Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Tron: Evolution (Playstation 3)

Tron Evolution is has an interesting storyline set just before the events in the new film. The single-player mode is a basic third-person action combat where players battle foes and collect objects. There's a mix of strategy and combat as you traverse the worlds, with the ability to walk on walls and take magnetic rides over gaps. Unfortunately, the camera angles make it difficult to see where enemies are attacking and the complex controls make combat difficult. The online modes are slightly better than the main game, with some fun multiplayer battles. Unfortunately, Tron Evolution's poor execution falls short of the mark and makes a disappointing game that doesn't live up to the excellent Tron: Legacy film.

Taking place immediately before the events of Tron: Legacy, the new spin-off title Tron: Evolution casts the players as an unnamed rogue program fighting the evil Clu's attempts to take over the grid. As the player goes through this adventure, they'll encounter many of the iconic characters from the movies including Tron and the insurgent warrior Quorra. The iconic Light-cycles, Recognizers and other Tron elements also make appearances in the game. The PS3 edition of the game has two main components to choose from. The first is a single-player adventure which takes the player through an extended story where your objective is get through the levels and collect items for your database to unlock Clu's devious plans. There's also an extensive multiplayer mode where you can engage in disc-combat with other warriors online, race the light cycles against multiple opponents and battle against other grid tanks in cyber warfare. Players can also unlock additional items such as an image gallery of character and ship models, additional background information and more. The game is fairly easy to understand in terms of set-up and layout but there's an additional option for PS3 owners that allows you to use the new Move controller for a motion-controlled experience. Unfortunately, this isn't implemented as well as it could have been and trying to get anywhere with these controls is an exercise in frustration. It's poorly designed motion controls render the game borderline unplayable, with normal moves and combos merged together, while movement is completely inaccurate, making the Move feature feel like a tacked-on novelty that wasn't play-tested nearly enough. Things improve when you use the standard dual-shock controller, but many problems remain in this mode as well.

Tron: Evolution's single player gameplay is flawed, but persistence does offer some rewards. Moving around is fairly simple, though some of the wall-running sequences are difficult since they require you to press buttons and jump on pads at just the right moment or else plunge to your death. Some areas are a little bit vague as to your next objective, but you can call up your little 'bit' to point you in the right direction. Most of the levels are quite large and there are some large gaps that might seem impossible to traverse. Fortunately, the program has some magnetic abilities that can be used to propel him across these sections as well. When you encounter fores, your main method of attack is the disc, which you can throw at opponents in a variety of ways. You can aim at opponents, but you can't always target the closest one which is annoying. It can also be used at close range to attack nearby foes and also works to block shots, but the system is a bit hard to master. Disc combat is a bit hard to get the hang of, but it gets better with practice. The main problems revolve around the camera system which makes it difficult to see where the enemies are attacking from. You can spin the camera around and try for a better viewpoint, but since the foes usually attack in groups, making them difficult to counter. Its difficult to adjust the camera this while simultaneously blocking attacks, which makes things even more frustrating. Going back to the disc combat for moment, blocking shots is difficult to perform thanks to the timing issues and works inconsistently. This makes Evolution a frustrating experience. In order to help you along, you can use one of your program's combo moves which can inflict a lot of damage instantly. There are a variety of these that you can use and most require you to hold down multiple buttons to charge them up. Its best to use these from a safe distance since your vulnerable when charging them up.

Your combo moves can only be performed a certain number of times before your energy bar is drained and you need to find a nearby pod to run over in order to fill this back up. However, some enemies are impervious to certain attacks and it takes some trial and error to find out their weak spots. One of the more frustrating aspects of combat occurs when you perform attack after attack and produce only minimal damage while your opponents can nearly deplete your life bar with a single shot. You can run over power-strips on nearby walls, but you can't always reach these in time. It definitely becomes really annoying after a short time, when you find your character suddently 'derezzed' steps away from the bars. Having to constantly scramble towards these and try and survive the attacks is the only strategy in certain sections, which makes the game much harder than it should be. You can't escape some attacks, and can only sustain the damage and hope to get back to the energy bars in time. There are many sections in the game where you'll probably become stuck. The best thing to do is to keep trying these areas. Its unfortunate that these sections require you to play through them multiple times, where success seems to more about luck than skill. This approach makes for a frustrating and tedious experience and detracts from the game's more engaging areas.

Slogging through these combat sections does reward players with some additional items and also unlocks extra modes for online play. The online game has three main types which are disc-based multiplayer combat which takes place in an arena. This section is the closest to the main game except you need to destroy as many opponents as possible within the time limit. Various types of games are included with team and single player matches available. Going deeper into the game allows you to compete in light-cycle contests against multiple opponents, and while the controls are a little bit mushy in this section, it's probably the most enjoyable part of the game. Finally, you can enter the arena and battle against the infamous tanks in a combat arena where you have to destroy as many opponents as you can. Unfortunately, the tank section is again undermined by a counter-intuitive control scheme that makes it difficult to move or fire with any sort of accuracy. The online modes can be accessed directly or by using terminals scattered in Tron: Evolution's levels. While they're fun diversions from the main game, their somewhat disappointing controls make the online mode in Tron Evolution feel cheap and tacked on. These online mini-games add some replay value, but its unfortunately, not of the quality that would keep you interested for very long.

There are problems with many areas of the gameplay, but one area where the game delivers is in its excellent aesthetics. The developers have done an excellent job in recreating the feel of the movies' exotic cyber-locations. The game is very dark and it environments pulse with light energy and style all its own. Despite the camera problems, there arre some sections that look quite excellenty. Many of the familiar iconic characters from the film make appearances in the main game, such as Quorra. You'll also encounter other cool Tron locations such as the End of Line club and will see frequent appearance from the dreaded Recognizers. The game looks fairly decent and moves at a consistent frame rate and the characters in the main quest animate smoothly. Tron: Evolution's best part comes in the form of its Daft Punk soundtrack which is truly excellent and definitely sets an excellent mood for the gameplay. Unfortunately, these visual effects and polish aren't really enough to save the game itself. Tron: Evolution has all the hallmarks of having been rushed to market. Its inconsistent controls make it frustrating to play and its poorly paced levels ramp up in difficulty very quickly then quickly change pace. The game isn't as much fun as it could have been because of its poorly designed interface. In the end, this makes the playing the game more of a chore than it should have been. Tron: Evolution has the occasional moments of enjoyment, but squanders its license with frustrating controls, repetitive gameplay and a generally disappointing execution. What's most disappointing about this release is that it's gameplay isn't as good as the unofficial sequels, Tron 2.0 for PC and its Xbox counterpart, Tron 2.0 Killer App that were released nearly a decade ago. In the end, this makes for a very disappointing release that doesn't live up to the greatness of the 'Tron: Legacy' film and squanders its potential. In our honest opinion, you'd be better off hunting down those two older titles and waiting for the inevitable DVD/Blu-Ray release of the much better films to come along than playing this cynical exercise in frustration.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: C-

> Related Reviews

Tron 2.0
Tron: Killer App
(Original Xbox)
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (PS3)

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