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June 11, 2005

Advent Rising

I picked up Advent Rising from the Blockbuster rather than waiting for Gamefly. It's a fabulous game, but M11 likes it much more than I. The concept is great, no doubt because of the influence of Orson Scott Card. But what strikes me about this game is that it is clearly a genre breaker. It has every intention of being its own movie, and I very much like the direction that takes.

Advent Rising, in aiming to be its own cinematic experience sets a new high for scope, just short of Halo, but something of a new low for gameplay. For me the battle action was just too sloppy and fast. It felt like Unreal but less precise. Unreal is already too fast for me, not that I don't like fast action, I just don't dig the physics. It's simply unreal, blurry, jaggy - the edges don't meet.

There's one thing that is astoundingly cool about Advent Rising is that it gives your fighter a lot more power than any avatar usually gets, and in this I find the greatest possibilities. Most games until this point make you slave very hard to get your powers, and the best of them like KOTOR or Fable, make results strategic. The best multi-forker in that way was the LA street cop game True Crime: Streets of LA. But like most video games, you are all too human. In AR, you very quickly get to superhuman skills, ala Psy Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy another great favorite of mine. (I'm surprised that I hadn't already written a review of Psy Ops, and I certainly hope to be that character in a sequel.) And although AR gives no indication that it will do any forking based upon choices between good and evil, it's just the kind of mix of action, role-playing and strategy that hopefully will arise in the next generation of games.

Right now Psy Ops has the best chance of taking our hero off-world to battle greater forces. Here's the great fork. Allow your guy to rampage or crusade to a level where he's got country capturing skills. Instead of just defending an oil refinery from terrorists, let our guy vaporize one with mind powers and plunge a nation into chaos. He walks among the streets, impervious with an edict to 'take me to your leader' whom he crushes instantly. He directs epic battles from the front and conquers the globe. Just as soon as world domination is his and he gets the ultimate power, aliens drop in and exile him to another planet on the far side of the galaxy. Now he has to start over, a planet at a time. This is more on the KOTOR scale, and I haven't gotten far enough into KOTOR II to see if this is the arc - but I basically don't want to have to deal with Pazaak, see?

Anyway, Advent Rising has already announced itself as a trilogy, and the guy behind the effort has already said it is the 'least awesome' of his many ideas. Bears waiting for. Meanwhile, I gotta turn it in today - not worth the late fees.

Posted by mbowen at June 11, 2005 12:19 PM

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