Posted 2 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
Making a game based on or inspired by a movie or TV show is never an easy task. If it was, they would rule the video game industry, leaving the Mass Effects and BioShocks alone in a dusty corner begging for shelf-space. As technology continues to push boundaries, hardcore gamers have become more and more demanding over the years, shouting for innovative gameplay and mind-blowing visuals, among other things. Licensed games have a very bad reputation nowadays. Quick projects for the quick cash, banking on the popularity of a license rather than offering something that would put other games to shame.
This year, movie goers will be invited to revisit the Grid with TRON: Legacy, 28 years following the release of what many consider to be a cult classic. To serve as a bridge between the two movies, Disney went out and gave their Vancouver-based subsidiary game development house, Propaganda Studios, the task to create TRON:Evolution. The final product? Well, it does look like TRON... If this review set you off for something epic, I apologize. Now you know how I felt after the first 30 minutes of gameplay.
For someone who grew up watching re-runs of the original movie and highly anticipating the sequel, TRON:Evolution’s premise was certainly interesting: playing as Anon, a system monitor created by Kevin Flynn to investigate the elimination of an important ISO within the world - which gets later attacked by a virus known as Abraxas - while stopping CLU and his army from taking control of The Grid. Additionally, the story will provide answers regarding Flynn’s imprisonment in the system and how the program has evolved through the years. A geek’s wet dream? I’d say yes. Still, if the 1982 sci-fi flick isn’t part of your cinematographic background nor your wish to learn more about the franchise, this game won’t be easy to understand. Matter of fact, I don’t see why any one who doesn’t care for TRON would actually go out and get it. However, Propaganda Games did manage to sum up the original story to give enough information to understand what happened to Flynn back then; potentially leading newcomers to the theaters starting on December 17 just to see what happens next. For that, the developers struck gold. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be an epic adventure ended up being something shallow, ultra-simplistic and completely deprived of originality.
I had many chances to play TRON: Evolution at different events, so I already knew what to expect. Wall running a la Prince of Persia, a weapon/ability upgrade system and beat’em up mechanics previously seen in games like Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions intertwined with some light-cycle sequences, all wrapped up in black leather and blue neon lights. Amusing and certainly appealing when you get to test drive the game for 10 minutes. However, when the same feeling inhabits your brain after an hour, three hours...what used to be cool and hip becomes old and boring. Even though the story is well delivered, only the TRON maniac will find the will to play and complete the 8-10 hour campaign while relegating the sufferings of dull and repetitive gameplay to the deepest corners of his mind.
The problem Evolution faces does not fully reside in the platforming-beat’em up style of play but on how its being delivered. First, The Grid isn’t that exciting to look at. The feel to stop in the middle of a section and turn the camera around to see and enjoy the view - of what is supposed to be unique - never comes around. I’m one of those who grew up with the movie so the unique color palette and cyberpunk aesthetics never were an issue but for someone in a different position might get tired of seeing so much blue. Wall-running, grappling on floating markers and climbing ledges are extremely touchy and sensitive actions, leaving no other choice than to watch Anon fall helplessly and wait for the respawn. Frustration will eventually arise when the camera decides not to follow the action. Just as with movement, the disc-throwing/melee combat frequently suffers from the jittery camera. Speaking of which, because Anon can take advantage of a progression system that allows him to receive weapon/ability/health upgrades and eventually become more powerful than his foes, what’s supposed to be elegant and strategic fighting tactics become a tiresome button-mashing matter as waves of enemies follow themselves subsequently.
When not fighting CLU henchmen or wall-running, the action is delivered via light-cycles and tanks sequences, which is very welcomed. Then tanks suffer from clunky controls while the light cycle moments are reduced to unoriginal “drive for your life from point A to point B” races. Would you care to know that the light-cycle can be controlled via Playstation Move? Better stick with a DUALSHOCK controller for this one anyways. Controls are simply unbearable and scream gimmick. While being in the subject of cool gimmicks, the game also supports 3D viewing.
Multiplayer? TRON:Evolution has it. How is it? Very barebones to say the least with its four modes and six maps (four maps on disk and two via a redeemable DLC code packed with new copies of the game) but still enjoyable whether throwing discs at each other or driving light-cycles. There’s the usual Deathmatch/Team Deathmatch cleverly named Disintegration/Team Disintegration, a domination-styled mode called Power Monger and a capture-the-flag variation known as Bit Runner. Of the four, Bit Runner ended up being my favorite and certainly the one people seemed to care for the most in the few matches I’ve managed to jump on. It took a few tries before finding people wandering on the servers though. Remember the character progression system I mentioned earlier? It’s also available online. Actually, its the same upgradeable character from the single player game that can be brought over back and forth. That’s right...level up as much as you can in single player and then take on the newbies online. Get ready to be “derezzed” silly by a receiving a Level 50 heavy disc right in the face. I wonder what led Propaganda to believe that unbalanced online play was going to be that fun?
Aside from the two tracks from the movie score provided by Daft Punk (The Grid and Derezzed), the game’s soundtrack was solid, but could have been better. Being a fan of the movie soundtrack, I was expecting something equal that would have drawn me a bit more given the fact that the gameplay wasn’t able to provide enough immersion. The few voice acting instances (mostly carried by Olivia Wilde’s character Quorra) weren’t too bad, but nothing worth commenting on.
TRON: Evolution is a disappointment at the same level AVATAR: The Video Game was last year. Spending time in a world dominated by eye-candy aesthetics seemed like a great idea but sadly, the willingness of presenting solid and immersive gameplay to accompany the experience was more difficult than cut-and-pasting uninspired gameplay techniques while failing at making it fun and varied. To think that one of the most glamorous, dazzling and luminous intellectual properties in entertainment wasn’t able to get an amazing video game adaptation in 2010 saddens me a bit. Is TRON:Evolution a bad game that continues the trend of awful licensed games? Not at all, but I can’t say its a masterpiece either.
+ Soundtrack and voice acting are solid
+ Multiplayer is fun...
- Mindless and repetitive gameplay
- Touchy controls, jittery camera
- Light cycle sequences (in campaign) are incredibly boring
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Release Date : 2010/12/07
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : Disney Interactive
Developer : Propaganda Games
Category : Unknown
ESRB : E10+
7.0 / 10
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