Da Doo Tron Ron: Sp.A.I

By Alec Meer on November 3rd, 2010 at 9:43 am.

As everyone clever knows, 2003′s Tron 2.0 was an imperfect shooter stuffed to the neon gills with thoughtful design – both thematically and visually. As current shooters hunt for ever-more shades of brown, it is only proper to hang our heads and think of where we might be today had Tron 2.0 taken off.

We’ll never know. But we can at least play free Unreal 3-based hacking/shooting game Sp.A.I.

Deemed a third-person puzzler, it’s a jumpy-shooty-logicky affair that can lean towards the fiddlesome but largely rewards thoughtful gamers. While the jump physics/animations are currently on the punishing side, it’s lovely to look at and frequently ingenious. Made by 5 students as a third-year project, it’s a testament to how much sense of gloss and solidity a semi-abstract art approach can lend to a game with a meagre budget.

It deserves tighter controls, but you should totally take a look: not to mention marvel at the fact that Epic now gives away its latest engine for free to non-commercial projects like this.

, , , , .

31 Comments »

  1. Metal_circus says:

    I liked Tron 2.0. I really bloody liked Tron 2.0

    • Alexander Norris says:

      I own Tron 2.0 but have never played it, on account of how nothing I do will get it to work on my computer. :(

    • Whelp says:

      Tron 2.0 was excellent!

      Too bad it doesn’t run on modern hardware, I actually tried to play it again a few months ago, but no luck under Windows 7; crashes galore. :(

    • jeremypeel says:

      I did feel a twinge of sadness looking at the new Tron: Legacy game. It’s apparently too much to ask that they continue to use the licence in an inventive way now there’s a real proper sequel coming around.

    • redrain85 says:

      Imperfect? Maybe. But I still get a hell of a lot of enjoyment playing Tron 2.0, every now and then. Can’t say the same for a lot of other games. Particularly recent ones.

      Meanwhile, Tron Evolution is looking . . . mediocre.

  2. SF Legend says:

    Sp.A.I sappin’ mah sentry!

  3. Martin Kingsley says:

    I really, really wanted to like Tron 2.0, but even to this day, all i can recall, having attempted to smash through it over the course of, oh, four years and four different playthroughs on four different machines, is a poorly optimised, buggy mess of a game.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Oh my, Tron 2 was amazing. I replayed it last year and thanks to its stylized look it holds up really well — it didn’t feel old at all.

    The boss battle at the end can go suck a male member though.

  5. Lewie Procter says:

    Anyone know how to change the resolution, it’s defaulting to a low res 4:3 resolution for me.

    • Suddenly says:

      Can you do it in the target of the shortcut? Maybe width=1680 height=1050 or something like that

    • Theory says:

      Worked it out: you need to open sp.A.I\UDKGame\Config\UDKEngine.ini and change the settings for ResX and ResY. I did MaxMultisamples and MaxAnisotropy while I was at it.

      Pretty stupid how there’s no UI for that.

    • Unaco says:

      That is a bit sucky… Is it a common thing with these free UDK Projects? I remember having to edit .ini’s to invert my mouse for one (AFF I think).

    • Abbeysaurus says:

      Hey there, I’m one of the artists who worked on Sp.A.I. You can either edit that .ini file or simply hit the ` key and type SETRES 1440x800x32 (or whichever resolution you’d want) We didn’t have time to implement any of it in an options menu (and we did get a lot of requests to do so) because it started off as an academic project at uni and it had to come along with all those pointless academic requirements which do nothing but waste time and slow down development.

      Having said that, now that we have washed our hands clean of uni, we decided to go back to the drawing board and take this game further. But in the meantime, we will release an update soon which will include a few bug fixes and custom video settings. So keep a look out for the update

  6. Chris says:

    Tron 2.0 was great. I still have it installed.

    You can force it to run at widescreen resolutions with a quick cfg file hack (just Google it), but it doesn’t render natively, it just stretches the image. A poor substitution, but either way I think the game is still worth playing.

    All that being said, Sp A.I. looks neat.

  7. Mike says:

    This is fantastic! Absolutely loving this. Would easily pay for a fuller, bigger game using these ideas.

