Advent Rising starts with humanities' first contact with an alien race. Two things are found out quickly; First, that humans are revered throughout the universe as gods who will deliver the universe to a new age of peace and harmony, believed by many to be myth. Second, that an alien race named the Seekers has discovered them and is coming to annihilate humanity. You play as Gideon Wyeth, a rookie pilot living in the shadow of his war hero brother. 

The seekers arrive soon, and Gideon and two other humans barely escape the demise of the rest of humanity thanks to the help of the Aurelians, the benevolent alien race. On their ship, the leader of the Aurelians - who trains in using magic - awakens the power within Gideon, the first step in the journey to become the god that the prophecy said you were. From there, there are plot twists, betrayals, and a cliffhanger ending. It works great as the first part of an epic sci-fi trilogy, but unfortunately parts two and three are unlikely to ever come. Despite the cliff hanger ending, it still feels like it's own episode, rather than taking out the first third of a bigger story. 

Advent Rising is a third person shooter, but a very unique one. It has 12 weapons (each with an alternate fire mode), but also incorporates six psychic powers (also with their own alternate fire mode), melee combat, and jumping/dodging. All of those can be leveled up by using them enough. Leveling up weapons gives access to the alternate fire mode and increases power, same with your powers. Melee combat has damage improved, gives you access to kicks, fatalities, and a seismic pound area of effect attack. Jumping/dodging unlocks slow motion dodging and a chargeable jump that allows you to jump higher.

Any combination of weapons and power can be dual wielded (and I do mean any. Dual wielding rocket launchers ftw), with you accessing your inventory of two guns and up to six powers with the D-Pad (which greatly slows down time, making changing weapons/powers seamless) and selecting which hand you want it in with the L or R button. They are fired independently of each other, like Halo, rather than with one button, like, say, Timesplitters. Fire modes are switched between by holding the black button and pushing the fire button for whichever weapon you want switched.

There is a great variety of powers, you've got a force lift and force push equivalent that have multi-lift and weapon steal alternates respectively. You've also got a force field that deflects shots and pushes enemies back, which can later be turned into a bubble that protects you from almost any attack and damages any nearby enemy. There's also an energy blast with three abilities (standard shot, area of effect attack, and a beam of energy that one hit kills almost anything), explosive ice shards/freezing enemies to make them vulnerable to a one hit kill from anything, and the ability to launch a high speed attack/slow down time. The powers all drain a bar in the bottom left that refills when powers are not in use, and as they level up they use less, making them more and more practical.

Melee combat is limited to pushing one button, but it complements your powers well. Fatalities allow you to kill any enemy with low health immediately. During the animation, you are invincible and can shoot at your enemies weak points, and few things are as badass as breaking an alien monsters neck with your bare hands while killing two others with shots in the head. Slow motion dodges also focus your shots on an enemies weak point, allowing you to drop them quickly.

So you change fire modes, punch/kick, and dodge with buttons reached by your right thumb; then how do you aim? With a unique system called Flick Targeting. You lock onto enemies and switch targets by flicking the right analog stick in their direction, allowing you to do all the aforementioned actions without breaking the flow of combat. It works poorly early in the game, when you're essentially a normal soldier. As time goes by and you gain access to more powers, it starts to show its worth, and by the end of the game it works well. Assuming it works at all, that is. Most of the time it works, but rarely it would just start bugging out and refuse to work for minutes at a time.

The game could definitely have used some more bug testing. It suffers from audio/visual glitches and freezes occasionally. The camera also has problems, there were five or six times after killing an enemy the camera would lock to the spot it was at and I'd have to restart from the last checkpoint because the camera wouldn't work. I also remember having to start a level over because a door wouldn't open. On the bright side, I've never heard of someones save files deleting themselves, unlike certain critically acclaimed games... Yes, I'm accusing reviewers of having a double standard. While I'm at it, I'll accuse the sky of being blue.

Advent Rising is rather linear, but there are sometimes large areas. Usually it's clear enough where to go, but occasionally it can be somewhat confusing. There are a few vehicle sections, but the controls for the ATV are very loose and its only redeeming factor is that it has a rocket booster. Any time you use the Seeker Tank is a cake walk, because it has high speed, can move in all directions, and and uses flick targeting. It essentially turns into 'move around while pushing shoot'.

There's a good sized array of enemies to fight, everything from aliens with staffs that deflect your attacks to mechs. I'd say there's around ten unique enemy types. There's also three boss fights, but they boil down to "hide behind shield, shoot, repeat until the enemy uses the next attack. Run away, shoot. repeat three times", "Run away, use Lift to take enemy's rock and hit him with it, attack, repeat.", and "hide behind shield, play catch with your enemies ball of dark energy when he uses it, and after making him vulnerable throw a rock at him. Repeat five times." 

The last one is particularly disappointing because of the fact that you're battling someone who equals your own power, and YOU ARE A GOD. I can imagine the discussion at the developer now... Person #1 "OK, so for the final boss battle we're having a fight between gods. Ideas?" Person #2 "How about we have the boss use a giant ball of energy, then have the player use the surge attack with a huge window of opportunity to send it back? After that, throw a rock at him, everyone knows paper beats rock and rock beats huge earth destroying blast of energy." Person #1 "Sounds great, lets do it." Person #3 "..."

Another good thing is the transition from being a normal human to having godlike power. It doesn't happen all at once, and at first your powers aren't that strong. You'll have to rely on guns, and use your powers to back them up. As you level them up higher, you'll find them getting stronger and you'll rely on them more and more, and by the end you'll likely holster your weapons altogether and just use powers. You'll have gone from being an everyday soldier to being able to break the necks of enemies twice your size with your bare hands while throwing another off a cliff with lift and killing a third with energy blasts, then doing a slo-mo dive and finishing the rest of them.


*This review was not edited to address the bad reviewer mechanics

Note: credit for the sentence with the BTAS link goes to Solid Shoob.