12.13.2010

Jump Around


Recently, I've been playing Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.  I've progressed almost to the end of that game, but decided to put it down for the next week so I could play Tron: Evolution before the new Tron movie comes out.
Let me start off by saying that I think both games are pretty good.  But it has been fascinating playing both games so close to one another because they are so similar and so incredible disparate.  While they are both essentially 3rd person action platformers, the way they go about the business of platforming couldn't be more different.

Enslaved got a lot of guff (undeservedly, in my opinion) for "holding the player's hand" and not allowing the player to jump to their death.  When you're running on a ledge and reach the edge, you don't fall off.  It triggers an animation of your character stumbling to a stop rather than falling to his death and reloading from the nearest checkpoint.  Also when jumping form hand-hold to hand-hold, you can't jump in the wrong direction (Uncharted 1 & 2 did this too). 

In Tron, on the other hand, the character's parkour-inspired actions lend to lots of freeform movement, just like in Enslaved.  But unlike Enslaved, you can easily (and frequently will) jump off any and all platform, undershoot jumps, jump the wrong way off of a hand-hold and plummet to your death, etc.

After playing Enslaved for so long, my first couple hours with Tron were extremely trying.  The ability to die in Tron also shot a hole through the argument against Enslaved's biggest criticism.  It's the same criticism that was leveled toward Prince of Persia (2007).  That preventing you from dying is in some way a cheat and that it makes the game less fun.
If anything I think it makes the game more fun. 

I like Enslaved's traversal system, because it's fast and you always know which way is the right way to go.  You can hammer on the X button until you get across the gap or up the cliff.  You can still die, but you don't have to worry about screwing up a bad jump or trying to go the wrong way because the camera wasn't in the right position.  You can also more enjoy the amazing work that went into animating the character.

In Tron, on the other hand, I find myself constantly dying, but the consequence of dying is almost as low as Prince of Persia (2007) because of the frequent checkpointing.  After playing it for a while, I finally understand the nuance of the controls and I genuinely like the game, but something as simple as an invisible guard rail to keep me from accidentally falling off a platform would have gone a very long way in making the game much more likable to me.