Æon Flux (video game)
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|Release date(s)||PlayStation 2 & Xbox
Æon Flux is the video game adaptation of the 2005 science fiction film of the same name, with elements of the Æon Flux cartoon series. The game was released on November 15, 2005 in North America for PlayStation 2 and Xbox gaming consoles.
The game is set in the year 2415, after disease has wiped out the majority of the Earth's population except for one walled and protected city-state, Bregna. The city is ruled by the congress of scientists who discovered the vaccine for the disease. When Æon Flux, the player character and top operative in the underground "Monican" rebellion, is sent on a mission to kill a government leader (Trevor Goodchild) she uncovers a world of secrets which make her doubt her mission and question everything she thought she knew.
The game's storyline attempts to bridge the gap between the TV series and the film and tries to explain various discrepancies, such as the appearance of the jungle outside Bregna and the differences between the movie and TV series versions of Trevor Goodchild. However, much of the game's visuals and tone skew far more dramatically toward that of the film, supplemented by the fact that the look of Æon in the game is based almost entirely on Charlize Theron's film version, and the character is also voiced by her.
This was not the first attempt at an Æon Flux-based video game; it was simply the first successful one. Disregarding a very short-lived effort by a now defunct start-up development studio, there were two other serious attempts at creating an Æon Flux video game prior to the 2005 release.
Unfinished 1996 game
A game based on the original animated series was announced on April 9, 1996 for the PlayStation and Windows 95. The game, which was loosely based on "The Demiurge" episode, was being developed by Cryo Interactive and published by Viacom New Media. The game first made an appearance at E3 that same year, and commercial advertising was even included in the 1996 VHS release of the animated series.
Viacom New Media would merge with Virgin Interactive midway through the game's development. The merger would ultimately lead to the cancellation of Viacom's in-development games and subsequently leave Cryo without the rights to use the Æon Flux property. The game's assets were not lost however, but were reworked into the 1997 title Pax Corpus, having been stripped of all copyrighted association with Æon Flux. Pax Corpus does retain many obvious similarities to the original animated series. Specifically, parts of the plot are similar to "The Demiurge", and many design details bear a striking resemblance to examples found in the show. A good example of this is that the female protagonist of the game wears a purple and black outfit not unlike Æon's.
Unfinished 2000 game
Another failed attempt would be made by The Collective, sometime around the year 2000, and was to be published by GT Interactive. It was using a then-current version of the Unreal Engine, and appeared to be a 3D third-person action title similar to The Collective's previous title, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Fallen. Again however, at some point during development, the game was cancelled and the project vanished.
Completed 2005 game
In order to coincide with the release of the upcoming film, developer Terminal Reality was tasked with creating a game to tie-in with the film. The team was only given ten months to finish the game, a relatively short time for a non-sequel console game (especially in 2005), as it had to be out in time for the movie's theatrical premier. Still, Terminal Reality rose to the task and managed to create a complete Æon Flux game in less than a year, due in part to the fact that the developer created much of the game using an engine they had already built for their previous title, BloodRayne 2, which cut down on development time dramatically. Nine years after the first ill-fated attempt and five years after the second, an Æon Flux game was finally completed and released to the market in November 2005.
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To help add to the box office gross of the film and to sell more games, specially marked copies sold in the US came with a pass to see the Æon Flux film and an attached thank you note from Majesco Entertainment. The movie was in theaters nationwide by December 2 and these tickets expired on December 31, 2005.
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In spite of being pereceived as a quick "cash-in" of a blockbuster movie, which was reinforced by its very short development time, the Æon Flux game actually garnered fairly respectable critical response. On January 31, 2006, the G4 television network's video game review show X-Play featured a review of the Æon Flux movie-based video game. The segment featured X-Play co-host Morgan Webb dressed in a black outfit and wig resembling the original Liquid Television-style Æon Flux character. Performing from the perspective of Æon herself, Webb comments on portions of the game throughout its review; the review ends with Webb/Æon concluding that "I finally get my own video game after 15 years, and it gets 3 out of 5." — X-Play's rating for an "average" game. Most media outlets agreed with Webb's assessment, and rated the game around the "average" to "pretty good" range, some of which are listed below.
Selected review scores:
- GamePro – 3.5/5
- GameSpot – 7.2/10
- IGN – 7.8/10
- UnderGroundOnline – C+
- AeonFlux.Org chronicles the previous attempts, and includes early screenshots of both unreleased games.