Greetings programs! Welcome to the Grid.
Upon starting a new game and just before getting digitized into the world of Tron, we view a recording of a young Kevin Flynn. He discusses the important discovery of the ISOs, Isomorphic Algorithms that are appearing all over the Grid. Programs inside of the Grid that lack a set of directives and have their own free will. Flynn quickly uploads a new program and the recording ends as Flynn gets ready for the big ceremony. Radia, leader of the ISOs, is soon to be installed alongside Clu as System Administrator. It's up to this new program, a System Security Monitor to make sure it all goes down smooth. Then, the nav bits hit the Recognizer as the Ceremony is crashed by Abraxas, a mysterious home-grown virus. It's then left up to the System Monitor to ready his disc and save the Grid from the chaos that has consumed it.
The main issue with the story is that there's not much to the System Monitor making it harder for players to bond with their Monitors. He lacks any form of character making him just another silent hero behind a mask who just does what the first person he meets in the Grid tells him to do. Would some kind of character creation system or optional aesthetic modifications to the Monitor hurt? Tron: Evolution also isn't anything that is going to pick at your brain but it certainly does it's job: setting the stage for the Tron: Legacy. It weaves in well with scenes you'll see in the movie but doesn't interfere with anything enough to spoil it.
The gameplay feels similar to a cyber-punk Prince of Persia. Monitors will run along walls and leap over obstacles with grace. With the help of their handy dandy identity disc, they'll derezz plenty of infected programs and other enemies. The identity disc has 4 different versions and each comes with it's own set of devastating attacks and some enemies are weak to certain settings. Some sentries are only weak to the bomb discs while the more agile are weak to the monitors heavy disc. As players eliminate those in their way, they'll gain experience to level up and earn new upgrades for their Monitor. Players can upgrade their discs abilities, purchase perks for multiplayer battles in the grid or even purchase new versions of the light cycle. A light cycle is something every program on the Grid needs. While the System Monitor only seems to use it's light cycle to escape from those heart pounding catastrophes, he does occasionally like to get his hands dirty and break out tanks. The magic to Tron: Evolution quickly fades though.
Disc battles quickly become a game of counter attacks and ability spamming. The game tries to incorporate acrobatics into the combat and even though it does it well there's not much of a reason to rely on it. Enemies also tend to get stuck on objects and hang from door frames which makes them easy targets quite often. Thankfully the light cycle and tank sequences help provide some refreshing and entertaining moments to the repetition. Momentum can be the System Monitors best friend and greatest enemy when it comes to getting around the Grid. Trying to quickly chain a sequence of wall runs and jumps on small platforms can lead to de-resolution as the Monitor tends to move a few feet forward after landing. This will often cause the monitor to stumble or roll off ledges leading to his death and quick reboot. Other times he'll just run or jump the wrong way and that's when the feeling of trial and error begins to set in. The controls are also unresponsive on occasion. The monitor won't jump or use certain attacks when you want him to and the tank and light cycle controls will certainly take players a few minutes to learn.
If players want to fully immerse themselves into the world of Tron, they can head over to the Game Grid for some fast and frantic 10 man multiplayer action. The multiplayer delivers your standard game modes such as Disintegration(FFA or Team Deathmatch), Power Monger(Domination) and Bit Runner(CTF). While some of the maps restrict players to small portions of the Grid, others are wide open fields where the light cycles roam free and this is where the fun really is. Roaring across the Grid in your light cycle leaping out for a quick battle of the discs only to easily transition back into their light cycles again is a blast. Players can now pass through their own light trails but their enemies cannot and slamming one into your trail is extremely satisfying.
With that being said however, the light cycle battles still leave a lot to be desired. The multiplayer also puts the lower level players at a rather large disadvantage. Since leveling earns you more health, energy and better enhancements players will find that they barely even scratch the level 50 players where those of equal or lesser value drop like flies. There's also the lag that may cause players to get stuck in animation loops. There's nothing like watching your character float around on a light cycle that isn't active and then continuously flip out of it.
Graphically, the game looks the way a Tron game should and it looks good. However, the monochrome setting gives the game a very repetitive feeling as environments tend to look very similar to one another. Players will feel as though they've traversed similar ground before and obstacles during the light cycle sequences are often hard to see as them tend to blend in with the monochrome environment. It's unfortunate they couldn't score Jeff Bridges for the game but, Fred Tatasciore does a pretty good impersonation of the Dude. Another issue is that once I hit level 50 blocking would cause the Monitors energy lines to randomly flicker in and out. This also happens when the player's health is low and it can be quite confusing. On the bright side, the beautiful Olivia Wilde lent her voice and likeness to the game. It's unfortunate Quorra doesn't look nearly as wonderful in the game as she does in the movie though.
To sum things up, Tron: Evolution is just another movie tie-in. To Tron fans, it is an exciting journey into the Grid as it'll certainly expand their knowledge of the Tron universe. With multiple play throughs I managed to get a good 13 hours out of the single player campaign and managed to pump much more out of the multiplayer. Others however, will be wise to just hit up their nearest rental store as the game will more than likely get old fast and the length of the story isn't worth the sixty dollar price tag.