Tron 2: Killer App Updated Hands-On Impressions

We try out Killer App's new multiplayer modes, including the vehicular overRIDE one, which lets you battle on the iconic light cycles.

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Tron 2.0: Killer App is the upcoming first-person shooter/vehicular action game from Buena Vista Games and developer Climax. Based on last year's PC game, Tron 2.0, which itself was based on the groundbreaking 1982 movie Tron, Killer App will bring the PC game's single-player campaign to the Xbox while adding a much more robust multiplayer than was offered in the PC version. We recently had the chance to get some serious hands-on time with Killer App at a recent press event in San Francisco.

New multiplayer modes will make Tron 2.0: Killer App especially appealing to Xbox Live fans.

The single-player game will remain essentially unchanged, and it still features the voice acting talents of actors Bruce Boxleitner (as Tron) and Rebecca Romijn (as Mercury, the female lead of the game). We played around with the single-player game a bit and noticed that it translates well to the Xbox. It seems as though Climax has done a fairly good job of both "consolizing" the control scheme and importing the graphics from the PC version of the game. However, Killer App is much more than a port, because Climax is putting a considerable amount of effort into its multiplayer, which we were able to play a good bit of.

Tron is a bit unusual for a first-person shooter in that the primary weapon isn't a gun; it's a disc. Indeed, the disc is the main weapon of Tron, but trying to score a kill with it takes considerable skill. Imagine trying to hit a running person with a Frisbee, and you'll see that it's a comparable challenge. Thankfully, there are other weapons available, including rod rifles, which are machine gun-like weapons that are capable of commanding a high rate of fire. Additionally, there are ball storms, which are sticky balls of energy that explode in huge electrical bursts, sort of like grenades. The ball storms were particularly popular in our multiplayer matches, and given the game's unique, Tron-based look, there were moments where we were enveloped in a cacophony of light and color. Of course, the problem is that you have to find ammo for the rod rifles. The ball storms, while spectacular, do a variable amount of damage depending on how far the victim is from the center of the explosion.

The big news with the multiplayer, of course, is that Killer App will pack multiplayer light cycle gameplay, which the PC version was unable to accomplish. The light cycles are the signature vehicles of Tron, and they're available in several of the game's multiplayer modes, including overRIDE, which is a deathmatch-like mode where players can switch between running around on foot and transforming to light cycle mode. As such, the levels in overRIDE tend to feature a lot of open room for light cycle maneuvering and some narrow interiors for on-foot battles.

Light cycles are finally, officially included in Tron 2.0. Everybody loves light cycles.
Light cycles are finally, officially included in Tron 2.0. Everybody loves light cycles.

Controlling the light cycle is a bit tricky at first, because you have to get used to its speed and instant cornering abilities. Generally, you can ride the light cycle anywhere on the brightly colored grid of a level, but if you stray off the grid or attempt to ride up a ramp, you'll explode. Even the merest brush against a solid object can be fatal. Actually, that's something of a misnomer, because you don't actually "die" in Tron 2.0. Instead, your program will simply "derez."

Combat in light cycle mode takes place exactly like it's demonstrated in the movie, so both players trail a solid wall behind them, and the object is to "trap" the opposing player into slamming into your wall while he does the same. However, the wall isn't persistent, and the tail end of it is constantly phasing out, which means that you can't set up a huge maze all over the map. In overRIDE mode, it's also possible to be on foot against a light cycle, and vice versa. For the player on foot, it's a bit challenging trying to draw a bead on a fast-moving light cycle, but one nasty trick to employ is to plant a few ball storms in narrow passages, which is sort of like setting a booby trap. Meanwhile, the player on the light cycle can simply try to "run over" a player on foot, though the challenge is to avoid slamming into one's own wall in the process.

Another multiplayer mode is called data capture, and it resembles Team Fortress-style gameplay. Players are divided into different classes, and on the map are three control points that can be captured. The team that can capture and hold all three points first will win the match. Other multiplayer modes include deathmatch, team deathmatch, team overRIDE, disc arena, disc tournament, and light cycle. Killer App packs a ton of multiplayer content, and we're told that there are upwards of 42 multiplayer maps available to play, though some of them are geared toward specific numbers of players.

The data capture mode features class-oriented, team-based gameplay similar to the popular Team Fortress Quake mod.
The data capture mode features class-oriented, team-based gameplay similar to the popular Team Fortress Quake mod.

Climax is planning to support up to 16 players over Xbox Live, though some multiplayer modes will support a maximum of eight. Though we did notice a little bit of lag, we were told that the version of the game on display represented an old build and that the development team had made a lot of progress. Climax is putting the finishing polish on Killer App and is hoping to submit the game to Microsoft for approval soon. Killer App seems promising, with both its rich single-player campaign and its considerable amount of multiplayer content looking good. We can expect Tron 2.0: Killer App to ship for the Xbox this autumn.

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