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Tron 2.0: Killer App hits consoles some months after making its debut onto the PC and, as before in the past, delivers the same unique sci-fi experience minus a little excessive load time. Though it's time of debut wasn't exactly the most strategically sound, with the hype of "Halo 2" and "Metroid Prime" and other strong first-person shooters still very fresh in the air, here's a solid FPS that should not be overlooked and is definitely worthy of a little curtain time.
Tron 2.0 is based off the 1982 sci-fi thriller that, for a brief period, seemed to take the US by storm. Plotted in an alternative, medieval-like, electronic universe, "Tron" appealed to millions of viewers with its unique and compelling storyline. Now years later, via more advanced modern day technology, fans of the film can experience for themselves the hype of this former big-screen hit.
You play as Jet Bradley, son of Alan Bradley, a big time computer wiz and C.E.O of Encom's Research and Development division. Jet's father wants him to commit to a serious career opportunity with Encom, but Jet would much rather stick to designing videogames for a living. Of course, as the game of life would have it, things are always subject to change.
One ill-fated day, amidst one of those father/son talks over the company chat com, Dad's conversation with Jet is suddenly interrupted by an intrusion in his laboratory. Jet is unable to get a clear understanding of the situation but judging from the surprise in his father's voice and all the racket going on in the background, he knows that something has definitely gone wrong.
Concerned about his Dad, Jet rushes off for the lab only to find his father missing upon his arrival. He begins investigating his lab and discovers that his father has been working on a top-secret project entitled "Ma3a." He puts two and two together and figures that his father was abducted for his knowledgeable insight on the Ma3a program. Just then, Jet is suddenly zapped by an overhead laser system controlled by Ma3a and almost instantaneously digitized and warped to a parallel digital universe.
Finding himself trapped in a world ravaged by war and under siege by a "viral program", known only as Thorne, and his legion of corrupt programs, Jet gathers his courage about him and seeks to find out what really happened to his father and to learn why Ma3a digitized him and sent him to this forsaken place.
Upon his entry into this strange new world, Jet , is greeted by a highly intelligent electronic "byte" that guides him around and shows him the ropes. With the help of this byte Jet is soon able to tap into his newly acquired offensive and defensive abilities. Over time he begins to realize that even more than finding the whereabouts of his father is a greater underlying destiny to save this corrupt world from this minion of hostile programs.
On the surface "Killer App" is seemingly your average first-person shooter, but in actuality is a FPS with some fairly serious depth. In the computer world, the "Users" or human programmers who access the mainframe are at the top of the hierarchy of power. The "programs" of the digitized world have an absolute respect for these "Users" and carry out their commands religiously for the most part. Ironically, Jet, who himself is technically a "User" finds himself the "illegal program" in this alternate dimension and as a result is constantly being hunted by "security programs" (virus cops) who believe he is the reason behind the corruption of the mainframe as well as the evil soldier drones of Thorne.
Being the "odd-program-out" also makes things a little more difficult for our hero in terms of navigating around in this strange new world. Nearly every important door in the digital dimension is guarded by a pass code requiring Jet to seek out access keys or "permissions" which allow him access to those otherwise off-limit sectors.
Permissions can be found and acquired in "Archive bins" strategically located throughout each area. Archive bins contain downloadable "item nodes" like permissions, subroutines and informative emails to help Jet along the way.
Subroutines, also accessible through Archive bins, will play a vital part in Jet's survival strategy throughout the game. There are a total of 3 classes of subroutines. Utility subroutines add special abilities to Jet's weapons arsenal as well as increase some of his physical attributes. Defensive subroutines are just that. Downloading these subroutines will provide Jet with superior armor protection. Finally, combat subroutines transform and upgrade weapons into bigger and bader tools of mass destruction.
Once Jet has downloaded the necessary subroutines he can add them to himself for use via his very own built-in "system memory." The "system memory" is Jet's floppy disk for storing attributes, weapons, and pass codes acquired during his travels. However, like any other floppy we know, you only have so much space to save.
