Armagetron Advanced is a completely free game that simulates the light cycle duels seen in the movie Tron and Tron Legacy. With split screen multiplayer, sophisticated AI, and innovative game play, Armagetron Advanced is already a great game, and the developers are constantly working to make it even better. Armagetron Advanced is multiplatform (Windows/Mac/Linux).
The movie Tron (and its sequel) have inspired tons of hobbyist game-writers to create the various different games seen in the film as games. To be sure, there have been a number of retail games associated with the films as well, but most of these have been disappointing, with the notable exception of the 80s arcade hit. Armagetron Advanced seeks to set itself apart from the pack in three distinctive ways, and does a great job with all of them.
First, Armagetron Advanced offers multiplayer gaming goodness in a few different formats. This is a must for any game that is based on Tron, as the whole concept of the game is ‘play to survive’ so competition and elimination are absolutely a requirement. This game doesn’t disappoint in that area, offering multiplayer options as part of the core experience, rather than a late-developed add-on to the game. Armagetron allows you to join a server hosted by a friend (direct IP connection), join a server listed on the official main server (internet connection) or you can start and host your own server and submit its location to the main server online. All three of these methods offer the ability to play with your friends or even complete strangers. Additionally, Armagetron Advanced offers the ability to add your own AI controlled opponents, known as ‘bots, but more about that option later. The game also offers an option that stands out as an innovation for this kind of game. You can play with up to 3 of your friends on the same computer, using split screen technology. The keyboard can get a bit crowded with four total players on it but each player only needs 3 keys (left, right, and brake) to effectively play. With that in mind, the developers also offer the option to hook up multiple input devices (keyboard, mouse, gamepad) as long as you have the available USB ports on your computer. The split screen option means that this is a game you can enjoy with friends even if none of them has a computer. The game also offers team based play, either in single or multiplayer modes.
Secondly, Armagetron Advanced has some pretty sophisticated artificial intelligence running its ‘bots (computer controlled opponents). There’s a video showing you more information about the programming that runs the ‘bots here, but suffice it to say that this is not your father’s oldsmo-bot. Armagetron Advanced uses a set of programming codes (called an algorithm) to control the ‘bots called gLATIS, which stands for (g class) Learning Artificial Tron Intelligence System. Pretty nifty, huh? You know a technology must be advanced when they have a brand new acronym for it. the gLATIS system, basically speaking, allows the ‘bots to learn from their mistakes. Every time the ‘bot takes an action or series of actions that leads to failure (destruction of the light cycle), it records that information so that it can make a different decision in the future. If the different decision results in longer survival, that action is written to the ‘bot’s program so that it can repeat the success. If the new action still leads to failure, it will continue trying new strategies every time that specific situation comes up, until it finds a successful action. Essentially, this means that the longer each ‘bot is around, the smarter it gets, just like you. There are a ton of options to tweak the AI and its basic parameters but the best way to get decent opponents is to just jump in and play.
Last but not least, the gameplay in Armagetron Advanced is truly an innovation for this kind of game. While there have been tons of games that supposedly make the light cycle action from Tron fun and exciting, the fact is that most of them just suck. They are usually pretty boring, with little or no strategy involved in winning or losing. This one, however, has innovations that make it far more complex and interesting than the original 2D version as well as 99% of the other 3D versions, including the retail ones that cost an arm and a leg. Braking, for example, is one of the ways that strategy is introduced. While the original light cycles had no option to brake or slow down, Amagetron Advanced not only allows you to brake and slow your speed, but adds a tactical element by giving you a speed boost after you finish braking. This means that on a flat out straight run, side by side with another cycle, you will both be going the exact same speed unless one of you brakes or has braked in the recent past. If you brake, you’ll get a boost of speed to leap ahead of your opponent when you’re done. However, the problem there is that if you brake, the opponent is likely to try and cut you off and make you smash into their light wall. This is just one example of the innovations that make the game more exciting and fresh while staying true to the original concept and system.
There are also a ton of other options and features that I couldn’t mention here, due to constraints of length and space. Some of these include “Movie pack” graphics, which turn the game into a direct scene from the movie instead of the more sophisticated graphics it usually uses, “Spectator mode”, Multiple camera modes and controls, and even some different modes of play like capture the flag or freestyle. There;s more than that, too, so check it out for yourself to see everything it has to offer!
In conclusion, Armagetron Advanced is a rare gem of a game. Not only is it a decent and actually fun version of something seen in a movie, but it is also completely free and very high in replay value. The developers continue to make the game better with updates over time but even if they never touched it again from its current version it would be a great game and a big winner in my book.
Until next time, my friends!
Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux.