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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
GlyphX Inc.
May 31, 2005
Advent Shadow

 Written by Troy Matsumiya  on April 19, 2005

New Impressions: The epic sci-fi adventure is almost here.

Advent Rising made its debut at E3 2003 and got gamers all hot and bothered about this sweeping sci-fi action adventure, even though it was a very early build filled with the expected technical issues. It appeared again at E3 a year later to heavy anticipation, but the choppy framerate, awkward controls and wildly swinging camera deflated most expectations.

Fortunately, things change quickly in the gaming industry, and Advent Rising is now looking more like the ambitious game we were promised. The developers admit that it wasn't really ready for E3 and to their credit, they took the criticisms to heart and worked diligently to hammer out the technical issues ? and from the looks of it, they are succeeding beyond anyone's expectations.

Advent Rising is intended to be the first chapter in an epic science fiction trilogy. The story is written by famed sci-fi author Orson Scott Card, who blends together mythology, technology, unique alien cultures, and the nature of humanity. Throughout the galaxy, a race of beings known as humans are regarded as mythical legends that will one day ?deliver? the universe. No one has ever seen a human, or even know if they are real ? no one, that is, except for the Seekers (who look similar to Halo's Elites, except they have two additional limbs sticking out from their hips ? yes, it looks as creepy as it sounds). They also act like Elites in their rabid drive to wipe humans from the face of the galaxy. But the Seekers are more subtle in their approach; they present themselves as friendly explorers who visit strange new worlds to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no creepy-Elite-looking-alien-with-two-extra-legs has gone before ? but their real goal is to hunt down and kill humans.

Without getting too deep into the story, suffice it to say that humans are found living on a small world called Edumea by a friendly faction of the Aurelian race. You will play as Gideon Wyeth, a member of the diplomatic party dispatched to greet the Aurelians, and this is where things will really heat up as you unravel the story of interstellar corruption and politics, fight for the survival of the human race, and uncover the humans' and your own personal destiny.

Developer GlyphX envisions Advent Rising as an interactive movie with you as the hero. As a result, there will be many cinematic cutscenes and the ones we've seen so far are breathtaking and reminiscent of a smash Hollywood blockbuster. To reinforce this concept and help pull you deeper into the experience, the developers didn't want to have you fiddle with awkward controls, and so they created the unique ?flick? targeting system. By flicking the right thumbstick towards an enemy, your aiming reticle will lock onto them, leaving your right thumb free to work the face buttons for dodges and attacks.

Your thumb will probably appreciate the new-found freedom because you will have several weapons, acrobatic moves and ?super powers? to choose from. Unlike most shooters where you start off with the weakest weapons and have to find or unlock the best ones, you will begin the game with every weapon; automatics, SMGs, grenades, RPGs, 12 of your all-time of your favorite toys ? each with secondary attacks. Oh, and they're all upgradeable too. You can also pick up and use any weapon, including the enemies'. Combine that with the flick targeting and it sounds like you'll have an unfair advantage, right?

Well, not exactly. Enemies will not only be tough, but fast. They will sprint and leap at cat-like speeds, and even jump from incredible heights to attack you. While your weapons will do the job at first, eventually you will have to rely upon your evolutionary super powers to teach those nasty Seekers a lesson in manners.

As you progress, you will gain six evolutionary and four melee powers. Evolutionary powers include Wield, a telekinetic power that will allow you to pick up and throw not only single, but multiple objects, vehicles and enemies at the same time. Taking a cue from Mortal Kombat, you will also be able to throw energy balls and slam a ground pound shockwave that knocks down and damages enemies. You will also be able to create an energy shield that can be used to knock down opponents or to protect you from attacks. Melee attacks start off as weak punches or kicks, but can be upgraded into devastating combos.

Defensive powers include special acrobatic moves like a bullet-time dodge that slows down time, and a super jump. The cool thing about these moves is that you can change moves, weapons and tactics on the fly ? literally. While you're in the air, you can or switch weapons and powers to launch new attacks or perform new acrobatic moves. Not impressed? Well, consider that you can dual wield and mix and match any weapon and super power. Now imagine changing the weapon in your right hand, the super power in your left, firing both (including shooting behind your back), and then switching them up again all while you're leaping through the air. Nice!

You may want to switch often, because the more you use a particular weapon or power, the more experience you gain with it; and as you gain experience, you can move up through five upgrade levels, giving you the ultimate weapon or uber power.

It won't all be about jumping and shooting, though ? you will have ample opportunity to fight in a wide variety of vehicles ranging from Warthog-like armored jeeps to alien tanks to space shuttles.

Graphically, Advent Rising is incredible ? not surprising since it uses the Unreal Warfare engine. The stylized visuals have an anime flavor to them, with the humans a bit longer, leaner and more vulnerable-looking than normal, as opposed to the huge and hulking alien enemies. You can play in the first-person view if you like, but will most likely stay with the default third-person view to appreciate Gideon's amazing acrobatic moves and cool animations like his propensity for gun twirling. The beautiful weapon and super power effects are also sure to impress the most discerning gamer.

Final Thoughts
It's been a bit of a roller coaster ride for gamers waiting for Advent Rising: the giddy build up and anticipation, a disappointing plunge, and now a return to the original excitement. So hold on tight as we await the release date in May.

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