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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Majesco

 

Developer

Terminal Reality

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

November 2005

 

 

- Acrobatic heroine, cool platforming segments
- Unique storytelling mimics the cartoon

 

 

- Clumsy fighting controls
- Uninspired gameplay

 

 

Review: BloodRayne 2 (XB)

Review: Ultimate Spider-Man (XB)

Review: Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne (XB)

 

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Aeon Flux

Score: 6.8 / 10

 

aeon flux          aeon flux

 

At the beginning of Aeon Flux, the Terminal Reality logo pops up, and everything makes sense, Terminal Reality is the development team behind the BloodRayne games, so it seems appropriate that they'd take the helm behind Peter Chung's animated-turned-real-life hottie. Even though they have experience working with deadly women, unfortunately, they still don't have much luck constructing a particularly compelling game.

Aeon Flux begins with a montage of clips from the original cartoon, followed by a computer rendered Charlize Theron pulling off some crazy action maneuvers. The game blends concepts from both the original MTV cartoon and the recent movie -- while the look and feel is borrowed from the flick, the structure is based on the

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cartoon. Each chapter focuses on a different "reincarnation" of Aeon, and most of them end tragically. Almost all of them involve Aeon's counterpart Trevor Goodchild, usually portrayed as a nemesis, always portrayed as a love interest. Also joining in on the action are several other characters: Una, Aeon's sister, Sithandra, a crazy woman with arms for feet, and Freya, Trevor's assistant. There's also a bit of optional back story,

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which can be accessed in the option screen after picking up various entries sprinkled through the level. It's pretty clear that the developers had the fans in mind when they made this game, so keeping close to the source material not only pleases the old school, but helps keep the newcomers comfortable. The atmosphere is undoubtedly cheesy - this is a futuristic dystopia where supermodels not only prance down the catwalk but also engage in mortal combat - but it's unique, even when it can't tell the difference between "post-modern" and "goofy".

The actual game plays much like BloodRayne 2, which should come as no surprise. Aeon is just a bit more acrobatic than Rayne, and the levels feature a decent blend of gunplay, platforming, and hand-to-hand combat. The fighting is somewhat simplistic, and is a bit unwieldy due to the lack of a target lock-on. However, there are a handful of fancy finishing movies that lend a bit of style to the otherwise standard proceedings. Aeon can snap the neck of her foes, drain their life or toss them at other attackers. In one of the coolest maneuvers, you can plant a bomb on them, leap straight into the air and watch as your helpless foe meets an explosive end. Although there are a handful of weapons, the ammunition is fairly limited, so you'll usually be focused more on close encounters. The lack of an efficient target switching options hampers things further. Most of the enemies are also armed with weapons, so ultimately the combat can get rather frustrating, but the constant checkpoints and health pick-ups ensure that it never gets too difficult.

The developers were clearly fans of the recent Prince of Persia games when designing some of the platforming challenges. Aeon can dash along walls, run alongside ledges, hang on designated blowing poles or bounce back and forth between enclosures. It's all rather simplistic -- just point in the direction of the ledge, then jump -- but it looks and feels impressive, especially when the camera work shows off some of the more impressive environments. If you do manage to screw up and fall do your doom, you're resurrected nearby, so falls are never really dangerous. Aeon is also equipped with a grappling hook, which lets you scale up walls or bungee jump off certain spots. Leaping down a huge chasms while firing off shots at attacking bad guys comprise some of the few moments of the game that are genuinely impressive. The rest of the game is fairly standard - follow the onscreen directions, beat up some guys, maybe take control of a gun turret or two. It's all stuff you've done before, although it's never terribly executed.

 

aeon flux         aeon flux


Aeon Flux also has a rather bizarre obsession with ball-rolling, perhaps inspired by Metroid's Samus Aran. Aeon can send little orbs to dodge obstacles and disable traps. Similarly, there are segments where Aeon herself enters into a huge ball to roll around in, slamming into guards and running off ramps. It certainly fits in with the avant-garde atmosphere of the game.

While the visual style is based off the movie, the graphics feel a lot like Capcom's sci-fi action shooter P.N. 03 -- you'll run through stylish, metallic environments, although they're imbued with a healthy variety of color. The music is completely unmemorable, but Ms. Theron provides the purring (if somewhat deadpan) voice of Aeon, lending a feeling of authenticity for those into the movie. Although there is some occasional screen tearing and slowdown, the action moves quickly most of the time.

Aeon Flux fans have been waiting for a game for years. They've been teased with a PSOne game years ago, until it was cancelled (and eventually stripped of its license and released as the underwhelming "PAX Corpus" in Europe.) These are the type of people that will really, really like Terminal Reality's take on the Aeon Flux universe. To everyone else, this is one of those titles that pieces together parts of other, better games, and somehow still comes away feeling a little bit empty. It is neither particularly offensive nor particularly engrossing, but for a licensed property, one could certainly do far worse.

- Kurt Kalata
(January 1, 2006)

 

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