Monday, 6 May 2013

Tron: Evolution (Xbox 360)

 Greetings Programs!

I picked this game up the other week from Thats Entertainment! for the princely sum of £5. I'd been looking for it for a while but for some odd reason none of the usual video games places had it, even the various market stalls hadn't got one either, so I was quite happy to pick one up for the price I paid for it.

Having read one or two reviews of this game beforehand, and noting my own observations that games based on films are generally crap, I wasn't really expecting too much from this one, but thought id give it a try anyways being as I rather enjoyed Tron 2.0 on the PC and was expecting something along similar lines....couldn't have been more wrong though, but not for any bad reason really.

Unlike the first person shooter Tron 2.0, Tron: Evolution (hereafter referred to as TE) is a third person platform/adventure/action type game, similar I suppose to a fusion between Grand theft auto and Batman: Arkham city, albeit without the freedom of movement (more on that later).

As it stands, TE officially forms the bridge between the original Tron film from 1982, the comic/graphic novel "Tron: Betrayal" and the 2010 film "Tron: Legacy" (unfortunately, Tron 2.0 is completely ignored from the Tron "canon", which is a shame because they used some of the new stuff introduced in 2.0 in "Legacy" and the storyline of 2.0 fits in sort of nicely with the canon storyline, ah well).

The storyline begins with a video clip of Kevin Flynn (voiced by Fred Tatasciore , as he is in Tron: Uprising)  waxing lyrical about the things he has discovered since he built "The Grid", including the amazing spontaneous evolution of the ISOs which he cannot explain as anything other than a serendipitous event, but one that will have profound ramifications on science, philosophy and theology once he has fully come to understand them.

The action jumps to the world of the Grid, where Flynn, Tron (Bruce Boxleitner) and CLU (Tatasciore again)discuss the ISOs and their integration into the Grids system framework. At first, the ISOs are generally accepted, as many of the programs (referred to in games as "Basics") created by Flynn share his vision of creativity and making the perfect world, however a faction within Flynns system does not see the ISOs as anything other than a menace to be derezzed.
Following the apparent "murder" of one of the ISO leaders, whom Flynn had planned to make a joint system admin alongside CLU, Flynn prepares for the official inauguration of another ISO in his place, this is where the game starts proper..

As a system monitor program named "Anon.exe", working directly under Tron, you are tasked with monitoring the proceedings for the inauguration ceremony, when suddenly Tron spots a mysterious ISO female (Quorra - Olivia Wilde ) attempting to gain unauthorised entry to the ceremony. Tron orders you to follow her, and thus a chain of events begins which leads up to the film "Tron: Legacy".

The first level is, as expected, basically a training level, as you follow Quorra around as she attempts to sneak in and disrupt the ceremony for reasons that become clear later. You really do need to pay attention to this first level though, as this games movement controls are simple but also somewhat complicated at the same time, this is because throughout the game, Anon.exe will move about the levels using various "Parkour/free running" techniques including running up walls, acrobatics, multiple gravity defying jumps etc, all of which are somewhat tricky to get the hang of and WILL lead to you getting derezzed quite a few times until you get the hang of some of the more complicated manoeuvres.

As this is the world of Tron, Disc combat features heavily as your primary means of dispatching corrupted and re purposed programs.
Your two basic attacks are ranged combat, in which you throw your disc, and close combat, in which you use your disc as a melee weapon.
The combat system is based aesthetically on Capoeira, as it involves a lot of stylised , free flowing moves with no fixed stances and lots of acrobatics, and as you progress through the game you will learn different combos incorperating ranged, melee and jumping attacks, as well as "special" moves which unlock as you upgrade your discs functions.

Speaking of upgrades, you gain XP from finding various hidden items, completing objectives and from combat. Combat XP is awarded based on how difficult the enemy (or enemies) is to defeat, but also how "showy" your combat is, for example simply standing back and spamming a group of bad guys with basic ranged attacks will earn you far less XP than wading in and finishing them all of with a nice long freeflow combo. When you level up you will be awarded with some additional memory, which can be traded at various disc upgrade stations for things such as weapon upgrades, health and energy reserve upgrades, as well as buffs which can be used in multiplayer games.

