T.E.C. 3001

Sigh.  I really thought I was going to love T.E.C. 3001.  It just looked so fun and polished.  Stills of the game don’t do it justice.  In motion, it’s really a sight to behold, almost like you’re running through the world of Tron.  And the early buzz on Twitter from the usual gang of idiots (Mad Magazine) is that it was the single greatest achievement in the history of gaming and milestone for Xbox Live Indie Games.

Of course, T.E.C. is none of that.  It’s a barely controllable reflex-tester starring a robotic Sonic the Hedgehog wannabe.  Yea, it’s pretty, but calling this “great” devalues the word to such a degree that the ghost of Ivan III is now going to personally haunt every single person that would label it as such.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In T.E.C. 3001 you play as a robot that has to run around collecting batteries.  In order to clear each stage, you have to get a minimum number of batteries before reaching the goal.  I’m not sure why they bothered with this aspect.  It wasn’t until very late in the game that I actually missed the target amount, and I only failed at this once.  It seems kind of tacked on and not really necessary.

Running is handled automatically.  All you do is dodge left and right, jump with A, and slide with B.  Unfortunately, the controls fail the player more often than not.  T.E.C. is designed in a way that requires the utmost precision for all movement and jumps, but you’re not provided with anything resembling smooth and responsive controlling at all.  Your robot dude moves too damn fast, yet he handles like a shopping cart.  Thus, you’ll spend the majority of the game running off ledges or crashing into pillars.

You also have a double jump that can be a bit on the fickle side.  Sometimes it just didn’t want to work, almost at random it seemed.  I would jump and wait until I was on a slight downward arc before jumping again and it would work.  Then I would die and have to start over.  I would try the same exact move, in the exact same spot, pushing the button for the double jump at what sure as hell seemed like the same moment I previously used it, and watch nothing happen except my dude fall to his death.

Still, I’ve played games that handled less than well but still managed to have a good time.  And early on, that was the case with T.E.C. 3000.  I immediately recognized that controlling would be an issue, but the amazing aesthetics and lightning-fast game play were sure to make up for it.  And then, about four levels into the experience, I realized that everything from that point forward would revolve around trial-and-error game play so unforgiving that there would be no room left for fun.  Allow me to walk you through a hypothetical level of T.E.C.

Start the level, avoid a pillar that you see, hit the pillar you couldn’t possibly see behind it.

Start the level over, avoid a pillar that you see, avoid the pillar you know is behind it, hit the barrier you couldn’t possibly see behind it.

Start the level over, avoid a pillar that you see, avoid the pillar that you know is behind it, jump over the barrier you know is behind that, hit the larger barrier you couldn’t possibly see behind it.

Start the level over, avoid a pillar that you see, avoid the pillar that  you know is behind it, jump over the barrier you know is behind that, slide under the larger barrier you know is behind that, fall into a gap you couldn’t possibly see was there.

Does that sound fun to you?  Because it sounds tedious and archaic to me.  Games like this died out years ago for a reason: because they’re boring and people quit paying to play them.  With the absurd levels of speed your dude runs, there’s just no margin for error here.  They tried to make up for it by adding a decent amount of checkpoints in each stage, but it doesn’t help.  Clear one memory-testing section of obstacles, start a new one.  Yippee.

T.E.C. 3001 feels more like a concept build for something that, with the right amount of time and finesse, could be amazing.  The graphics are among the best I’ve seen on the Xbox Live Indie Game market so far, and the idea of an insanely quick robot running through a neon-coated futuristic wonderland is pretty cool.  But the stop-and-go nature of its game play negates the entire speed gimmick, and the controls kill off whatever pleasure remained.  T.E.C. has style, but the only substance found is a cocktail of bad controls and level design that tastes like fecal matter.

Oh and before I go, I want to set the record straight on something: I don’t troll.  If a game sucks, I say it.  If I enjoy it, I say it.  My standards aren’t even particularly high.  I have no bias against any developer, person, or genre.  I just want to have fun with a game that I purchase with money out of my pocket.  If I don’t have fun, I’m not afraid to say it.  If that rubs you the wrong way, I don’t know what to say except put on some pom-poms and a miniskirt because you are nothing but a cheerleader.

