A movie tie-in game? Are we all doomed?
Given the history of movie tie-in video games, it would be fairly easy to simply write off TRON: Evolution as another disappointment. Let’s face it, most movie tie-in games really are not very good. But not all of them, and if there is one game that really should be good, it would be TRON: Evolution. I can think of no other movie that would be more perfect as a video game. However, just because it should be good, doesn’t mean that it is.
It has been an age since I last watched the original TRON movie and, whilst I am excited about seeing the new TRON: Legacy, I would not say that I am a huge fan. At the time of the original I was very taken with the whole idea behind it, but that was a long time ago and, to be honest, I don’t remember that much about it. A video game based within the TRON universe is something that I could really sink my teeth into.
TRON: Evolution takes on the enviable task of filling the gaps between the two movies. This all basically revolves around the attack of a virus, known as Abraxas, and Clu, a creation of Kevin Flynn – the hero of TRON, trying to take control of the entire system. The player takes on the role of Anon, a security program, and is tasked with stopping both the virus and Clu. Fans of the original movie will likely wet themselves at the prospect of being this involved with the TRON mythology and will find the story quite gripping. But for those that have never watched the movie, or like me have not watched it in a very long time, may well find it a bit confusing and difficult to follow. The story does move at quite a rapid pace, which doesn’t help things.
At least one thing that can be relied on is the iconic TRON look. Evolution does a great job of recreating the TRON universe with all of it’s neon highlights. The setting has been given a complete overhaul, understandably, to bring it more in line with the new movie, but it still looks incredible. Not only does it look like it should, but everything that you would expect to find in a TRON game are also present and accounted for: Discs for combat, the Light Tank and, of course, the infamous Light Cycle.
The gameplay has a distinctly “Prince of Persia” feel about it, with plenty of free-running style antics. The player will find themselves navigating their environments by running, jumping and climbing. Whilst exploration is certainly encouraged with the hiding of various collectables, the path for progression through the story is fairly easy to follow, with various icons showing environmental objects that can be interacted with, such as jumping to or wall running along.
But nothing is ever as simple as traveling from A to B. There will be various enemies to overcome throughout the journey, and the chance to indulge with a bit of Disc combat. The moves are relatively straight forward, with a handful of attacks involving either throwing the Disc or clouting the enemy with it, and a number of special attacks that can be unlocked throughout the game. The enemies in Evolution are a rather aggressive bunch, meaning that the player will need to tread carefully and maybe take a more defensive stance, at least in the early part of the game.
But as the game progresses, the player will gain points with which to improve their character, making combat much easier to deal with. The special abilities are also helpful for making combat easier, such as the Bomb Disc or Corruption Disc. These Discs can be swapped out during the game and certain Discs work better against certain enemies than others, making the player think carefully about their choice of weapon.
Aside from the free-running and combat, the player can look forward to some seriously cool vehicle sequences in the game. The Light Tank makes an appearance and provides some nice, destructive action, albeit with slightly unresponsive controls. The Light Cycle, on the other hand, takes to the other extreme by offering mind-numbingly sensitive controls. Each of these vehicles take a bit of getting used to, and will be frustrating to some, but offer a welcome break from the running and fighting by offering something a bit different. And no matter how difficult to control, driving a Light Cycle makes it all worth while.
That being said, the Light Cycle also makes an appearance in Evolution’s multiplayer mode, but not quite to the same effect. In multiplayer the Light Cycle is of more use simply as transport, which is a shame. There are a couple of different modes available in multiplayer, but they are not especially engaging and are by no means a reason to buy the game.
Disney Interactive Studios have done a good job of bringing the TRON universe to the video gaming world. But it is not without it’s problems. There are a few camera issues throughout the game that result in slight frustration and, whilst the game looks amazing, it can be difficult to distinguish types of enemies. The gameplay itself feels uninspired and almost “run of the mill”, but in all fairness, this is likely to appeal to the less hardcore gamers that want to pick up the game after watching the movie. It is important to remember that Evolution is a movie tie-in game, after all.
Which is something to think about. As a game in it’s own right, TRON: Evolution is merely average. But for a movie tie-in game it is one of the best. Fans of the original movie will find themselves at home in this game, but serious gamers will find that the flaws and unambitious gameplay leave this game as a time filler, rather than a labour of love.