In TRON: Evolution the digital world has evolved remarkably since the first movie. The programs now live in human-like communities complete with a government, laws and even more superflous locations like dance clubs. The programs act and behave much like ordinary humans. However, strange new entities have shown up in this world, entities that possess something that ordinary computer programs could never dream of - ‘free will’. These strange ‘Isomorphic Algorithms’ have become an integral part of the digital world and the game mostly revolves around them. One of the main characters from the first movie, Kevin Flynn, plays an important role in this game and even TRON himself makes an appearance. The story is meant to be a follow up to the original and a prequel to the upcoming movie TRON: Legacy, and it explains how exactly Flynn got trapped inside the digital world. Not to give too much away, but the main theme of the story is a power struggle between the programs along with threats that are apparently viruses. Players take control of a silent protagonist ‘Anon’ who is caught up in this struggle and has to set things right, and will interact with characters from the TRON universe including ‘Quorra’ from the upcoming film. It certainly helps if you watch the first movie before playing this game, due to constant references back to the original film. TRON: Evolution actually ends up being a vital part of the TRON universe, and fans would definitely be interested in the complete story.
TRON: Evolution is a third person action adventure title with heavy emphasis on platforming, or to be more precise, ’parkour’. The platforming and parkour elements borrow heavily from the 3D Prince of Persia series, and you’ll running along walls, up walls and making massive leaps. The combat system is rather generic; your main weapon is a disc with which you can perform long-range strikes and some close-range melee combos. You can also perform heavy strikes which can be altered with some cool upgrades, such as a bomb attack and an attack that slows enemies down. Then you have some useful evasion and block/parry techniques.
The mechanics, both for combat and platforming, generally do work well but there’s nothing really unique or compelling about them. The combat system seems pretty diverse but ends up being rather shallow and generic. It doesn’t really reward you for using fancy combos, in fact you will find yourself sticking to the basic combos and abusing the strong attacks. The parkour elements feel like a poor man’s Prince of Persia but at least they are responsive and work well. The problem is that the implementation of the platforming/parkour mechanics is too straightforward and uninspiring as the game pretty much spells out where you need to go, and so it ends up feeling quite linear.
The game has seven chapters, and will take around ten hours to complete. It’s a short quest but packed with more action than cut scenes. Each chapter/level has almost the exact same structure: Run from point A to point B by doing some parkouring/platforming, fight a group of enemies to open a path and occasionally solve some really easy and obvious switch puzzles. The game structure quickly becomes boring and predictable, and the level designs have very little variation to keep things fresh and engaging. There are also a few boss battles that barely put up a fight and the final boss battle was so easy that we were surprised that it wasn’t a mid-boss. The game allows you to upgrade the protagonist to higher ‘software versions’ using ‘memory units’ - it’s just a fancy TRON way of saying that you can level up and upgrade your character with experience points. There are various upgrades for health, defense, attacks, vehicles etc.
There is occasionally a break from the usual action in the form of vehicle segments. You get to drive two kinds of vehicles in this game, a powerful tank and the iconic ‘Light Cycle’ motorcycle. The tank segments require you to blast your way through enemy soldiers and vehicles. The ‘Light Cycle’ segments require you ride a Light Cycle at high speeds through tight courses, while avoiding obstacles and making high risk leaps. The tank segments are plain boring as you follow a set path and blast anything that moves, and the Light Cycle segments are too few and far between, and don’t make much of a lasting impression.
TRON: Evolution is actually a pretty sound game with nothing major broken, but the single player quest is too straightforward and doesn’t make interesting use of the ideas in place. The game is scattered with frequent healing spots and power recharge spots, making the action rather forgivable. The combat system quickly gets boring and at times feels a bit messy and awkard especially when it comes to targeting enemies.
TRON: Evolution has a comprehensive multiplayer mode in place, and we were fortunate enough to test it out at the time of review. The mode allows up to ten players to compete online and offers four game types: Disintegration, Power Monger and Bit Runner. Disintegration is basically a standard death-match mode and there’s even a team variation of it. Bit Runner works a lot like a ‘capture the flag’ game, but with the added twist is that holding the Bit will drain your energy. Finally, Power Monger requires you claim/mark energy nodes for your team. Some of the maps allow you to drive vehicles. The multiplayer modes are certainly playable and work well enough, but aren’t exciting or engaging enough to keep you hooked for a long time.
TRON: Evolution has the same unique visual and art style that the TRON franchise is so famous for. Much of the game is black and blue with a lot of glowing and shiny surfaces but of course there are other effects, textures and colours to keep things fresh. The visual and art direction of TRON has always been cool and this game makes good use of it. However, the actual graphics engine is nothing exciting, as the character models, animations, level designs and effects are pretty much what you would expect from a passable HD video game. TRON: Evolution also features a strong and consistent techno and electronic style of music, with some really atmospheric tunes and that have dark undertones.
TRON: Evolution is a competent video game that makes acceptable use of the TRON license. The single player game has its moments and some interesting ideas, but as a whole the adventure feels uninspiring and generic. The multiplayer modes, while interesting and workable, don’t offer much to get players hooked and addicted. Perhaps the biggest appeal of this game is that it actually is an integral part of the TRON storyline, and fans would certainly be interested in game’s plot and how it relates to the movies. TRON: Evolution is a competent action title that will appeal to fans of the franchise the most.
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