Welcome to the Grid, program.

As promised, my review of Tron: Evolution for the PS3.  Set before the events in the new movie Tron Legacy, this game tells the story of Anon, a Monitor program created by Flynn to investigate the murder of the leader of the ISOs.

Let’s start out with a trailer for the game.

So as you can see, this is a pretty game.  A VERY pretty game.  The graphics in this game are slick and everything just shines.  In addition, bits of the Daft Punk soundtrack from Tron Legacy make it into this game as well as other new original bits of music that work really well also.  Unfortunately, even with these graphics, good music, and somewhat interesting story, I was unable to complete the game.  Why you ask?  Basically the controls are all but broken.  The main sections of the game equip you with a light disc and send you off in the grid fighting corrupted programs and the combat works pretty well.  Fighting with the light disc, you can perform close quarters melee attacks as well as throw your disc around.  In addition, you can level up your character, obtaining new abilities and new types of light disc to help in your fight and things get interesting as new enemies require certain light discs or types of attack to kill.

Now the real problem occurs when you try to get around between these battles.  My first problem is with the control of the character.  Tron Evolution is set up to use parkour type movements to get through the game, running up and along walls and jumping from ledge to ledge among other things.  Built much like the recent Prince of Persia games (starting with Sands of Time) this should be a really fun way to get around.  Unfortunately it rarely works that way.  Evey jump must be timed perfectly.  Every wall run must start at the perfect spot.  Should you miss just one button push or be off by a fraction of a second you’ll find yourself plummeting to your doom.  And you find yourself plummeting to your doom over and over and over (and over and over…).  And of course, should you miss something in the middle of a long running section, you’re put back at the beginning to try it all again.  This long process of trial and error in sections of the game that are meant to be fast and fluid act to pull you out of your immersion into the game and end up just leaving you frustrated.  The other problem with this running mechanic is that you recharge health and energy for special moves through these acrobatic tricks as well, so you need to be able to pull them off with ease during combat.  Even the slightest behind the scenes computer correction to help line up jumps or make sure you make it across a gap would have been largely appreciated.  And no, I’m not just complaining that a game is hard, it really feels unnecessarily torturous.

Now, my biggest complaint with the game is the camera.  Usually when you hear complaints about a bad camera, it’s because your view is obscured in some way and the camera can’t be adjusted.  Luckily, that isn’t the case here, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem.  Basically, imagine if you turned up camera sensitivity as high as it could go on any other game and then continued 2 or 3 times further.  That’s what the camera in this game is like.  Any attempt to adjust the camera only slightly, ends up moving at least 30-40 degrees and quickly.  And in a game where you need to line up perfectly to make certain jumps and do so at speed, this overly loose camera does little to aid in that task.  The camera was so bad that my mom came into the room, watched me play for a minute, and said that it made her feel sea sick.  You can see a bit of what she means at the end of the trailer below.

Now luckily, there are a few other types of gameplay that break up these free running sections.  First are the light cycle races.  If you had heard that you can use the Playstation Move in this game and are wondering why I haven’t mentioned it yet, it’s because the only place it’s usable is in these light cycle sections, where you’ll have to quickly swap controllers to use it.  When you do use it, the Move is held sideways like the handlebar of the bike and you can use it to steer.  Unfortunately, I felt like it was pretty unresponsive and found myself either understeering or oversteering and quickly decided to switch back to just using the thumb stick on the regular controller.  Anyway, these light cycle sections are actually pretty fun, fighting off enemies, steering around obstacles and jumping over missing sections of road.  They finally got the speed and fluidity to feel right in these sections.

The other type of gameplay in this game are the tank sections.  In these parts, you will pilot a tank down the street fighting off enemies and generally causing destruction while moving from one part of the grid to another.  While not a horrible part of the game, I felt the overall control of the tank a little sluggish and it just really slowed the game down.

Now this game also has multiplayer, and while I didn’t give it a try, it is apparently one of the few redeeming things about this game.  In the multiplayer game, you battle other players in the same style of combat found in the game, however the light cycles and tanks also merge fluidly into the game.  If at any time you need to move across the arena you can press a button and summon your lightcycle and while riding, the trails from your bike can also be used as a weapon.  Also, because it is more arena based, there is a lot less stress placed on the free running aspects of getting around and more placed on the somewhat enjoyable combat.  The other really interesting feature is that you play with the same character in both single player and multiplayer, so any leveling up done in one also counts in the other and vice versa.

So, in the end, unless you are really interested in the multiplayer or just have to own this game, I would suggest this as a rental at most.  Heck, it may even be better to just let someone else suffer through it and just watch a walkthrough on youtube if you really want to see the story.  Next game on my list, Dead Space 2.

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