Review
Tron: Evolution

By Jorge Figueiredo - December 18th, 2010

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Disney Interactive’s Tron: Evolution, developed by Propaganda Games, is a third-person action-adventure game in which you enter the electronic world of the cult-classic-turned-modern-awesomeness. With a great single-player campaign and an awesome multi-player offering, Evolution is both a fantastic game as well as a constructive way to prepare for Tron: Legacy, the film.

For those who never saw the original movie*, the gist of the story is that gifted software engineer Kevin Flynn (played by Jeff Bridges in the film and voiced by Fred Tatasciore in the game) created a number of video games in his off-hours. A co-worker stole this code and presented it as his own. In an attempt to prove that a co-worker swiped his code, Flynn tries to hack into the mainframe (run by an out-of-control AI called the Master Control Program that has gained sentience and wants to dominate the outside world) by and is digitized and sent into the mainframe itself. Flynn notes that the network is composed of programs (who resemble their users) and uses his abilities (as a powerful User -a creator of programs) to aid Tron in the removal of the Maser program. The story of Tron: Evolution picks up many years later.The main campaign puts you in the role of a System Monitor, one of the entities that helps keep order in the network. In the world you inhabit, there are several kinds of entities: Users (like Flynn), Programs (like Tron, voiced by Bruce Boxleitner), and ISO’s (self-aware entities that are constantly evolving).

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The single-player campaign plot revolves around a virus that has infiltrated the system somehow; the Abraxus Virus, as it is called, has given birth to strange new entities that are bent on destruction. On top of this problem, political instability runs rampant; one of the programs has strange ideas that leads to a potential “police state” (I call this “stolid state” – ha!). If you are worried about being bored, don’t: there are a lot of enemies to fight, so you have your work cut out for you (you won’t have time to be bored). Eventually you will understand where the virus came from and what the deeper meaning is behind it all.

The world rendered in Evolution is a wondrous place that loans itself well to a game about the world inside computers. The visuals in this game are absolutely stunning; great care was obviously taken in the creation of the look of the environments, which fit well with the Legacy movie sets, if you have seen any trailers. There are definitely some differences from the original film: it is a lot brighter and much “smoother” than the old world rendered in the previous film (this can be explained away by the fact that system upgrades have taken place); secondly, it feels larger somehow -an expansive place, the new world feels very open, perhaps making a statement to our new open-architecture concepts (in which case, shouldn’t there be clouds?) in comparison to some of the closed-systems we would run in the past.

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The System Monitor looks like one of the members of Daft Punk (read: cool). Your character is masked, carries a disc and has a basic Light Cycle. Getting around is easy: you pretty much walk or run everywhere (Light Cycles and Light Tanks are restricted to certain areas). The parkour system takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, you will be breezing around the game world fairly easily. You can perform some wall runs, wall climbs, wall jumps and vaults (which give you more momentum and consequently you travel much further than a normal jump). You can also take advantage of the “mag” function of your disc, utilizing mag points (that attract your disc) you can slingshot your way around.

As for combat: your trusty disc is your number one tool. In Tron: Evolution, there are actually multiple types of discs, each with a unique function – you will use all of these in both single-player and multi-player. Discs can be used as shields (you can even deflect incoming attacks and do damage to others), melee weapons and throwing weapons. Each disc has a deadly special function that does much more damage than a normal attack (but it costs more energy to do so). Health and energy are also not very complicated; each can be restored at various points in each level. Enemies come in a wide variety of flavours, each with their own strengths and weaknesses; defeating them is much easier when a sound strategy is employed (randomly winging your disc around won’t do you as much good in the later levels).

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The single-player campaign is a bit on the short side, but this is more than made up for by the multi-player mode. With a variety of awesome modes, you can’t really go wrong: Disintegration (what it sounds like: deathmatch); Team Disintegration (again, what it sounds like: team deathmatch); Power Monger (node control); and Bit Runner (like capture-the-flag). Some modes are all about combat with discs while others can also incorporate light cycles (and also light-tanks). It’s awesome to be able to run on foot and perform some impressive parkour stunts, and then activate your light cycle as you land. Or to speed along in your light cycle and then deactivate it, fly through the air, and land on an empty light tank. The greatest thing about multi-player modes is the fact that your character from the single-player mode retains their experience when they are pulled into multi-player (and the reverse is true as well).

Honestly, this game had me from the intro cinematic. While many complain about the character animation being choppy and the game being simply a movie tie-in cash-grab, I beg to differ, as there is much to enjoy about this title: it effectively fills in the gaps between the first film and the second; it has a short, fun single-player campaign; it has a robust multi-player section; DLC is already out, and more is on the way (extending the life of the game); if you have a Playstation Move you can control the light cycles with motion control; it has Olivia Wilde in it (as Quorra). While the action is a little bit different than what you may be used to (the discs shoot through the air very quickly and your movement is fast, like electricity would look like if it had legs and feet), once you become accustomed to it, you will have a lot of fun. Tron: Evolution is available for the Playstation 3, Playstation Portable, Xbox 360 and Windows.

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