As a prequel to the upcoming movie Tron: Legacy, Tron: Evolution places you in the role of a mute yet resourceful combatant known as System Monitor, really, that’s your name. The name actually starts to sound cool when you begin leveling up but we wont jump ahead too soon. You are System Monitor, exercising your acrobatic parkour maneuvers on the systems agents who are hell bent on preventing you from spoiling the plans of Clu (Jeff Bridges look-a-like) from system or world domination.
As simple as this plot may sound, if you’re not familiar with the Tron universe, you will undoubtedly be confused by the games historical references and Tronical tech talk that will quickly have you ignoring the story altogether trying to somehow enjoy what else the game has to offer. Unfortunately while the initial presentation does draw you into its grand neon utopia setting, the gameplay while fun is sometimes unimaginative during combat, the camera will prove to have a mind of own and the vehicular combat set pieces are almost an insult to the Tron brand.
The voice acting in Tron: Evolution brings with it the same flare that Tron fans have grown to appreciate. Bruce Boxlietner voices the role of TRON, the beautiful Olivia Wilde takes on the role of Quorra and Fred Tatasciore voices Clu 2 and Kevin Flynn. Your character on the other hand, as mentioned before is a character with no real emotional fiber to think of. Outside of his ever increasing athletic dexterity, System Monitor remains mute throughout.
During your time spent in the Tron universe as seen through the eyes of Propoganda Games, the action throws you into some rather generic jack in the box situations. After you have taken the games brief yet useful how-to on wall running and directional jumping, you’re ready to take on more intense action. Upon entering different rooms, AI controlled enemies begin coming out from select wall portals. As you do away with the first batch of enemies more waves of enemies begin to enter the fray until you’ve extinguished them all. Armed with the classic Tron combat disc, System Monitor can perform some incredibly cool and stylish takedowns while bouncing off walls with Prince of Persia like agility.
There is, however, a problem with the combats lack of targeting. While bouncing off walls executing the diverse list of combos, having luck actually hitting your target is almost comical. However, wall running in order to grab some extra life keeping you in on the action never gets boring. Eventually the combat does evolve as you upgrade the combat disc making it almost unstoppable as you near the more challenging levels. My biggest issue with the combat system is how you are thrown into each combative situation. System Monitor is never placed in a stealth situation. Despite wearing a cool black neon lit suit, it never serves any evolutionary purpose. It would have been cool to turn the neon lights out on your suit in order to infiltrate a certain computerized compound. Again, the fighting is fun despite the lack of a target system, yet all too often it feels like the player is just dropped in similar combat scenarios that don’t necessarily drive the story.
Commandeering tanks and those slick looking neon lit light cycles seems ultra cool when you’re looking at the action, however, it’s a different ballgame when the controller is in your hand. As far as the tanks are concerned, they added no benefit to the experience whatsoever. If anything it slowed the pacing down, and while this would obviously be to change things up, there was no enjoyment to be found playing tank battle. In addition, speeding your way through the chaotic environments on the light cycles could have also been a better time spent if the experience wasn’t so driven by trial and error. There really was no time to enjoy the ride for the lack of awareness before you are quickly invited to your infinite plunge down cyber eternity. The vehicle portions of Tron: Evolution almost felt like a waste of time, thank God they looked good.
Finally the multiplayer is a saving grace which hardcore Tron fans will love. If only Propaganda Games could have implemented the awesomely cool light cycle battles of the multiplayer mode into the single player campaign. Online while battling 9 other light cycle players offers the ultimate Tron experience. While everyman for himself matches are certainly great, team mode games are the most enjoyable.
Tron: Evolution has all the TRON cosmetics you can ask for, unfortunately, the substance introduces a completely different game. Tron fans might forget they are playing a Tron game and mistake it for a Prince of Persia spin-off. As a prequel to the upcoming movie there is some story here to be had, bridging the gap while offering some back story, but the real question is whether or not it’s worth your time. Tron: Evolution aside from the upcoming DLC, in its current state, well let’s just say your hard earned cash will be better served renting this one while saving the extra cash for the movie.