Tron: Evolution was easily one of my top five pleasant surprises at E3 2010.
The videogame, based on the upcoming Tron film, follows the trend established by the recent Batman and Wolverine videogame tie-ins by establishing its own narrative instead of blandly rehashing the events of the film. In Tron: Evolution, you enter the world of Tron as a security program designed to seek out and destroy programs that have invaded and are threatening to destroy the world.
The gameplay is reminiscent of Prince of Persia or Assassin’s Creed titles, in which you run, jump and parkour your way over and around obstacles in pursuit of your enemies. Combat involves throwing your basic Tron disc as well as specialized discs and various upgrades, and blasting enemies with bursts of energy and specialized combat moves. You can also combine moves for special attacks.
Enemies come in various shapes and sizes and represent different factions. In the words of the gentleman presiding over my hands-on demo, “Orange dudes are sometimes bad. Yellow dudes are always bad.”
When the yellow (and sometimes orange) dudes attack you, you lose energy which you can replenish by de-rezzing them, or by absorbing it from panels and objects in the world. If you let them wail on you enough, you will de-rez yourself. In action, the combat is fantastic, easy to control and glorious to look sat.
In fact, the game as a whole is a visual marvel. The simplistic “neon piping over black” look of the Tron world allows for amazing visual spectacles using minimal hardware resources. It’s also just a startlingly beautiful look. Running through the game’s levels, it’s easy to become distracted by the scenery, and, in combat, the combatants look more like works of art engaging in cooperative dance rather than videogame characters combating each other.
In addition to a basic running and fighting level, I was also given some hands-on time with one of the game’s light cycle levels, which, if I’m being completely honest, made me want to wet my pants. There’s a healthy dose of nostalgia inherent in the joy to be derived from Tron: Evolution, and the light cycle level plays up to that with aplomb. Players unfamiliar with the legacy of Tron may find it less pleasing, but as a straight action racing level, it fares pretty well.
Playing the level, as I was, out of context, I’m unsure of what exactly was happening, but the objective of the level was to evade enemies who were also in light cycles (orange this time) while dodging bits of the world that were falling down around me. The roadway itself was also de-rezzing, making the course all the more treacherous.
As a straight-up racing game, the light cycle level was brutally hard, and this is one area where the game’s unique art style complicated the gameplay. The black on blue scenery combined with the black on blue debris made it difficult to follow the course at times, leading to a number of unpredictable and cheap deaths by falling off cliffs that didn’t appear to be there. That aside, the light cycle controlled as one would imagine, and it was an exhilarating – if at times frustrating – experience.
Disney has confirmed that some characters from the upcoming film will also appear in the game, including Olivia Wilde’s (Thirteen from House) character “Quorra,” although aside form Wilde, they won’t confirm yet which actors are making an appearance in Evolution. During our demo, we barely heard a voice that sounded a lot like Jeff Bridges’, so we’re assuming he’s in the game as well.
Tron: Evolution will be available this holiday season. We’ll have more when there is more.