T.E.C. 3001 [Review]
Released on August 25th as part of this summer’s Indie Games Uprising, Phoenix Game Studio brings us T.E.C. 3001. TEC is a high-octane action platformer that will have you seeing zeros and ones everywhere before ya know it. Get your nimble thumbs ready and come along for the blazing-fast crazy ride through the virtual landscape of the future.
TEC’s story is a very simple one. In the future, when energy is deficient and the world needs it, the TEC -humanities pride of engineering- is sent into virtual reality to fix things. You are this TEC.
Each level, or track, layout is drastically different from the last and presents newer and increasingly more challenging obstacles for the player to traverse. In all, there are 21 levels to explore; each able to be accessed and replayed later if the player wishes to challenge previous high-scores. To say the game is “just” a platformer or “just” a racer would be a massive understatement. It takes the best parts of many action genres and rolls them nicely into one unique little package.
The gameplay is focused primarily on collecting the allotted number of battery cells along the track designated by each level’s requirements and not crashing into any of the walls along the way. This sounds simple, but, where you’re traveling at a few hundred miles-per-hour, sliding under a gap or launching into a charge burst at just the right moment can be quite tricky. This is, however, where TEC really shines.
Both the controls and base gameplay elements are so well implemented, the player will feel like they’ve had hours of experience in only a matter of minutes. Really, one of the only complaints I found with the game is that I would have like to have seen some moving obstacles since enemies would feel out of place. Instead of just a wall with an opening you can slide under, it could be a wall that has a constantly opening and closing gap you can only slide under at the right time. Perhaps the good-old-classic “spinning tunnel” that you can run on the walls or ceilings while inside of.
The controls in TEC could not be simpler, comprised of only jump, slide, and charge; but that isn’t to say they’re not hard to master. Timing in TEC is everything. The actions are fluid and incredibly responsive, allowing the player to take on the increasingly difficult jumps and dashes as the game progresses. The layout is easy to understand and the assigned actions are comfortable to move back and forth from. Even the HUD is simple and to the point while looking great at the same time.
The graphical style has a wonderful feel to it. It mixes classical, almost atari-inspired, aspects with crazy and colorful tracks for you to explore. The techno virtual world of TEC will no doubt immediately remind you of fantastic high-speed racers of the past like F-Zero and Wipeout, but it has a wonderful flair all its own. The hero is beautifully animated as they run through the crazy and wild terrain; sliding under low walls and bashing through defense fields. The world around them flies by at break-neck speeds, never skipping a beat. The entire game’s art pallet can even shift from one color palette to the next, on-the-fly, creating brilliant effects on-screen as the player blazes through checkpoints.
The soundtrack present in TEC is a solid mixture of industrial and electronic techno; creating a fantastical virtual world straight out of the Matrix or Tron. One feature audibly that was massively welcomed was a soundtrack that continued between deaths. This way, when a player dies, they are not punished over-and-over with the same few notes at the beginning of a given song. Even the interactive sound effects meld beautifully into the groove of the soundtrack; keeping the action fast and palpable.
In the end, TEC is a solid action platforming racing game and worth every single point of the 240 Microsoft points it costs on the XBOX Indie Games Arcade. I would have loved to see either a competitive multiplayer race mode or a time-trial, ghost, challenge mode where you could challenge your friend’s ghost runs; but the single player experience stands very comfortably on its own. With replay mode to challenge your best scores and a fantastic concept at its core, TEC 3001 is definitely worth a play – or two – for any gamer looking for a solid challenge.
[Video via Phoenix Game Studio]
[Images via Phoenix Game Studio]