T.E.C. 3001 was developed by Phoenix Games

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15 Responses to T.E.C. 3001

  1. Dcon6393 says:

    That basically sums up how my playing of the first 5 levels went. I hoped at some point that I would get a hang of the controls and be able to dart through levels. Probably only after 5 hours of play though

    • Kairi Vice says:

      Unless you’re willing to dedicate your immediate future full-time to memorizing levels, there is no chance anyone is going to be darting through anything in TEC. The controls are not responsive enough to allow for quick reflexes to work. By time you spot something that is going to kill you, it’s already too late. You have to be reacting to stuff you haven’t even seen yet.

      • Dcon6393 says:

        yeah, thats how the first few level went. After I beat the fifth level (first I missed the final gate, so I didn’t finish, that doesn’t make any sense) I went back to CTDV

  2. Kyle Lock says:

    I honestly would politely disagree. I didn’t find myself having too much trouble getting through the levels at all. I blazed through the tutorial levels and found myself having a blast through every Tron inspired level to proceed them. I’ll agree that there are a few glitches, framerate problems and some cheap spots where you’re going to mess up the first time or two when you play, but near the end of the game I found myself flying through them without a second thought. Maybe I just got extremely accustomed to it and “have cat like reflexes and speed” (Tommy Boy reference). Either way, I am still playing it and can’t put it down. I’ll be releasing my full review of it soon over on VVGTV along with a special video to accompany it so stay tuned!

    • I have to agree with Kyle. I felt like this was a really competent, fun, and responsive game. I have not finished it but I have played throuh enough of the levels to have a clear concept of the game. I haven’t had any issues with the double jump and I am really loving the difficulty of this game. It does certainly require some serious reaction timing and it can be frustrating when I don’t stick a landing right the first time or the 20th. But i can’t hold my own personal troubles against the game. That being said your opinion is certainly valid, my experience with the game it seems, just hasn’t been the same.

  3. “but near the end of the game I found myself flying through them without a second thought.”

    Seriously? I don’t think we played the same game. I died more 50 times per level when reviewing it at Armless Octopus I think I stuck with it and enjoyed the initial challenge more than Kairi did, but by around level 10 I was spent, and I trudged through 3 more.

    • Kyle Lock says:

      haha I’ve always been a pretty big fan of Sonic and even though I haven’t been happy with some of the later entries (However I think Unleashed had some merit during the day levels) I’ve always seemed to have pretty quick reflexes on those kinds of things. I’ll actually be releasing a special episode of “Xpert Replay” on my youtube channel to accompany my review of T.E.C. 3001 to show that within a day I could perfect all the levels. (I’ll be playing through the final four levels of the game) It only took me maybe an hour or two to get through the whole game. I also have a pretty high level of patience so I don’t get frustrated very easily, so that could very well have contributed to my ability to keep playing and not think it to be a big deal.

  4. Starglider says:

    Perhaps the environment design should have strong visual clues to alert you to the upcoming hazards? With practice you’d be reacting to those instead of having to learn the hazards by trial and error.

  5. Pingback: The Cusp: 2011 Indie Summer Uprising Retrospective « Indie Gamer Chick

  6. Elohim says:

    I think people need to realize the kind of game this is: A fast twitch trial and error plat-former that goes back to the days when games were actually difficult, it requires time and yes memorization to master. but what’s wrong with that? I am in my mid-twenty’s and even I understand that this game makes you EARN your bragging rights. I also understand this game won’t appeal to everyone but it is not a valid reason to discredit it and give it a bad review. You have to view it within context of its game type. You say those games died out because they are boring and no one plays them anymore. THAT is a GROSS ASSUMPTION. I LOVE those games and I know many a gamer that also appreciates that game type. Games today are so easy, so streamlined, which has of course created a much broader base and increased demand (and has made gaming mainstream), but let us remember that games used to be a niche, and to call yourself a gamer actually meant something, I used to be the king of a little old fighting game called Killer Instinct and I had every character’s move list memorized in my head and no one could touch me. I earned that by pouring time into it, and you know what? IT FELT AWESOME, so while I understand why you might not like the game, just because it requires effort to master does not mean it sucks. I have just bought this game and it is a bargain for the its measly 240pts price. Not to mention the game isn’t nearly as crazy hard as you make it sound. Plus when you have a light-bulb moment (example: if you slide you can turn more sharply) and you start to use that trick you learned to get beat a level or shave a few seconds off the clock, IT FEELS AWESOME, plain and simple because no one told you how, you had to learn the nuances of the game yourself and are a better player because of it. AND THAT is one of the things that I miss most in today’s games, its just to damn easy.