The game world itself is what you'd expect to see, large pseudo futuristic neon lit cities within the digital world, the only real problem is that there is absolutely NO room for you to explore, as the game is a linear adventure, which is somewhat disappointing, and also makes it a little difficult to find the hidden items such as the Tron date files and pieces of Arbraxis's John Glover) disc to get extra XP and unlock new items.
As well as the Parkour inspired city based missions, there are one or two Lightcycle based missions, as well as a couple of opportunities to drive a game tank.
The Lightcycle bits play reasonably well, although the lightcycle can become a little difficult to control at high speeds, but the game tank sections are fairly boring, simply consisting of driving around shooting at programs, other tanks and sometimes the odd Recogniser, all while struggling to figure out how to keep the tank driving in the direction you want it to go in.

Now, while i have enjoyed this game thus far, it does have its flaws:-

#1 - Dynamic camera
The right stick controls your direction of facing and/or the camera angle when appropriate, which is fine and an expected part of this type of game. The downfall comes though when the bloody camera angle suddenly changes without warning, often when its most inconvenient, such as in the middle of a jump or even when you are stood with your back against a wall surrounded by bad guys. In the case of it changing during a jump, players should note that this is one of those games where the angle the camera is facing also can affect the direction of movement, you may start your jump holding the left stick "forward", but when that angle changes so that you're looking at yourself from the right side, "forward" on your stick becomes "left" in the game.
As for it switching during combat, this generally means the you wont be able to aim your disc properly, and will not be able to block/parry correctly, and thus you get derezzed....frustrating.

#2 - Unresponsive/over responsive controls
You're in the middle of handing out a whuppin' to a gang of bad guys and you've got a badass 50 hit combo in the making, when suddenly for no apparent reason, Anon decides to mag-lift instead of block, or instead of doing a disc throw followed by a melee smash, he instead does a 3 disc ranged attack, 2 of which hit nothing and waste time while he recovers from being left open. The worst one is when you are trying to climb up a wall, only to find yourself springing off it instead, and all of this is caused by a very, very unforgiving control system which takes a hell of a lot of getting used to.

#3 - Intrusive cut scenes
Although the storyline for TE is pretty good, some of the cut scenes which advance the plot come at really odd times, but the worst offenders by far are the cut scenes which dont advance the plot but instead give you hints at what to do in certain situations, or show you that pressing a switch has had soem sort of effect.
Case in point, there is a section mid game where you and another ISO program are trapped in a room which is falling apart around you. The game tells you you have 80 seconds to flick 3 switches hidden in various locations about the area to open the exit and escape, all around you, large sections of the floor and walls have become corrupted and will damage you when touched, so the last thing you need is for a cut scene to waste 5 seconds of your 80 showing you that when you flick one of the switches, a platform drops down at the other end of the room for you to grab hold of when you finally make your escape.

#4 - "Knock-back"
Back in the 80s, games developers had a thing for making it that when the hero character takes damage, they were knocked back slightly. It was realised by the mid 90s that in platform games this was rather silly as it led to players getting killed a lot more often than they should have due to falling to their deaths, and it quietly went away.....BUT SOMEONE FORGOT TO TELL THAT TO THE DEVELOPERS BEHIND TRON: EVOLUTION!!!!!!!!!!  I can understand your guy being stunned after taking a hit, but the "knock-back" is completely unnecessary and just fucking annoying, especially in this type of game.

#5 - "JAFO"
Although Anon.exe takes part in the events which will eventually lead up to Tron:Legacy, for the most part, he is simply a silent observer who simply does as he is told to by the other "named" characters. His silence is also remarked upon by the ISO called "Gibson". I know that for TE they weren't really planning on making it a series of games requiring extensive character development etc, but it would be nice for Anon to do something other than just stand there like a spare wheel while the other characters pontificate.

So, all in all id say that Tron: Evolution is more one for the fans than for consumption by general gamers, it does have its problems, but overall it is an enjoyable enough little game.

Final Score - 7/10

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