Friday, February 1, 2008

Armagetron Advanced

Remember how I felt like Nibbles was a bit boring, though it might have been better with multiple real opponents? Well, scratch that. There's no reason at all to play Nibbles with Armagetron Advanced available! The basic rules are the same: you leave a trail behind you, and the point is to get other players to crash into your trail, or the walls, and avoid crashing into anything yourself.

Only instead of being a 2D game about worms, it's a 3D game based on the light-cycle races from the classic film Tron. And it's much, much better. Why?

Well, the easy one is graphics. Not only does the isometricish 3D display make it intrinsically more fun (not being able to see the entire field of play at once adds more skill to the experience), the art direction is snappy, and consistent with itself. It's simplistic, like the scenes from the film which inspired it, mainly consisting of a black grid upon which are located however many players, each of which is driving a light-cycle in a unique color, and which leaves a wall of that color behind it as a trail. It's easy to comprehend, and easy on the eyes.

The sound is relatively minimal as well, mostly being engine sounds that change in pitch according to your speed, and sounds when you turn. This means you can play along to whatever soundtrack you like, and not be annoyed by constant sharp interruption. It plays well with other audio. (note: it doesn't actually feature an audio-player that you can select files to play with; I'm just saying that you can be playing music in something)

The gameplay itself is very customizable, with a full two screens of options setting everything from the number of players to the size of the field of play to the speed of the game... tons of customization is available. There are only two styles of play out-of-the-box as compiled ('Last Man Standing' and 'Free Play'), but if you want to do additional work, there are a number of other modes available. Testing them seemed outside of the purview of this blog, but there appears to be a relatively active community that plays a number of them.

There's support for multiplayer games of a relatively large size, which can be served within the client or via standalone server, and I can only assume the game's more fun when you're playing with other people.

The basic gameplay consists simply of turning, and occasionally applying the break if/when so inclined, but there are some intricacies and tricks that add more depth, allowing you to capitalize on things like proximity to other players to increase your speed.

This is another winner. As a single-player game it's adequate - no story! no story! - but in terms of well conceived and solidly executed core mechanics, it's a winner, which can only mean that it would rock via multiplayer. Who could ask for anything more (from a multiplayer game)?

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