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When attempting to visualize Phoenix Game Studio’s T.E.C. 3001, think Sonic the Hedgehog meets The Terminator. That was my first impression of the game upon starting, and it stayed with me for the entire time.
Why this mash-up, you ask? For starters, the android that you control, called a T.E.C. (Tesla Energy Collector), looks eerily similar to the T-800s from the Terminator series. From the metallic sliver finish of the android to its human form, comparisons to the T-800 can easily be made.
The game also plays like a Sega Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog game, only in 3D. Speed is the name of the game here, and much like the Sonic games, T.E.C. 3001 offers a great sense of speed. You will also have to platform at breakneck speeds, which can be an exhilarating experience.
Comparisons aside, your goal in T.E.C. 3001 is simple: Run through each level, while also collecting a specific amount of batteries to unlock the next level. There are 21 levels in the game, and each of these can be completed in around a minute and a half, but only if you don’t make any mistakes.
This is where the difficulty sets in, and it ramps up in a hurry. The game stresses trial-and-error, and while my level completion time might say a minute, it doesn’t calculate the time that I spent retrying the levels over and over. Certain levels that I had completed actually took somewhere around the ten to fifteen minute range, although the game did not record it. One tap of the wall, or one slip off the extremely narrow pathways, spells instant doom for your android. Fortunately, there are checkpoints scattered about in each level, which help you avoid starting over from the beginning. However, you will find that they are few and far between.
T.E.C. 3001 presents the player with unique gameplay elements. You are unable to control the speed of the android with the control stick; instead, you can only steer him left or right. Your speed is determined by green or red arrows along the pathways, and as you can probably guess, green speeds you up, while red slows you down. Each arrow that you step on, such as green in this case, raises your speed in increments. If you accidentally jump over an arrow, it’s not guaranteed that you will make the next jump.
You often have to strategize which arrows you need to hit. For example, you might need to make a sharp turn, yet there will be green arrows preceding the turn to trick you. You can choose to skip these arrows and instead run into the red arrows, slowing you down in order to make the turn. The opposite is also true in some moments in the game.
The level design is highly varied, and every level is unpredictable and unique. In some levels, you will mostly be sliding under walls, and rarely jumping, while the next level is the exact opposite. Once you reach the supposed end of a level, you have to slow down, turn around, and run through the level in the other direction, gathering any batteries you may have missed along the way.
Besides steering left and right, there are only three basic maneuvers: jump, slide, and charge. You can double jump to reach out-of-place platforms, slide under walls, and charge through glass walls.
The futuristic, vector-based art design in T.E.C. 3001 is visually stunning. You can also choose to run through “RGB” gates, which transform the color of the entire world. This has no effect on the gameplay itself, and only seems to be there for aesthetic purposes.
The sense of speed is also extremely well represented, thanks to a blur effect, which provides many white-knuckle moments. However, due to the speed of the game, the draw distance suffers, as the constant draw-in of far-away walls is noticeable.
In terms of audio, the techno soundtrack is pretty much what you would expect for the atmosphere of this game. It does do a good job of heightening the tension and complementing the sense of speed. Sound effects are minimalistic, and too quiet, even with the effects volume turned all the way up.
At times, I encountered some collision detection issues. When jumping from one platform to the next, I would reach the edge of the platform, and sometimes my android would fall through the platform rather than land on it. Also, there were instances where I died when jumping over a wall, even though it looked like I cleared it.
T.E.C. 3001 is certainly not a game for someone who is easily frustrated, as the trial-and-error nature of the game might turn off some players. Besides this, the distinctive gameplay in T.E.C. 3001 is quite thrilling, and is very appealing to the eyes. At only three dollars on Xbox Live, T.E.C. 3001 is definitely worth a look for anyone who enjoys challenging themselves.