combat simulation, which is where you gain access to a small fraction of the weapons available in Advent Rising. It’s here that you first get an idea of how the game plays when combat is bought into focus. Gideon can wield two weapons at one time, mixing and matching them to suit his current situation; we particularly enjoyed combining a rocket launcher with one of the meaty pistols, for both explosive support and medium range marksmanship. Assigning weapons to Gideon is done through holding the X (left hand) and Y (right hand) buttons. Enemies can be locked on to via the use of a ‘flick targeting’ system, which allows you to quickly select the adversary you wish to be obliterate by tapping the right thumbstick in their direction. The combat itself is fun and varied, especially when you combine Gideon’s acrobatic jumps (A button) and his ability to dual wield. The guns all sound suitably futuristic and powerful, and as the game progresses, you will be able to combine weapon/melee combat with unlockable special powers such as Negate, a small bubble like shield that can protect Gideon from harm, and Aeon Pulse, a powerful electromagnetic pulse that is projected all around him for three hundred and sixty degrees of destruction. Whilst the combat itself is extremely well realised, the flick targeting system, in a tight spot, can be problematic, often not selecting the enemy you intended to fire upon, thus leaving you vulnerable and open to attack. However you soon get used to how it works (its sensitivity can be adjusted from the options menu), then it soon becomes more of a help than a hindrance. The controls for Advent Rising will feel strange at first, which is initially worrying because they do seem so unfamiliar, and even slightly off putting. However, give the game a chance and you’ll soon settle in; the combat and movement controls are actually very cleverly thought out, but they may take some getting used to.

Another thing that this game really has going for it is the quite staggering size of its levels. As you begin the game exploring the space station and eventually end up planet side on Edumea, it is impossible not to notice the fact that there really is so much space around you. Fortunately, such huge environments have not been put in just for the sake of it; every area has a purpose, every room a function, and every path, a worthwhile destination. For the game to support such large areas, loading screens are commonplace, but generally never last more than 10 seconds or so.

The freedom offered by Advent Rising is extremely refreshing, and the overall scale of the game is equally impressive; whether you're fighting in amongst the ruins of a devastated city block, the barren desert plains that seem to stretch out for miles on end, or within the confines of an alien spaceship, you’ll always find that there will be something going on in the background around you. On one particular mission, you can make out a squad of A.I. team-mates fighting bravely besides one another in the distance, whilst on another, space ships engage furiously in battle over head while you traverse a deserted road in one of the coolest vehicles ever to feature in a video game. The Scythe, a small, three-man buggy that is compact, speedy, and packs quite a punch, comes fitted with a booster and machine gun as standard. Whilst used sparingly throughout Advent Rising, the Scythe successfully adds yet another layer to an already varied gameplay experience, and never ceases being fun to use.

It is extremely unfortunate however that Advent Rising suffers from a series of mild technical glitches, which, when they do rear their strange, ugly heads, tend to detract from the believability of the game and leave you feeling somewhat deflated. It should be pointed out though that these bugs have never actually affected the outcome of any given mission, but their presence does prevent particular sections of the game from being as memorable or as enjoyable as others. Most of the problems that we discovered were to do with the audio elements of game; during a particularly intense firefight, where the music was building up in an ever increasing crescendo, everything suddenly went quiet. All of the sound effects, music, and other noise being produced at that moment in time just went dead. It wasn’t until we managed to complete the area in question and reached a cutscene that the sound finally kicked back in. There were also times when certain sounds would cut out, leaving only the noise of say, Gideon’s footsteps, or the cries of innocent civilians, or the hum of the space station, playing out in the background whilst everything else remained silent. After approximately 7-10 seconds, all of the sound effects returned to normal, but they were gone long enough for you to not only notice that they had been absent, but also to question the believability of what it was that you were playing.

A.I. glitches were rare, and yet we still came across a couple of strange ones; fleeing NPC’s running straight into walls (still screaming) being the weirdest, whilst twitchy movement from team mates running by your side also quite unusual. We should re-iterate that these problems in no way adversely affected the gameplay itself or the successful accomplishment of any of the objectives, but it’s still frustrating to watch such a good game occasionally fail to work properly in this respect.

Having said all of that, it would be foolhardy to ignore the fact that everything else about this game, from its sweeping 70 piece orchestral score, to its fast paced, and often surprising storyline, feels very much like its been taken straight out of an action movie and molded into an interactive adventure. Every sound effect, every piece of music, and every line of dialogue has been produced with quality and realism in mind. There is never a dull moment in Advent Rising, and this can be attributed not only to the intense shooting/exploration aspects of the game, but also to the fact that the music and sound effects really are second to none. If you’ve got a surround sound set-up of some kind, then this game should be a perfect excuse for you to crank up the volume.

It’s also filled with clever touches, such as the ability to dive, roll and back flip your way out of danger, the option to play from a first person perspective (which doesn’t work nearly as well as the third person view, but kudos still go to GlyphX for including it in the first place), and the RPG like leveling up system, which involves you gaining experience which can allow you to unlock new technologies that can be applied to any of your weapons (for example, once you reach Weapons Mastery Level 3, a grenade launcher attachment is then added to the bottom of your Assault Rifle, which can be armed by pressing the Black button, followed by either the X or Y buttons, depending upon which hand the gun is assigned to).

Advent Rising is such a rewarding game, and you can be sure that if you were to invest in it, then you would not walk away disappointed. Undeniably grand in its presentation, and built upon a story that is sure to enthrall and entertain, this game could not be more worthy of your attention, and is a title that we’d whole heartedly recommend as one of the great sci-fi adventures of the current generation of video gaming.

Whilst some technical issues have forced us to rate it lower than perhaps its content truly deserves, if you are willing to look beyond such problems, then what you’ll get out of playing Advent Rising is something very special indeed.

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