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Tron: Evolution PS3 Review

03/06/2011 Family Returning Gamer Review
Guest author: Kelsey Jackson
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Tron: Evolution PS3

Tron: Evolution



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Other GamePeople columnists have reviewed this from their perspective - huh?:
Family Gamer (PS3)

Tron: Evolution PS3 extends rather than complements the film, which itself looks to adjunct the original. Somehow though this works so much better than the derrivative film tie-ins I remember from before I returned to gaming.

Tron: Evolution by Propaganda Games is a brand extension of the hit 2010 Disney sequel, Tron Legacy. I specifically use the words Brand Extension and not Film-Tie-In or the Game-of-the-Film because those phrases bring to mind games of years past, games better forgotten; Home Alone, Hudson Hawk, Avatar, Superman Returns and the industry crashing phenomenon that was E.T. for the Atari 2600. As a returning gamer of more than twenty five years I have come to view games based on film franchises with suspicion.

It's a sad fact that movie production companies know that if the film is big enough then that brand can be stretched to a point when it is impossible to walk into a house wares shop without seeing a Harry Potter toilet brush in the bathroom department or an Iron Man cookie jar in kitchen ware.

But a long, long way before it reaches the toilet brush stage, a film license extends in a distinct, money spinning direction: the video game. These are usually neglected in terms of quality. There are exceptions, of course; Rare's Goldeneye, and Ocean's Batman The Video Game being stand out titles among precious few others, but for every Alien vs Predator success there are a slew of Charlies Angels' failures.

Historically, a film tie in was just that; a video game that followed the plot of the film closely within the constraints of the particular genre. That has always been a problem for me; where is the intrigue in following the plot of a game when you know how it ends? The developer may argue that the whole point is that the player gets to be Robocop, or Ripley, or Tony Montana and instead of passively viewing -- actively playing a part in the success of the protagonist and the progression of the story.

Tron: Evolution gets its inspiration from parkour.

But how many times can the same story be told and still remain interesting? It took video game makers many years to figure that the answer was "not many", much longer than it took, for example, comic book writers or novelists who have been expanding universes such as Aliens, Star Wars or The X Files far beyond what we were originally told on celluloid.

Tron: Evolution gets its inspiration from parkour influenced games like Mirrors Edge and Prince of Persia series. Parkour, or Free-running, became a popular extreme sport about five or so years ago; the idea of parkour is to use the urban landscape (brick walls, park benches, lamp-posts etc) to perform a series of stunts like wall runs, somersaults and the like, or to just reach a destination using man-made structures to help you along the way.

The digital cityscapes in Tron: Evolution are littered with such helpful items to aid you in your journey from A to B. Your character will be required to athletically run up or along walls, vault on benches to reach high ledges, most of the levels are best completed at a sprint and it will likely take a few runs through of a level before you are able to traverse it fluidly enough to show off.

Flow throughout the levels is frequently broken, though, by enemy encounters. Recognised by their black and yellow suits, the enemies of the game emerge from damaged walls; or corrupted data and are easily despatched using a variety of interesting combos that put your characters hands, feet, and Disc to good use. With each fallen foe experience points are dropped which can be collected and traded in various points in the game for Software Upgrades or your character: new abilities that help you in your fight. Tron: Evolution is further secured within the classification of brand extension by the setting which is not restricted to the plot of the film, but instead acts as a prequel to Tron: Legacy and a sequel of sorts to the popular and long running Tron comic book series.

Maybe it's time to find a new hobby.

A political division is forming in The Grid (the city in which the game is set); on one side are the Basics (the original inhabitants) and on the other are the ISO's units of code that have developed their own free will. In the midst of this division is Abraxas, a virus-like threat that leads to Grid corruption and the spawning of the aforementioned enemies. A bad-guy turn from a previously benign character completes the storied backdrop for the game in which your nameless, faceless avatar is charged with the task of restoring order to this fractioned world.

The whole environment of Tron, for the uninitiated, is a man-made computer program; a living, breathing city with digital, humanoid inhabitants, each one of whom represents a different line of code or part of the working program in which you inhabit. For the most part these city dwellers can be left to their own devices, successfully performing the tasks that they were programmed to do, although in more crowded sections they do have an annoying habit of getting in the way and interrupting your flow, frequently frustrating but the best parts of the game are not the ones which take place on ground level, but ones which require you to jump from ledge to ledge, high above the city streets.

The camera does it's best to follow your character but occasionally needs a little nudging; I've yet to encounter a perfect in-game camera but the controls here are easy enough to adjust with the right analogue stick. What takes a little more getting used to, however, are the left stick controls for your character. I found them to be twitchy and not much good for tiny, fine tuning steps. Going at a full sprint is a different story and your avatar responds well to every lean and scaling walls, after a little practice, can be a joy.

Tron: Evolution is not a varied game, neither in terms of game play or visuals. Those who are familiar with the Tron aesthetic will be getting exactly what they expected: level after level of neon on black. Light Cycle races break the monotony but I found them to be unchallenging, on-rails distractions from the meat of the game.

The most faithful and beautiful representation of an already existing fictional world.

The levels are repetitive but I took the view that they are designed for repeated play and only when you are hot-footing from bench to wall to platform in a seamless, uninterrupted string of moves while taking out bad guys with your light disc are you getting the most out of the game. It's a lot to ask the average gamer, sure, but if the average gamer isn't willing to put at least as much effort into a game as they did cash, then maybe it's time to find a new hobby.

Light on challenge if all you want to do is plough through it from start to finish, high on fun in short bursts of play, Tron: Evolution will not set the world on fire but it is, at the moment, the most faithful and beautiful representation of an already existing fictional world in a video game. I am extremely grateful to Propaganda Games for providing me with some short-term fun that I will return to, will not forget, and will certainly recommend.

As an extension of a brand Tron: Evolution sits comfortably next to the success stories of film tie-ins and pushes the failures further into forgotten history. Just as frequently viewed Teletext pages burn into old CRT television screens, so too will Tron: Evolution burn its neon and leather clad world into your gaming memory.

Guest review by Kelsey Jackson

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Kelsey Jackson wrote this Returning Gamer article under the watchful eye of Sinan Kubba.

"As an 80s kid I was obsessed with gaming. But university, stress and life relegated my hobby to the backseat. After years in the wilderness, I'm back into video games. I don't just want to play games that remind of a happy youth though. I'm just as excited about games that take things forward, experiences that re-ignite that curiosity and fascination I had years ago."

Here are the games I've been playing recently:

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