Friday, 14 July 2017

The Past and Times of Yore - Armagetron Advanced, Light Cycle deathmatch staying true to the original Tron

Release date: 2001
Genre: Arcade
Publisher: None (Open Source)
Developer: Dave Fancella ("Lucifer"), "epsy", Fred ("Tank Program"), Jochen Darley (""), Luke Dashjr, Daniel Harple ("dlh"), Mathias Plichta ("wrtlprnft"), Manuel Moos ("Z-Man")
Platforms: Linux, OS X, Microsoft Windows
Players: 1 and Online

They say that games based on movies are never good, though there are exceptions the obvious being Goldeneye 007 on the N64 of course. The tagline of Armagetron quite simply is "A Tron clone in 3D." though it was never meant to be a full story-driven gaming representation of the famous movie Tron. It was actually based on section of the 1982 arcade game of the same name by Disney Interactive Studios, which consisted of 4 subgames one of which being a representation of the ‘Light Cycle’ sequence from the film albeit in a format akin to the snake concept which the original Armagetron game was based back in 2001. The game has now evolved into Armagetron Advanced or simply Armagetronad which now features 16 player mayhem, with highly advanced AI, network game play, and of course all in a 3D environment and is available on a multitude of platforms including Linux, OS X, Microsoft Windows, AmigaOS 4[2] and OpenBSD as free and open-source software. The game also has a decent online community with a Wiki Site and Forum.

A classic game with bots
Armagetron works in a similar way to the original Tron Light Cycle match that was in the original movie, let me point out right now that this has no relation to the recent sequel whatsoever as there is definitely only one flat surface with walls, no lower levels no inclines, no spiral no jumps or anything like that. You basically just use a and d to turn left and right and use v for braking (which makes you slower but you cannot stop completely) you can also use the numerical keys for looking to the left and right and behind you. Jumping in for a quick match against computer controlled opponents is fairly daunting as you start facing each other on opposite sides of the map and after a brief 5 second timer you’re off and hurtling toward each other at speed. If you’ve seen the film you’ll know the only way to eliminate an opponent is to somehow get them to crash into your, theirs or anyone elses ‘energy wall’ or simply just ‘wall’ that is generated by your light cycle eliminating them from the game, this is most often accomplished by just staying alive but there are many tricks including ‘boxing’ an opponent in with your walls or just dueling by traveling next to each other and trying to overtake.

A basic way of "boxing" or "speed killing" an opponent
 The basics of the game are this: in classic mode the ‘arena’ is a square box The ‘Light Cycles’ generate a ‘wall’ behind you that anyone can crash into including yourself, the cycle speed is fixed at first but works on a unique concept that a cycle can only accelerate by riding on another player's wall. The closer you are to a player's wall, the faster your cycle will accelerate. Brakes are provided, but they are disabled on many servers. Your cycle turns in right angles, typically, and leaves a long wall behind it wherever it goes. By default, movement keys are z and x, where z turns left and x turns right. v is your brake control. This stuff is fairly self-explanatory, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Turning slows your cycle down. This is a useful fact on servers that disable braking because you can use a series of rapid turns to slow your cycle down if needed. As already mentioned, you make your cycle go faster by getting close to another player's wall, or your own wall. The closer you can grind the wall, the more speed you will gain.There are of course more Advanced Tactics but I won’t go into those, you’ll find yourself creating your own tactics whether it be ways of avoiding players or taking them out.

I accidentally crash into myself :(
I’ll talk now about customization, almost anything in the game can be customized though I usually just stick with customizing the area and my cycle. There is a few things abound the arena that can be changed, you can add effects such as digital clouds and mirror effects which are a nice touch or you can make the game look as basic as possible to reduce your fps. The only thing you can change about your cycle is it’s colour which includes the colour of the wall you generate and of the cycle itself, I liked to choose a colour that is not currently being used by anyone else to make the match nice and colourful hah. The graphics in the game are fairly simple as you can see, you can run the game in your desktop resolution which is good, there is no music only the humming of the Light cycles and sound effects for turning, grinding and crashing. I had some fun with changing the size of the area and the speed of the game, it seems that the faster you go the more the game zooms out I guess so you can see where you are going.

A tiny arena
A very large arena :D
Historically I’ve only really played Armagetronad at LAN parties and only recently got into some multiplayer purely to grab some footage as I always forget to get any footage while at the lan. It’s a hit at parties as it’s easy to pick up, simple to play but challenging to master, and requires almost no hard drive space and graphical and processing power. We usually play just the basic Free-for-all classic mode where you try to speed kill other players and box them in with the only modifier being the “win” and “death” that appear late in the game in order to speed up the end of the match if it has become a stalemate. When a player drives into the ‘win’ they instantly win the match and the ‘death’ zone kills any player that enters it, these zones grow bigger until there is a decisive winner of the match though they are not often used at the same time.

I had no idea what I was doing in this multiplayer match XD
There are now many more modes of play or ‘gametypes’ including ‘Sumo’ where you have to stay in a circle and force your opponents out and Fortress: a complicated new game where you need to capture the enemy base. There is also some non-combat types I really want to try including racing, Labyrinth: where you navigate through a maze to get to the middle and Roulette: where multiple players create a "maze" Then try to navigate out.

This is supposedly a Labyrinth server but it was bloody impossible
There are of course many things I have not tried in Armagetronad Advanced but nonetheless it is a great game to play at Lan parties or even when you just want a bit of simple fun. The sheer level of customization, complexity for the experienced players and reasonably strong online community add to the longevity making this game well worth putting some time into.


Some footage of me playing multiplayer and singleplayer Armagetronad including what I think is Fortress mode.

I just wanna ride my Light Cycle

No comments:

Post a Comment