GL Tron
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7  |  How To Race With The Programs Inside Your Computer
Darryl B. , 9/23/2005 1:56:45 AM
Tron, even though not a really huge hit when it was released, was a heckuva enigma, due to not only being the first ever movie to have computer generated images in it, but it also nearly spawned an industry of it's own with all the tons of video games that were licensed along with it, coming out for platforms such as the Atari 2600, Intellivison, a handheld game, and several arcade games as well.

Even years later, the fascination of Tron still endures, due to it just having it's debut release on DVD (and a good one too, as I heard) just a few years ago (at the time of this writing, in 2005), plus a few new Tron games came out as well, fueling the buzz of rumors of a movie sequel called Tron 2.0 (then Tron: Killer App, which I thought sucked; the original title was cooler by itself!), but it turned out that the person behind all the hype turned out to be some assistant executive producer (or something) of the original; Disney still owns the rights to Tron, not him, and they have no plans of making a Tron sequel right now. Humph; with them being in the toilet after several expensive flops in a row (The Alamo, Home on the Range [which it looks like delaying it's release for months didn't help], etc.) and replacing CEO's and all, it doesn't seem like they could exactly do a whole lot worse! But I can understand why they're cautious (but it still sucks, though).

And, there have even been some freeware games with the Tron name on it that have made their rounds on the net and all as well.

Due to it being a bit more plentiful overseas than here in the States at the time, my Australian buddy Mick sent me a Retro Gamer magazine for my birthday one year (along with photocopied articles from several other of it's mags, one of which was a Vectrex article; thanks Mick!), which it came with a cd loaded with all kinds of games, emulators, even video game endings, along with all kinds of other retro gaming goodness.

Even though it was described as "stunning", I purposely avoided GLtron for a while, due to my mom's computer (the computer I currently have is way obsolete, being DOS-only that I only use for word processing) not being able to handle a Pac-Man-type game (that also came on the cd) that would f***ing drag like hell, taking FOREVER for commands to respond, as I kept on dying big time, since it moved slower than a snail that was stuck to some bubblegum on a movie theatre floor.

Well, after going through many games that were either crap or didn't hold my attention for long, I decided to give this Tron game a try, although being in 3-D, it would probably turn out to be a bit of a [very slow running] mistake.

Wow! It's amazing how smooth the game runs; your computer's specs doesn't have to be anywhere close to being able to run Doom 3 in order to get this to work (granted, the game was made in 1999, so that's probably why). The graphics are excellent, and the sound effects of the humming of the Light Cycles and the cross between a whir and a buzz (which is how I'd describe it anyway) of a Recognizer ominously hovering overhead sound authentic, like they were taken straight from the movie.

Of course, taking place in the Light Cycles part of the movie, this is a racing game, as you face off against other opponents to race as fast as you can without getting killed (my, commuting must be FUN there in the Tron world!). Certain keyboard keys (which you can remap) will enable you to glance to the side so you'll know when to, at juuuuust the right moment, cut off an enemy Cycle that is racing right next to you and have him slam into your newly-created wall (take that, granny driver in the fast lane!). The computer keeps track of who came in what place after each race (at the top of the screen), although other than that, there isn't much of a score kept (you won't get any points for coming in last/dying first, but you'll get a few points here and there at the bottom left of your screen as other Cycles bite the dust before you in a race), any arenas or championships to win, you just keep on racing to your heart's content until you decide it's time to give the game (and yourself/your fingers) a rest.

There's a lot of features here though, as you can choose whether or not your Light Cycle will leave a path behind it as it travels (see the movie to understand what I mean), the kind of arena to race in (from small to huge), whether or not you want a Recognizer in the game (which doesn't really do anything but hover around the place; it scared me the first time that I played this, as I figured that buzzing nemesis would stomp on me!), the screen size, music or no in-game music, what kind of map you want (or not), the style of the playfield (which you can choose from many more at http://www.gltron.org/artpacks.php, some of which look pretty killer!), remappable controls, how good (or not) the A. I. of the computer cars are, what camera angle you want, etc., etc., etc. All these options are pretty cool, and for THE ultimate Tron experience, choose not to have a map and use the Mouse viewpoint (note: this doesn't even show your Cycle on the screen!) just to see how long you'll last (or not)!

This game seems pretty awesome at first, as the first night I gave this a run, I went through (probably literally!) 100 races (not that that even took very long, as some races you'll screw up, and they'll be over within a few seconds), went through it some more the next day, and that was about it for me...INITIALLY (more on this in a minute). Mick, who sent me the Retro Gamer magazine that had this game on it's cd, said that there are other, better Tron Light Cycle racing games out there that have power-ups and all, which I'll have to check those out, although this is a good start though, and my sister's kid still enjoys this game from time to time, months after I introduced it to him (I'm going to have to rent the movie now to show it to him; he should freak with giddiness once the Light Cycle part of the movie comes up!). Originally I gave this game a rating of only a 6, but it *can* get pretty addicting, as I went back to it months later (after I initially thought I was done with it)and when you've got at least one other player to square off against the computer opponents, it can be a severe blast!! So definitely try it out with at least one other player.

So, this is pretty cool, and it keeps the Tron spirit alive, whether or not there will ever be another Tron movie made.

Just don't screw it up though, whoever you are, that ends up making it. 7/10

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