Hype can be an interesting thing, especially for a new developer with so much ambition. Glyphx’s Advent Rising has been on the radar of more than its fair share of gaming enthusiasts for quite some time. Promising a stellar story penned by the legendary Orson Scott Card and a ton of originality in the game play department, gamers were expecting another must own for their beloved Xbox console. What they got was a game that is so ambitious that at times, it seems that it came out just a bit before it was ready. Read on to find out why this game is just shy of becoming one of the greatest games you never played this generation.
The story of Advent Rising revolves around the events of Gideon Wyeth, a human with untapped potential, and the obliteration of the entire human race. Sounds extremely epic doesn’t it? Well it is, from the start you immediately care about the characters in the game. When someone dies you feel sorrow and when Gideon’s rage begins to surface you are right there with him. This is great storytelling at its finest, the cut scenes and superlative voice acting carry along the already magnificently written space drama.
Unfortunately a great story can only carry a game so far in this day and age; you also have to have the game play to back it up. This is where Advent Rising shows its promise; while at the same time completely falls apart. There is so much ambition here its scary; from the innovative targeting system to the massive amounts of powers and upgrades this game has style in spades. The upgrade system works based on how much you perform each move. For instance if you dodge and jump a lot those attributes will be upgraded quicker. This is the best way to utilize an upgrade system because it rewards the player for the way they choose to play the game. This beats the hell out of collecting ridiculous items or trinkets to upgrade specific powers.
The weapons system is also excellent, taking a cue from such games as Red Faction 2 and using each trigger to represent each arm. This is great because you can assign separate weapons to each arm as well as powers when you obtain them. This is also wherein the first of AR’s many problems lies. Navigating the weapons and power menus is much more than a chore than it needs to be. Each power and weapon has a symbol but they are hard to read in the heat of battle. It can also get confusing which power does what unless you memorize their position on the menu. I can’t understand why more developers do not inherit the Freedom Fighters scheme of a circle select wheel. I found it to be more user friendly and I could quickly select whatever weapon I wanted at will by the end of the game. To give it credit when on the menu it does slow down the game, but navigating the menu with the d-pad while trying to move with the left analog stick is frustrating in itself.
This brings me to the visual aspect of AR. First off I want to say that I think the alien designs are magnificent. The creative juices were certainly flowing when these aliens were crafted. The humans on the other hand are a definite miss in several areas. To begin with almost every NPC in the game has the exact same model; in fact a main character you run into later in the game has the exact same face model as your fiancé. Their dialogue is also on a loop, leaving and returning to a previously visited room will start the conversation over again. Gideon’s fighting and dodging animations are however top tier. Slow mo dodging has rarely been this good looking, there is nothing more satisfying than pelting two enemies full of lead while performing a cartwheel, simply gratifying. The worlds of AR can be gorgeous at times, crisp landscapes chock full of alien technology and beautiful structures add to the feel of the world. Now to the killer, this game is chock full of so many glitches and inconsistent frame rate drops that it almost deems itself un-playable. It is not uncommon to experience lock-ups and simply agitating glitches that cause an unexpected death or sudden falls off of narrow catwalks.
Sure there is a lot to love about Advent Rising, but there is just as much to be frustrated with as well. Many gamers will be able to look past the flaws and find one of the most ambitious titles created this generation. Others will simply be upset with the lack of polish and I cannot blame them. This is one of those titles that should have been an instant classic, but technical oversights and lazy programming have marred this title to the disappointing level of rental at best. Hopefully developer Glyphx will get another shot and learn from their mistakes this time. This game could certainly become an excellent trilogy, if they can iron out it’s wrinkles.