Friday, 20 May 2011

Tron 2.0 (PC) - Guest Post

Guest poster mecha-neko emerges from the digital world, bringing you this critical data stream.

Greetings, programs!

Okay, I admit I don't know what that means. I haven't seen the film. Never mind!

As this is a modern game, this post is presented in brand new 'click on the pictures to make them big'-o-vision™ for added enjoyment.

The background ...fanfare?... behind the title screen is abominable, but the actual title credits sequence music (YouTube link) is cool and dramatic. Shame nobody will hear it because they'll all have leapt out of their seats to turn off their speakers first.

"What's that? I'm Jet Bradley, a great big nerd, son of Alan Bradley from the movie, who is also a great big nerd? And he's been kidnapped? Holy buggers! Let me run off to the secret lab and get caught in a digitising laser right away!"

Ding! Jet's landed in a safe place in the digital world. He looks totally different with blue hair and no glasses.

He's been brought here because The System Needs His Help and digitizing him against his will while he was trying to save his father from being kidnapped was the best way to do it. Nobody ever asks, do they?

Byte and his program buddies offer me a tutorial on how the world works, but I can decline. The tutorial is simple but thorough, and they also send me Help Files so I can look stuff up later. Objectives can be seen by holding Tab, but for now all I have to do is follow that floating blue icosahedron around.

If you're going to pack your game with complicated nonsense, include a tutorial at least as good as this one.

This is the AI that I'm here to help.

"Alan Two, you must obtain your Disc before proceeding."

Yes! That's right! If this is Tron, I want a Disc. Gimme.

Alright! I have the Disc! Now we're talking. Or are we? Guess what happened!

I pressed the fire button to test out the Disc. Flung it at the nearest wall. It bounced off a couple of other walls and took out Byte in one hit.

'Illegal Program Termination'. Game over. You hit a noncombatant with a weapon and derez them, it's game over. Good job this game has quick saves and frequent auto saves!

I think I'll just hold on to the Disc until they say it's safe to throw it.

Combat training. The red guy throws his Disc, I block it with right mouse button so it flies away and then throw my own Disc while he's unarmed. Simple. Straightforward. Got it.

ARGH! Is this going to happen every time I get hit with something? The screen flashing red is one thing, but sparks and binary all over the place is too much. If I get hit once, I'm going to be so disoriented I'm not going to be able to fight back.

After defeating the guy, I wander across a narrow bridge to pick up a sphere representing his dropped items and health. On the way back, I fall off the bridge and instantly die.

After returning to the training hub, the story has a suprise for me... the whole place is falling apart! The viruses are coming!

These guys throw balls at me. I throw my Disc at them. It's really hard to hit these guys with it because they keep stooping over and striking a 'I'm-a-nasty-creature-man' pose. Missing with the Disc means it flies off all over the place and you have to wait a couple of seconds for it to return, even if you manually recall it. You have to use the Disc to attack; you can't punch 'em.

These guys are far from the mindless, feral enemies that I expected them to be. They can attack from any distance and they never seem to miss with their ball attack. The best thing about derezzing the viruses is that each time I do they make a loud 'Bzzziiinnnnng!' noise like I've won a secret prize on a quiz show.

Raiding boxes and derezzing opponents gets you subroutines you can stick in the boxes to upgrade your abilities or provide new weapon types. Better subroutines take up less space and have a more pronounced effect. You get experience points for completing objectives and finding hidden hexagons, allowing you to increase your Health and Energy.

This subroutine system is the only reason I bought Tron 2.0. If somebody finds 'Tile Based Inventory System with RPG Elements and Lots of Boxes You Fill With Stuff You Find (and there's probably an FPS in there somewhere too) The Game', you'll never have to sit through another mecha-neko post ever again.

Before long, I've found myself the 'Mesh'; a great big purple jaggedy crutch-shaped thing that fires purple fuzz all over the place.

The problem is that every weapon except the Disc draws from the same Energy pool. That wouldn't be much of a problem if it were easy to get Energy, but it's not. Downed enemies usually drop about 5 points of both Energy and Health, and that's if you're gutsy enough to run over to where they died and hit Use on the sphere before it disappears. On top of that, in order to acquire subroutines and the keys you need to advance you have to spend a lot of Energy points.

This guy is the Kernel. (That's pretty good!)

He's in charge of keeping the system secure. There's viruses everywhere and Jet's flinging his Disc around the place like it's nothing. He is not happy about this.

He's also not very happy that Jet's taken it upon himself to derez all the security programs in his way. Jet thinks it's alright to kill police officers because it's self defence, they're not really real, and he's also God.

Some of the levels look better than others. I prefer ones like this with nice open spaces, lots of secrets and no bottomless pits. Also, ones that aren't bright red.

The background music is really getting on my nerves. It switches between a series of disjointed clashing melodies, and a 'isn't the computer world MYSTERIOUS' theme that you'd expect to hear playing over a panning shot over the digital world the first time it's revealed to the audience. That might've been appropriate when you first enter the level and see the digital city stretching out in front of you (which doesn't happen), but it's not appropriate when you hear it EVERY MINUTE.

These security guys are pretty tough. Missing with the Disc at this point is pretty much instant death, so I decide to run up to the cops and smack them in the head with it over and over until they explode. That way, I won't miss, and I'll be right next to their sphere when it appears.

I've given up on trying to do the Disc block. It's too difficult. You click the right mouse button and Jet holds out the Disc in front of him for half a second. It's difficult to see the exact moment when the guards throw their Disc at you and if you can see the glowing red trail coming toward you, it's probably already too late. If there's multiple enemies, throwing your Disc leaves you defenseless. When that happens I try and get them to line up so if I miss, my returning Disc ends up behind them and flies through them all backwards.

Lots more fast paced running and jumping later and I've activated the port outta here! Let's go!

The Kernel's forces have redirected it so that it sends me directly to the Kernel's Headquarters. Bogus.

I don't see why Jet gives up so easily. All he has to do is throw his Disc in any direction and he'll take out at least a dozen reds before it decides to return.

Jet's about to be sentenced to deresolution when a mystery woman suggests a more exciting punishment:

Lightcycles! Woo!

What can I say? They're lightcycles! You drive around in a straight lines and try to get the other guys to crash into your line!

In Tron 2.0, there's a couple of powerups you can pick up to give yourself an advantage. The first is 'Turbo Boost', which makes your cycle even more uncontrollable than it already is.

The second is 'Shield Break', which gives you the ability to drive through lightcycle trails without exploding, RENDERING THE ENTIRE MINIGAME COMPLETELY POINTLESS.

It's the mystery woman! She saw that I was really working To Fix The System, and so engineered my escape from the lightcycle grid. Because the Kernel still has my Disc weapon, she taught me a new technique I can use to defend myself until I can retrieve it.

It's called 'Snap the Lightcycle Rod in half and electrocute the security programs painfully until they explode.'

This Rod weapon is way better than the Disc. The Disc was useless; the Rod kills them in seconds and they can't fight back.

Only having access to weapons that use Energy means that I have to be really careful. Without Energy, I can't attack at all or pick up keys. If I get spotted by an enemy they activate an alarm, causing even more enemies to appear. There's also floating security camera type enemies that are really difficult to hit.

Up near the centre of the screen is a box full of helpful subroutines and interesting e-mails explaining what's going on in the 'real world' while I'm in here. Getting up there is a fun happy jumping experience. Falling down from there accidentally is instant death because the falling damage in this game is absurd.

Hunting around these huge levels to find the keys you need to advance is fun at first, but gets old fast. There's no map. Everything merges together in one blur of red lines, so seeing the enemies before they see you isn't easy. Make sure to look away from the screen from time to time or you'll mess your eyes up.

At least the music's perked up a bit.

Now that I've fought my way up the Tower and got my Disc back, I can use the 'Super Block' subroutine I found in that box. It's supposed to power up my Disc block and turn it into a powerful counter-attack. All it's doing right now is filling the screen with bright blue circles making it completely impossible to tell what is going on. Back to the electric stick, I think.

Amongst my Energy-wasting useless pile of crap weapons, I have a sniper rifle. Or, as the game calls it, the 'LOL Rifle'. No, really.

It's called a LOL Rifle.

The Disc and the Rod don't take up slots on your inventory wheel, but upgraded forms like the LOL Rifle do, so they're really not worth taking along (at least, not yet).

This thing is a shotgun called Suffusion. It uses up loads of Energy, makes squares appear and turns everything blue. It's more like a cyber-blunderbuss.

None of the weapons seem to really do much except the Rod. Trying to snipe enemies with the LOL Rifle is very difficult because the security programs' heads are inset into their armour and it's difficult to see what you're aiming at through all the glow.

One neat thing about the upgraded forms is that they each have their own appearance animation. Rod weapons like the LOL Rifle and Suffusion have Jet snap the Lightcycle Rod in two, causing beams of light and fragments to appear and form to create the gun. It's more interesting than 'gun slides up from waist'.

I both really like and really hate Tron 2.0.

Raiding boxes for subroutines, shooting folks, finding secret items and the lame-ish plot are all good. The lousy weapons, impossible to hit enemies and constant deaths ruin it. There's an option to have the Disc automatically target enemies, but I turned it off because I'm not a wuss.

The main problem with Tron 2.0 is that it's so Tron. It's all 'programs' this and 'systems' that and if you're not a big Tron fan, you'll probably tire of it fast. If you're looking forward to seeing the level which doesn't look like Tron, you'll be disappointed.

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