The original Tron film came out in 1982, when computers were large â€śmainframesâ€ť and the PC was just starting to infiltrate the home market. The film itself did okay but not many people appreciated or understood the story and it was not until later that it developed a cult following. It did spawn a couple of games, however, most notable (and favourably received) of which was Tron 2 on the PC (2003). In addition to the games, the film also spawned a comic series and cartoon. With the release of Tron Legacy, it is no wonder that Disney wanted to take the opportunity to release a game based on it.
Titled Tron Evolution, the story is version 1.5 and set prior to events of Tron Legacy. It is based on Anon, a new security program sent to determine the events leading up to the second movie, and his battle to fight a virus within the Grid. For fans of the movie the story helps flesh out the intervening years of the Grid.
For those unfamiliar with the story, it is about Isomorphic Applications and Programs (ISOs). The concept is that applications and programs are alive. Your computer is no mere machine but a world where what you input takes shape and form. You would expect that these beings would reflect their programs. Anti-virus would be guys in hazmat suits, torrent applications would be a motley crew of good natured pirates, game programs a bunch of rough men with an assortment of weapons and funny hats, while the Microsoft guy would be an overweight paper clip that talks really loudly. But no, in the TRON universe everyone looks like an athlete and wears sleek rubber suits with neon highlights.
The game has three distinct phases that repeat through its near 8 hours of game play. There is the platform game, where you have to move about the grid by making impossible leaps and jumps; the combat phase where you fling disks at the opposition, and race sequences on the Tron bike or tank. These repeat at a steady pace throughout the game and although opponents get tougher and more numerous, there is little variation on this formula.
What really let the game down, however, are the unforgiving controls. To move about, the player simply pushes the left control stick in the direction they want to go. To vault impossible gaps? Merely go forward with the right trigger pulled. To jump, just hit the â€śAâ€ť button. Simple enough, then. So to jump a gap, scurry across a wall and leap to your right requires various combinations of all three. Unfortunately, the movement system is very unforgiving, with the slightest direction change resulting in a wild swing, and jumps that have to be timed just right or you fail. The level of precision at times feels almost impossible.
Failure does not result in death but â€śdecompileâ€ť or â€śderezzâ€ť, where you dissolve into bytes. Where this really falls down is some of the jumps and wall walks are really difficult to execute. The automated save points are frequent but they are often set at a point where you struggled on one of the harder manoeuvres, so you have to repeat it all again.
Combat is exciting and is an exercise in button mashing, rather than any real strategy. The AI of enemies is such that they tend to be easy to beat if you keep moving. As you progress in the game you gain â€śmegabytesâ€ť that you can use to upgrade your â€śdiscâ€ť to not just a slicer weapon, but also a version that explodes or return health. The targeting system is automatic and largely controlled by the game, with the player interaction being that the direction you are facing is where your target will jump to. What is good is how you can do spectacular leaps and bounce discs off the walls and objects. Itâ€™s fast and furious.
Multiplayer gives you the opportunity to earn more megabytes that you can then apply in your singleplayer game. Limited to 10 players, these can be played both with human or bot opponents. The latter lack the AI to be any real challenge, however.
The graphics are great and pay tribute to the movie, with neon blue featuring in abundance. The putrid green/yellow infection areas jar you with a sense of disease, as do the similarly coloured ISOs that erupt from these areas of infection. The action is smooth and slick, while the interwoven movie sequences work well. The use of some great voice acting and the music of Daft Punk amongst others, is icing on the cake of what is a well-crafted game environment.
As a movie franchised game, it is better than most but the lack of variety and often difficult controls stop it from being a classic game. Did we like it? Yes, despite its frustrations, it was good to play inside the Grid once again, and there is enough of an homage to both the new and old movies to appeal to all Tron fans.