In 1982, Tron anticipated by almost 20 years the modern blurring of video games with motion pictures. The film successfully walked the line between dazzling and hokey, but it met with limited box-office success. A characteristically brilliant merchandising effort on the part of Disney, however, managed to cement the film in our young, impressionable minds as a seminal sci-fi classic. The movie also made easy translation into several hit games.
Now with the Tron 2.0 video game receiving mostly solid reviews, light cycle hype is as strong as it was two decades ago. And as every game release must now be accompanied by a cell phone equivalent, Tron 2.0 has paved a neon path onto Sprint Vision.
The game focuses exclusively on light cycling. This activity can most accurately be described as a competitive isometric version of Snake, with power-ups. You must navigate around a game grid, leaving a fluorescent trail of light in your wake. The goal is to cause your opponent(s) to crash into your trail, while avoiding theirs. To accomplish this, you can strategically alter your speed, use one of three power-ups (shield, missile, or turbo), or simply rely on good steering. The gameplay is simple and challenging.
Like its PC big brother, Sprint's Tron 2.0 puts you in the role of Jet Bradley. He is the insouciant, underachieving son of Alan Bradley, who created the Tron security program. As Jet, you must investigate your father's mysterious disappearance by entering the company mainframe via a new human-to-program conversion technology. To aid you on your quest, the game provides you with a luminescent, electronic guide named Byte. Byte's function is to prepare you for each race against Thorne's viral hordes, destructive creatures thought to be behind your father's kidnapping. Your goal is to prevent these cyberpunks from corrupting the mainframe by outdriving them. Apparently, viruses are excellent sportsmen.
Tron suffers from the occasional graphics glitch and collision-detection problem. Sometimes these issues manifest themselves in such a way as to pose a significant detriment to the core gameplay. This is unfortunate. It should be abundantly clear, in a game like this one, when you are going to collide with your opponent and when you are out of harm's way. Additionally, the game's difficulty level ratchets up much too quickly. Many novice gamers will be lost.
These issues aside, Tron 2.0 is a solid game that will definitely appeal to fans of the film. I am bound to say, however, that were it not for the strength of its license, Tron would not be nearly as appealing a game. As an extension of the movie franchise, it is decent. As a stand-alone experience, it is fairly mediocre.