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Advent Rising, is, as advertised, a third person shooter/action game with a plot written and directed by Orson Scott Card. You can tell it's written by Orson Scott Card, because themes involving divinity and insult wordplay come up a lot. The gameplay is generally pretty good, and while the game has its flaws, it's definitely worth a look if you're a Card fan or if you like this genre of games.
STORY 4/5: Unfortunately, Advent Rising was supposed to be one of those franchise-starting games, and ends on an explicit "To Be Continued" (when I say explicit, I mean it. The words "To Be Continued" will flash up on your screen.). However, besides the blatant cliffhanger, the story of the game is pretty good. In a nutshell, you're Gideon Wyath, a space marine and pilot who is selected to be part of a diplomatic mission to meet with the first alien race humanity has come into contact with after spreading to many worlds and resolving a civil war with its own colonies. The new race seems friendly, to the point of being openly worshipful of humanity. Then another race shows up, intent on killing all humans, and things go downhill from there. Generally, the story is delivered by cutscenes which sprout up at irregular intervals during the game, and every level has at least three story chunks in it. Sometimes the gap between the cutscenes and the gameplay can be a little jarring, but it's generally pretty good. However, due to the aforementioned lack of sequels, there are some plot-points introduced in the cutscenes that are never really explained at any point in the game.
GAMEPLAY 4/5: When you're not watching a cutscene, you're usually either shooting things or driving some kind of vehicle around and trying not to get blown up. The action never lets up, which might be a good thing or not, depending on your perspective. After a little practice, all of your guns and powers are fairly easy to use, because they all work in roughly the same way: you target, and then right or left click to fire. You can also switch into First-Person mode if you want to hit distant targets or just play a style of game you're more familiar with, but in close quarters auto-aiming is usually faster. All weapons and powers have a leveling system that makes them more effective and/or develop further abilities as you use them, giving you an incentive to specialize. That said, by the time you learn to lift and throw things with your mind, guns are almost useless. This game does have a difficulty curve, but for some reason it slopes DOWNWARDS. Your enemies do not get substantially more powerful as the game goes on, but you learn more and more special abilities and level up the abilities you already have. Basically, the game is a non-stop xeno slaughterfest after the first few levels, particularly because, after you learn telekinesis, you also gain the ability to completely regenerate your health as long as no one shoots you for about ten seconds. Your foes do become more numerous, true, but their weapons aren't any tougher and just learn more ways to kill them.
SOUNDS 4/5: The music is very good (epic chords and latin chanting FTW!), but it's limited. There's a few different fighting tracks, a few ambient tracks, and that's all. Occasionally the music gets drowned out by ambient noise, especially when you're driving any kind of vehicle. Turning down the ambient noise also makes it hard to hear anyone talking. Voice acting is generally pretty good, so not being able to hear it is annoying.
VISUALS 5/5: This game is quite shiny for the time it was made. The aliens you encounter generally do look fairly alien, and their ships even more so. Generally speaking, there is nothing in this game that I would describe as badly designed, visually, and in particular the hand-to-hand combat fatality animations are pretty cool. Although, for some reason, all the humans have unnaturally long legs, but you get used to that.
OVERALL 4/5: My two biggest complaints about this game are that it is too short and the plot remains unfinished. Having finished it, I would like to play some more of it, and that should tell you something about its quality.