E3 2002 Tron 2.0 impressions

Disney Interactive gives a glowing presentation of its upcoming sci-fi action game.

Disney Interactive gave us a demonstration of Tron 2.0, its upcoming sci-fi action game, at its booth on the E3 show floor today. The game, which is in development at Monolith, is a modern sequel to Tron, the classic sci-fi film from the early '80s, and it is set in the present day. Players will assume the role of Jet Bradley, the son of the hero of the original movie, and they must go on a quest to rescue their father from a chaotic digital world.

Since the game is set in the present day, the developer had the opportunity to create a variety of new environments based on new technology. In addition to the mainframe computer and other areas featured in the original film, Tron 2.0 will let players explore the innards of a PDA, a firewall, an Internet city hub, and other computer-based elements.

While its heart is a story-driven first-person action game, the game's soul is all Tron. The game is striking visually, with colorful environments that are immediately recognizable to anyone who's seen the movie. Even the new environments tie in well with the theme of the original game, thanks in part to the input of Syd Mead, the designer of the original movie, who is serving as a design consultant for the game.

Although the game is still in a pre-alpha stage, Disney was able to show off a number of the characters and levels, as well as some combat. The main weapon in the game will be the disc featured in the movie, although a number of other weapons will also be available. The disc will work as both a weapon and a shield, and as players progress through the game, they will learn how to customize it to make it deal area damage, act as a guided missile, and perform other feats.

For a special treat, Monolith took us up to the LithTech booth to show us some of the new visual effects recently added to the game. Tron 2.0 is built on LithTech's Triton engine, a modified version of its Jupiter engine, which will power Fox Interactive's No One Lives Forever 2. LithTech had the game running on a GeForce3 card to show us a closer approximation of what the final version of the game will look like. The firewall level is a huge open space intersected by enormous rotating hoops. The goal of the level is to teleport to various platforms in the space and line up the hoops in order to let a data stream pass through unobstructed. The level wasn't particularly exciting in terms of action, but it was beautiful to see. It was also impressive technically, with more than 30,000 surfaces rotating smoothly at once.

After the firewall, Monolith showed off some of the character models with the new glow effect turned on, which was even more visually pleasing. The Thorne character was most impressive--he had a sickly yellow-green aura that conveyed his corruption. He also has a glowing translucent cloaklike covering that let his inner power shine through when closed and opened to reveal his full glow in all its splendor.

The game has been in development for about a year and a half, and it's not scheduled for release until next spring. While there's no doubt the game will stand out visually, Monolith and Disney are hoping the game's unusual combat system will be a hit with action game fans looking for something different. In addition to its single-player storyline, Tron 2.0 will have multiplayer elements, including team-based modes. We'll post more information about the game as it becomes available.

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jakeboudville
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