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It’s been close to 30 years since the world was first exposed to the sprawling terminus of Tron. The world has endured through popular culture and has even managed to spawn a hugely popular sequel, Tron: Legacy. Tron Evolution is intended as a bridge between the two movies, filling in some of the finer points of the struggle between Basics and ISOs. The concept is an intriguing one, but the game falls short in almost every conceivable way.
You take on the role of a recently made program known only as the System Monitor. You are responsible for keeping bad things from happening, and only minutes after your integration, some bad things happen. The system is quickly becoming infected and a villain named Abraxas is behind it. After Abraxas appears to have killed both Flynn and Tron, you go on the chase.
Tron: Evolution looks very outdated, with very static models and an almost mannequin quality to the facial animations; everyone has the appearance of getting just a bit too much botox. This leads to the interactions in the cutscenes leaving you bored and unfulfilled. Your character clearly draws some inspiration from the member of the group Daft Punk, sporting a slick leather-esque suit and what is basically a tinted glass helmet. The System Monitor is also the generic silent protagonist. Instead of implementing an interesting character you are given a blank avatar with no face and no emotions. The events that should be key in the game fail to resonate because your character can only communicate through awkward gestures, leading to a complete breakdown of the game’s significance in the Tron timeline.
The environments look the same, which is to be expected, but tends to make the campaign run together into an unintelligible mess. The System Monitor controls as if he was hiding bricks in his costume. He can only jump a very limited distance and while wall running and vaulting he plummets like a comet from the heavens if you happen to touch the jump button a little too early. Most of the game’s platforming sections are trial and error and you will die at least 3 or 4 times in-between checkpoints, but luckily there is not a shortage of checkpoints.
Tron: Evolution plays like a poor man’s Prince of Persia and functions pretty similar in most respects, with the main exception being the thousand pound weights attached to the protagonist’s legs. Combat functions relatively well, but you can almost exclusively tap the X button over and over and take out the majority of the enemies in the game. Occasionally you will be confronted with a few enemies that have a very specific method to destroying them, but these instances are sparse until the last couple of levels in the game, which can be reached in the matter of a few hours due to the game’s short length. The game lasts about 6 hours including the dozens of times you will randomly fall to your death. This is just enough time to avoid any severe aneurysms that might have otherwise developed had you been forced to suffer through this mess of bad platforming and worse combat.
There is a single saving grace to this game and it is the multiplayer. You have the basic Capture the Flag and Deathmatch variations as well as a couple of light cycle modes. It is really better to stick to the former variations because the light cycles control like a fat kid on a unicycle. There are a limited number of maps, but that has recently been remedied by a downloadable map pack, helping to stave off the stagnation of the only salvageable part of the Tron: Evolution experience.
Tron: Evolution had the opportunity to break the mold of the conventional movie game by avoiding the movie altogether. However, it still shows evidence of the same flaws that plague games that accompany movies. It is too short, feels rushed, and lacks the same flair that the grid used to have, instead, replacing the bright vibrancy for a rather dull, low-res wreck. There is still something mildly endearing about heading back to the grid, but if you are only a casual fan of Tron this may not be worthy of your time.