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Tron 2.0 Killer App

A quick history lesson: classic sci-fi movie Tron was released in 1982 and was based around a hacker who was literally abducted into a computer and then forced to participate in gladiatorial games where his only chance of escape is with the help of the eponymous security program. It's best remembered for its ridiculously nippy lightcycle races and those strange Moon Monkey-style cybersuits.

Twenty-one years later and PC game Tron 2.0 is released to encouraging reviews. But it's not a game (even though it is), it's a sequel - the sequel to the original movie (that was based around a game) that was never made. And now, another year on from that, an Xbox update of the PC game is almost due to hit shelves. If it all sounds a bit confusing, it is.

But convoluted Tron heritage aside, Killer App ranks as a genuinely interesting new take on console shooters. Even if you haven't seen the '80s film, and haven't got the faintest idea who Kevin Flynn is, it matters not - any game that features this many weapons and virtual motorbikes this fast is OK by us.

Set around 10 to 15 years after the movie, players take the role of Jet (son of the movie's Alan Bradley - the original computer engineer who becomes Tron) who, yup, find himself digitised and sucked into the innards of a super-computer, which is represented via the medium of a fantastically strange looking, neon-powered landscape. Happens to the best of us. It's sci-fi retro chic incarnate - and it works a treat.

You're not entirely alone in your new cyberphere though - a computer called Ma3a (pronounced just how it looks) and a blue orb named, erm, Byte are there to lead you through the virtual landscape. The gameplay itself is essentially straight first-person shooting (except with the addition of lightcycles - more on those later). The difference is in how you utilise the multitude of weapons, power-ups and upgrades (known in the game as subroutines, just to confuse matters).

Your primary weapon is a disc, which can be used as both a boomerang-style projectile and a melee device, as well as being useful for blocking. It's upgradeable to four different forms (which, considering that this is just the game's basic weapon, gives you some idea of the overall size of the arsenal on offer) and is the only weapon that doesn't use up energy. All other guns need feeding via energy nodes ('patch routines') and pools located around each level - finding those can play a major role in multiplayer tactics as weapons' power runs down surprisingly quickly. One early favourite on the armament front is the Energy Claw (or the Hand of Death as developers Climax term it), which kills enemies while restoring your own energy. Nice.

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