Video Game Review – Tron: Evolution

This week the latest installment in the Tron series, Tron: Legacy (which we’ve previously reviewed) comes out on DVD & Blu-Ray. Today I’m going to take a look at the game meant to provide a bit of a prologue to the film – Tron: Evolution.

General Information

Title: Tron – Evolution
Developer: Propaganda Games
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, PSP, PC
Release Date: December 7th, 2010
Genre: Third-Person Shooter

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The Premise

Prior to the events of Tron: Legacy, the player plays as Anon, a prototype monitor designed by Kevin Flynn to assist Tron. As the leader of the ISOs is about to be made co-Administrator alongside Clu by Flynn, a virus outbreak starts on the system, and Anon must get to the bottom of the outbreak as tensions between ISOs and Basics grow.

The High Points

The game does an excellent job of immersing the player into the Tron universe. Also, the controls are rock solid, particularly in the Prince of Persia-esque platforming segments. When I died while platforming, I never felt like it was the controls fault, I felt like I wasn’t doing it right, and with a little more practice I’d make it – and I was right.

Also, the idea of having a combined experience pool between multi-player and single-player is good. It encourages players to go through the game in single player, even multiple times on higher difficulties, and if a player is stuck in single player they can always go into multi-player and play a bunch to build up XP for single player.

For all the problems multi-player has with level balance, the light-cycle maps are the great equalizer. There it doesn’t matter what power-ups you’ve unlocked, if you aren’t good on a light-cycle and aren’t paying attention to your environment, you’re hosed.

The light cycle levels in the game itself are very well done, and do an excellent job at presenting a sense of speed. The few times where you get behind the controls of a Light Tank are very well done, and give a real impression of empowerment. There’s a real kick to, after dreading the appearance of Recognizers when you’re on foot or on your light-cycle because of the hurting that follows, getting in a tank and blowing them away left and right.

The Low Points

The pacing in the game is very rushed. The game goes straight from the first appearance of the virus to CLU’s coup d’etat, and CLU’s purge not too far after that. I would have preferred a more gradual pacing, with Anon’s investigation of the virus leading up to to the coup d’etat, followed by CLU stirring the pot between basics and ISOs and finally the purge.

Combat has problems with targeting enemies. I found it very difficult to set up combos on specific enemies along with lining up shots with some of the special weapons on the enemies I needed to hit with them.

The combat in multi-player doesn’t work very well. When you don’t have a highlighted target you attack nothing, and it’s extremely easy to lose your lock on a target, meaning that in turn you’re attacking nothing, and possibly getting clobbered by your opponent (or several opponents). Also, the level difference in multi-player can make a significant difference in the more traditional modes (Deresolution and Team Deresolution – Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch) – where players at level 50 tend to heavily dominate everything. Unfortunately at this point in the game’s lifespan, the majority of the players encountered tend to be higher level.

Content Notes

Tron Evolution was rated Teen by the ESRB. There is no graphic violence or nudity in the game – though like Tron Legacy it has some rather intense deaths.

The Scores

Originality: The game does not particularly exist in a vacuum. It feeds off of the plot of Tron Legacy, and also feeds into it. That said, this is a Tron game that is fairly different from all the games before it. 4 out of 6.

Story: The game’s story is executed very well, with everything flowing organically into each other, though as mentioned under Low Points, the pacing is rushed. Also, any emotional response for the characters is muted by the fact that you if you’ve seen the film, you know that Quorra and Clu will be appearing in the film, and any of the ISOs we meet won’t. 4 out of 6.

Graphics: The game looks really good. The character animations flow smoothly together, and the characters from the films look like their film counterparts. 5 out of 6.

Sound: The music in the game is a nice mix of original compositions and pieces from Daft Punk’s film score. The sound effects are very good as well, with many of the sound effects from the film. 5 out of 6.

Playability: Controls during the platforming sections are rock solid. Controls in combat, on the other hand, have some real problems, as mentioned under the low point. 4 out of 6.

Immersion: The game’s HUD is unobtrusive and intuitive, and it goes away when you don’t need it. Even dying and re-loading from the last checkpoint is quick and explained with a little screen that makes it fit in the game. Very well done. 6 out of 6.

Overall: This is probably one of the best movie licensed games in a while. 5 out of 6.

In Total, Tron Evolution gets 33 out of 42.