  8. Vitamin Powered says:

    Man, Tron 2.0 was amazing. I gave it away in the game swap at OneLifeLeft’s Christmas thang sadly (though I forgot to include one of the discs, so now there’s two people who can’t play it)

    I loved the feel of that era’s Lithtech games; Monolith had a way of making the world feel really solid.

  9. jeremypeel says:

    It’s true Epic are doing a lot to help indie devs these days. And they don’t shout about it either.

    Shame about Gears of War really; otherwise we could be friends.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I sense a proper PC game coming from Epic in the next few years though. Microsoft are claiming they are giving PC more support and an exclusive, shiny game is coming our way. It would make sense for Microsoft to use Epic for that.

  10. Lobotomist says:

    Tron 2.0 was great.

    It was done by same team that did “Nobody Lives Forever”

    I am sure it is better than the upcomming film

  11. Arathain says:

    Yup, another vote for Tron 2.0 being wonderful. The setting was used to the hilt to rethink a lot of FPS conventions, with notable success, and the visual splendour really contributed to the feel.

    The things I’ve seen, man… virus corruption tearing the fabric of reality, the onrushing black of a server shutdown, the majesty of the firewall…

  12. Premium User Badge

    Gabbo says:

    I always felt Tron 2.0 was a little short, and remember staring at my monitor in disbelief when I initially beat it, but I still had a ton of fun playing it. Oh how I wish miss the days when Monolith were at the top of their game, rivaling the giants of the shooter genre….

  13. Adam T says:

    Did anyone else really love the sound design in Tron 2.0? I remember hearing the metallic *bonk bonk bonk* of footsteps and every time being like “awww yeah I’m in yo computer!”

    Will have a look at this one when I’m not at work…

  14. Tyler says:

    That headline was brilliant. (Y’know…as far as these things go.)

  15. dragon_hunter21 says:

    Am I the only one that will forever pronounce the name of this game as “SPAH”, like the TF2 engineer?

  16. Madjack says:

    I actually wasn’t that impressed with Tron2.0.

    Disc combat should have been a balletic symphony. Instead you pumped your disc in-out from your chest like a wanker. And unless I missed something, getting caught between two enemies usually meant insta-death early on.

    Each level was a tedious keyhunt.

    The level graphics were spot on, but most levels appeared to be disconnected boxes..This meant there was little sense of moving across a vast, inter-connected digital landscape ala Tron.

    Tron made an appearance as some sort of mummified code fragment AND THEN YOU KILLED HIM. Let me repeat that; AND THEN YOU KILLED HIM! WTF???. ARGGHH! Seriously?? Ok – he was some sort of monster at this point, but could they have crapped on the Tron legacy any more than this?

    Alan Bradley makes it into the digital world. Wonderful! But then the game does nothing with him. Instead he’s told to go stand in the corner. Like a dunce. He at least should have met Tron. Obvious. Kill Tron off after that if you like, but have him meet his creator first. Missed opportunity.

    The infection threat was an interesting plot arc and it should have been the resolution of the story. Instead three new characters are suddenly introduced at the very end. Eh? Where did they come from? And why am I fighting them again? Don’t introduce critical characters in the last fith of a story just because you want another boss battle.

    All this left me suspecting they asked the programmers to come up with the storyline rather than hire a writer.

    • redrain85 says:

      Sorry, but I have to correct you on a couple of points.

      SPOILER ALERT

      How did you draw the conclusion that Tron was “killed”? That’s not what happened. His code merged with Ma3a for a while, and later Alan removed the correction algorithms and Tron Legacy Code again. He’s still “alive” by the end of the game, but in dormant form.

      As for the “three new characters” suddenly introduced: they were there right from the beginning. They’re in the opening cutscene. They’re the ones that kidnapped Alan, remember? And they appear in more cutscenes throughout the game. Those characters are not foisted upon the player at the last minute, like you seem to think.

      As for the rest, I can’t argue with those points because either you’re right or it’s a matter of personal opinion.

      Oh, and I forgot to mention before that Sp.A.I. looks more imaginative than the upcoming Tron game. Definitely intend to try it out. That’s part of what I liked so much about Tron 2.0, it gleefully delighted in engaging the player inside the film’s subject matter of a pure abstract, fantasy world. We could use more games like that. Rather than the latest war action game trying to simulate reality with the latest shaders, bump mapping, tesselation, physics, and so on, ad nauseum.