Jet is only fitted with so many slots for memory and since some subroutines can take up as much as three slots of memory you'll sometimes have to improvise your strategy by adding and removing subroutines to tweak your performance or establish the necessary attributes for the situation. This allows players to somewhat customize Jet to better suit their own liking and play the game according to their own styles or interests.
Of course, there are dangers to downloading various files to Jet's system memory and so you'll have to employ "procedural" subroutines from time to time for memory maintenance. Procedural subroutines are system tools that repair corrupted memory sectors, disinfect stored subroutines, and convert foreign subroutines into ones that can be used by Jet's own system. Without these tools in place Jet could experience a 50% performance rate with infected subroutines as well as a massive viral corruption of his memory slots making subroutines unable to be placed into memory for use.
Once you get familiar with all the "computer lingo" and the way things work in the digital world then you can really begin to enjoy the game in all it other various aspects. You start the game with your classic trusty "disc" that any fan of the movie should recall. The disc is something the equivalent of a highly destructible "frizby" with a boomerang effect to it. It's probably the most effective weapon in the game being it has devastating effects over a wide range of distance and can deflect enemy fire if you're timing is pretty good. None the less, though, there is more "cool" out there.
As you progress through the game you'll unlock a really cool arsenal of weapons like the "Mesh", a quick fire energy blaster, the "Suffusion", a close ranged weapon with a shotgun blast of energy pellets, the "Ball Launcher", which shoots a ball of corruption as a fast-moving projectile, the "Energy Claw", a close to moderate range weapon that drains energy and health from targeted enemies while recharging your own energy cache, and other cleverly cool weapons like the "LOL", a sniper type weapon mounted with a scope that shoots a deadly pulse of energy with pinpoint accuracy.
Even though, there's some room for improvement, it's a lot of fun to play the "Light Cycle" races. The races take place in contained environments or game grids. At the start of each race you go through a cool transformation animation before the race begins. To win the race you must force the other racer(s) to crash into a wall or Light Cycle trail.
You can pick up "power-ups" throughout the race to intensify the fun and competition. Acquire power-ups such as the "Shield", which stays active until you break through a single Light Cycle trail, the "Turbo Boost" which temporarily boosts your speed for a period of time, the "Trail Spike", which momentarily generates a small perpendicular intersecting trail wall behind the Light Cycle that opponents may have to avoid if in close vicinity, and other advantageous power-ups like "Missiles" which destroy all Light Cycles and/or trails in their flight path until they hit the arena wall.
There are also some environmental obstacles to keep an eye out for. Green glowing floor grids indicate speed zones. When in a speed zone, all Light Cyclists quickly accelerate to the zone's maximum speed. Red glowing floor grids indicate slow zones. When in a slow zone, all Light Cyclists will quickly decelerate to the zone's minimum speed. Also, in a number of grid arenas, you will encounter large "energy cubes" that will periodically cycle on and off. When translucent you may pass through them, however, when they are solid you must avoid them to keep from crashing.
Overall, Tron 2.0 Killer App does satisfy the appetite but still has it's areas of weakness. To start with, while the game remains faithful to the movie, the overall graphical presentation could have been a little better. The environments seem somewhat unimaginative and the characters and weapons of the game seem slightly hazy and distorted. A little more clarity would have gone a long way with those pastel colors.
The multiplayer aspect wasn't really all that appealing either. Though it's fun to play with other players the single player mode has a lot more depth to offer in terms of gameplay. The multiplayer mode just seems to be lacking something.
Bottom line is Tron 2.0 is a solid FPS that offers the same solid and unique sci-fi experience as it did in the PC days minus a little excessive load time and minor graphic flaws.
The question is can it get out there and make it's statement with so many other big-time FPS shooters hitting the market right now like "Metroid Prime," "Kill Zone," "Unreal Tournament," and of course the esteemed "Halo 2"? Only time will tell. Still though, this a solid game for any hardcore fan of the movie and something different for all those sci-fi geeks out there. This one racks up a respectable 4 Gin gems for its unique and futuristic gameplay experience.
Jevon Jenkins enjoys all types of games, especially those where the programmer's imagination is evident. He can be reached at : firstname.lastname@example.org.