Review | Tron: Evolution
Blue Screen of Death…
Format: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, PSP | Genre: Action | Publisher: Disney Interactive | Developer: Propaganda | Release date: 07/12/2010 | Price: £44.99
Brendan Caldwell smashes the system in TRON: EVOLUTION.
WITHOUT SEEING the movie counter-part, it is hard to say whether Tron: Evolution is a faithfully realised prequel to the computerised world presented in the cinema. However, having played it all through, it is easy to say whether it is a good game or not.
Tron: Evolution is not a good game.
The story will have to be ignored for this review because, as I’ve said, I haven’t seen either film of the franchise. I was born in 1988. Even by that time, Tron looked… kind of terrible. I avoided it. Maybe I will rectify that someday. For now the result is that it is impossible to understand what is going on because they don’t take the time to explain much in the game’s cinematics.
This isn’t really a complaint. It is clear that this game is a cash-in, designed to be marketed at cemented fans and younger converts born from Tron: Legacy. It wasn’t designed with newcomers in mind, which is fortunate because newcomers cannot – and will not – enjoy this. They would sooner make arrowheads from the fragmented disk with which to shoot themselves in the thigh.
Though baffling in their command of the narrative, the cinematics are at least very pretty. They are the one good thing about Tron: Evolution, importing the sequel’s visual style and replicating the actors well. All the voices are the original actors and the dialogue is well-delivered. The facial expressions are surprisingly human, except for those of your character – a “Monitor” program who stays behind a helmet the entire time as if he has a cold sore and is all out of Zovirax. He never speaks either, and this is even referred to a couple of times in the cutscenes, providing a refreshing burst of humour. Quorra, your female accomplice, begins a sad monologue. She asks for your advice. The Monitor stares blankly ahead, forever mute. “No,” she says, “Don’t say it. I know already.” The Monitor shrugs, as if to say… well, nothing.
Sadly, this is where the praise for Tron ends. Begin to actually play the game and you’ll discover clumsy movement controls, imprecise combat, an irritating camera and seemingly endless repetition.
The game models itself as a free-running combat game, something in the vein of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. But it lacks that PoP elegance. Running along walls and hoisting up ledges is never graceful or intuitive. For instance, to reach a high ledge you have to scurry up the wall, right? But holding down the sprint/free-run button and running upward isn’t enough. It looks enough because your hands are mere inches from the ledge. But no. No dice. The awkward solution that applies (and it applies to almost every high platform) is to jump directly into the wall. The Monitor somehow retains his momemtum, gives all laws of physics a big V-sign, and runs even higher up the wall, making it to your goal.
Running along the side of surfaces is similarly ungainly. And whereas the Prince had the joy of an instant rewind to reduce any gathering frustration, the Monitor has nothing of the sort. Too often you have to track back over the same boring ground because of a badly animated shortfall. In one area, I fell down to an earlier section of the level. It was actually quicker to go find a bottomless pit and kill myself so that I could restart from a random checkpoint than it was to climb all the way back up.
All this headless chickening about is only made worse by the camera. For most of the game it is obedient and responsive as any good camera should be. Have a snack. Well done. But at intermittent points the game will wrestle it from you and fix in one place. This is fair enough, in theory. After all, it does a similar thing in PoP or Assassin’s Creed, when the perspective changes to highlight a free-running route. “Oh, look at this pair of walls you are between, player. How will you ever get up that? They are very close together, mind. Hmm!”. Ubisoft were at least canny enough to alter the controls of your directional movement to match the changing camera angle, however.
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