  7. cheftracy says:

    Just because you aren’t good at a game does not mean that it is a poor game. I died within minutes of entering the world of Fallout 3, however I did not write it off simply because I couldn’t handle the mechanics.
    As someone who has beaten T.E.C. 3001, the bonus levels, and most of the achievements, this game is one of the most addictive, thrilling and entertaining works of art that I have ever seen. The level of complexity and variety in the puzzles as well as the fine-tuned mechanics within each obstacle surpass any other platformer I have played, and approach games such as Portal 2 in their level of sophistication.
    There is no fault in T.E.C.’s mechanics besides your own ineptitude and poor reflexes. Considering you only got to level 5, I am not surprised by your eagerness to give up and write this game off.
    I assure you, the early reviews from the “usual gang of idiots” were on point. Even ignoring it’s extremely cheap price, this game is easily one of the greatest buys you can make. Hours of addictive and entertaining gameplay that continue to surprise you and test your limits.

  8. Thats a shitty review. You only got to level 5? Out of 30+ levels? You either didnt try or youre a poor gamer. The controls are fine in this game. Double jump? In every game there is a time limit on that. Comparing tec to sonic is lame. Sonic hasnt been interesting since sega cd. I suppose if one is used to playing games like black ops, with such shallow game play, tec isnt for you. This game tests your memory and reflexes at high speed. So if youre dull that means the game is bad? Its a game of thinking, timing, and perfection, not a hack n slash or point n shoot. I havent enjoyed a game this much in 10 years. As for the controls……xbox analog sticks ARE pressure sensitive. Remember? I didnt have any trouble with tec until level 18. Die 50 times in one level!? Really? Poor reflexes. Hidden pillars? Not if you pay attention. Prompts to tell you where to go and what obstacles? Are you people even looking at the screen? The big flashing arrows do a good job at giving a heads up. When running toward a wall with a downward arrow on it you should know to slide under. I understand most people dont want games that require thinking but seriously, at least dont bash it. Im sure the shotty game play and cliche story lines of simpleton games like gta and call of duty are awesome in your mind but, wait a minute, those have violence and profanity….thats all it takes to make a game Worthy of 5 stars these days. Shallow. for those who want a real challenge instead of buttery violence, give tec a shot. Its worth it. Comparing the game play of TEC 3001 to most main stream g ames is like comparing a rubicks puzzle cube to a petaminx puzzle dodecahedron . For thise familiar with the dodecahedron puzzles, why settle for a simple rubicks when you can have a real brain stimulation instead? Tec is for real gamers, not rubicks cubes who cant handle a little brain exercise.

    • It’s worth noting that I reviewed this game two years ago. It’s undergone a lot of patching since then, which might cleared up a lot of problems the game originally had. The developers never asked for a second chance review (all games I review get a second chance upon request) so I never went back to it. But any experience I talk about in any of my reviews is an actual gameplay experience. At the time it was released, TEC was part of an XBLIG promotional event and I believe the game released before it was really ready to be so as to be included in the event. The version I played was clearly unfinished.

      By the way, as a good rule of thumb, accusing someone who doesn’t like your favorite indies as being some kind of mainstream-obsessed idiot makes you come across like an incredibly artsy hipster and fart-sniffer. It’s hard to take anyone seriously when their best argument for why a review is wrong is “you must like Call of Duty.”

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