Most video game plots stink. For every brilliantly penned epic like Half-Life, there are dozens of True Crimes whose narratives wouldn't impress a sixth-grade English teacher. That makes the science-fiction actioner Advent Rising a particular treat - it delivers both power and plot.
Orson Scott Card (author of the sci-fi classic Ender's Game) spins humanity's survival against a race of aliens (the Seekers) hell-bent on their destruction because they believe humans to be the most powerful creatures in the universe. At its heart, Advent Rising is a third-person “save humanity” shooter (you can play in first-person, but you won't want to) with light role-playing elements, but the cutscenes advance the plot and lend a greater adventure-y feel to the campaign.
Unfortunately, things start very slowly when all you've got are your two fists and a series of tedious training exercises to complete. But, like a steam-powered locomotive, once the wheels grip the tracks, it's a thrilling ride that's nearly impossible to stop.
As you move from one epic outdoor set piece to another - somewhat reminiscent of Halo, including the occasional vehicle - you'll pick up new weapons that improve in damage and accuracy the more you use them. Eventually, as a host of friendly aliens (the Aurelians), tasked with protecting humanity, help you unlock your species' untapped potential, you'll learn to pull off Matrix-style moves like a slow-motion cartwheel strafe and gravity-defying punch-and-kick attack, and even shoot energy blasts from one hand while unloading a pistol with the other.