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Tron: Evolution


In order to fill in the gap between 1982ís Tron and 2010ís Tron Legacy, Disney turned to the world of video games to explain what happened during Flynnís time alone in the Tron universe. The narrative follows the growing power struggle between Flynn and Clu (the version of young Jeff Bridges as seen in the 2010 film). The leader of the ISOs (Isomorphic Algorithms) has been assassinated and thereís also a virus by the name of Abraxas causing trouble in the system at the same time. In the game, Flynn dispatches a System Monitor named Anon to deal out some security and the player takes control of this character. Itís up to Anon to halt the spread of the deadly virus as well as throw a monkey wrench in Cluís plans for the Grid. Unless you are well versed in Tronís mythology, you are likely going to be confused at the progression and presentation of the gameís story. However, it does fill you in on the motivations behind all the characters in the 2010 film.

If you have played anything from the Prince of Persia series, you will notice the apparent similarities in the style of gameplay. Like Mirrorís Edge, you race around the Grid running up walls and leaping to new sections of the landscape. This is interrupted with interludes of fighting off orange men, typically with a barrage of melee hits or your trusty light disc. You can chain attacks together for more powerful moves and open up more of them as the story progresses. This comes in the form of new discs types that can be used a slow-down tool, a health stealer or an explosive disc. Some enemies are vulnerable to certain attacks, yet itís impossible to keep track of that since they all look the same.

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Combat is inherently boring by design and basically devolves into a button masher of sorts. Itís also extremely frustrating to make an escape and continually be tagged by light discs. In fact, the only truly entertaining part of the single player gameplay is the light cycle portions. This is the part of the game that uses the Playstation Move controller, but I canít recommend it. I found the controller to be far superior and found myself de-rezing far too often when using the Move (despite it trying to be cool looking). The other vehicle in the game, the light tank, is painfully boring to drive and the sluggish offensive capabilities donít help either.

There are light RPG elements in the game in the form of character upgrades, basically upgrading Anonís version number. As you defeat enemies within the levels, you gain experience to unlock those extras. Thereís a character tree of sorts that forces you to choose a path most similar to your offensive / defensive methods. In addition, the character building tool applies both to the single player campaign and the multiplayer. You can grind out some levels if you are great at the multiplayer and build up your character to take on Hard difficulty in the main campaign.

tron evolution anon system light cycle

There are four multiplayer modes in Tron: Evolution, otherwise known as the Game Grid. Thereís a deathmatch and team deathmatch known as Disintegration, a point capture mode called Power Monger and a capture the flag mode called Bit Runner. I was able to find a match pretty quickly in all the modes, but team disintegration was the clear favorite. There are only four maps available to play through, 2 small and 2 large. However, there are plenty of light cycles around the larger maps to take advantage of. I participated in several games that were simply all light cycle matches, tons of fun! For the achievement hunters, there are plenty of trophies (42) to earn in Tron: Evolution. Most of them are multiplayer related, but the higher level tasks require you to purchase all the upgrades and level up Anon to the maximum level. Itís a decent set that will keep trophy junkies happy.

Graphics

The developer definitely nailed the character models in the game and did a great job with the facial design on the main actors in the 2010 film. Character animations stink though, incredibly stiff most of the time. The Grid doesnít really lend itself to variety in environmental design. Even though the linearity of the levels is pretty apparent, I often got confused as to where I was supposed to be headed or where I had been. The neon and black just made my eyes glaze over occasionally. On the flip side, the light cycle sequences are brilliantly designed and grab hold of the feeling that you are riding at insane speeds with the camera shake effect. Unfortunately, the camera often serves as a distraction for the majority of the game. It moves far too slowly and resets itself constantly.

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For those with 3D televisions, Tron: Evolution supports them at the expense of the framerate. Expect to see some serious stuttering problems. In addition, you also arenít getting much with the 3D experience as the cutscenes are still in 2D and the character models donít pop off the screen at all. Thereís no depth to the Grid either. I canít recommend playing in 3D at all.

Audio

You will immediately recognize the voices of Olivia Wilde (House) and Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5) in the game narrating their likenesses. However, Jeff Bridges didnít lend his voice to the game. Fred Tatasciore (the voice for both Clu and Flynn) does a decent job of replicating the original though. Overall, their voice work is definitely top notch and makes an average script seem better than it actually should be. If you have seen Tron Legacy already, you will also notice music from the soundtrack (Daft Punk, Iím looking at you). The musical score and the sound effects do an excellent job of bringing life to the Tron universe.

Conclusion

Something tells me that another 6 months to a year of development time on Tron: Evolution could have brought a truly amazing game, but unfortunately the rushed development cycle to match the movieís release strikes again and the half-assed gameplay is the result of that. Add in the graphical problems and the developer has made it difficult to recommend the game to even the most ardent Tron fan. However, if you enjoy the Tron narrative and are looking for more storyline, this game can help fill in the cracks. You are looking at about 4 to 6 hours to knock out the single player campaign, dependent on difficulty. Iíd recommend renting the game to see if the nagging problems with the gameplay are too much for you and to check out the multiplayer.



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