An Uninteresting but Functional Package
If we remove the secondary features of a game (read: story and graphics), and put ourselves in the eyes of a video gamer/customer, the value of a game will depend on two things:
a) The game's ability to give its players a control scheme that is precise and varied enough to overcome challenges given by the game.
b) The game's ability to employ unique, creative and ultimately fun ways for players to exploit or utilize the control scheme to resolve said challenges, resulting in positive experiences for the players.
Tron Evolution, a movie game whose story precedes that of Tron Legacy, is an average, middle-of-the-pack-product. As a game, it gets one out of the two aforemtioned criterions. The control scheme is mostly up to the task, and provides players enough commands for movement and combat. But the rest of the package feels pretty boring, since it only adequately imitates concepts from established games like Mirror's Edge and Prince of Persia. Unfortunately, there is little else to fill that stale hole, because both the story and the presentation is also pretty mundane. As a result, we get a game in value-limbo: Not interesting enough to be great, and not broken enough to be horrible.
Tron Evolution is a game that takes place in-between Tron (the movie) and Tron Legacy. You are Anon, the system monitor that is responsible for keeping the peace in the Grid, a cyberworld. You are confronted with two problems:
a) The appearance of a virus named Abraxas, who's terrorizing everybody
b) The massive purging of ISO programs, led by one of the leaders of the Grid, Clu.
The story is pretty average. There is very little emotional connection between players and characters. However, I do applaud the game for introducing new backdrops for the game, like the Bostrum Colony. There are some mild twists and turns in the plot as. But as a whole, the story lacks tension and emotional intensity. It's only in the game so to lead players from Point A to Point B.
The game can be succinctly divided into 3 sections: Platforming, combat and vehicle.
Platforming has Anon doing crazy parkour by running along walls and leaping from platform to platform. Ideally, like Mirror's Edge, this section would create a strong sense of momentum because it'll be so stimulating to pull off successive moves. But this doesn't happen because the sequences aren't long enough, and the sense of speed and freedom in Mirror's Edge is more pronounced than in Tron Evolution. The controls are all right, but the Shift key is an issue. It is both for making Anon sprint and stringing together the acrobatic moves. I find that really awkward, especially when doing parkour in a confined amount of space.
The combat parts of the game is relatively uninteresting. On paper, there is potential for the game. There are over 4 discs to use, each with different properties. The Corrupt Disc slowly drains health from the enemies, and the Stasis Disc can slow them down. In addition, Anon has a ton load of attacks and combos. Unfortunately, the depth is pretty superficial. You will only be relying on a select few moves, and will only change your attack strategies occasionally. Soon, instead of flinging Anon's Disc over and over again, I just simply used the Ground Slam Attack, because it gets the job down the fastest. Not good.
The vehicle sections are also below average. Anon gets to ride a light cycle or a tank, but the former has issues while the latter is just bland. In the light cycle, you go from Point A to Point B while the sky is falling. However, there were several times when I couldn't get the cycle to get any faster (even when I press the up button, which was what I was supposed to do), resulting in constant deaths from failing to jump across a pit. The issue got so bad that I actually needed to restart the whole cycle session. With that issue aside, the light cycle sessions are much better, since the sense of speed is prevalent. The tank session has less problems, but there was no tension in slowly moving around while laying waste to whatever the tank's cannon is facing. So considered as a whole, the vehicle sections are mundane.
While playing, Anon gain experience and levels up (or more specifically, it becomes a new version). This allows for the purchasing of power-ups such as increased health of more power in the disks. While this helps in the single player campaign it won't significantly change what you do there. You would rather send Anon to multiplayer mode against other players online. Fortunately, the multiplayer option fares better. While the modes there are pretty standard (such as deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag etc. ) the combat is much more exciting, thanks to amount of space players get to operate on. You get to use your light cycle or tank during the combat, and it is just cool to get on your light cycle, jump out of it, and attack. However, please keep in mind that the game won't balance the competition, so as a level 20 Anon you might be pitted against someone who could be a more powerful level 40 (50 is the max, I believe).
Another key thing I need to mention is that you need an account in order to save your game. Unfortunately, as someone from Hong Kong, I couldn't make one. Thankfully, I had an Xbox 360 account. If you don't have an account, you can't save your game, and can't go online. So make sure that you can make an account before getting this game.
From the presentation department, Tron Evolution is pretty average. While the premises and designs of the characters and environments allow for a "wow, this is cool" moment, the graphics are simply bland. It's even worse if you prefer seeing different environments, since almost everything looks the same: Dark environment with lights. The music and sound effects are a bit better. There are some electronic music pieces from Daft Punk, which is nice, and the sound effects are appropriately pronounced. However, these pluses can't carry an otherwise mediocre package.
You would probably squeeze 6 hours with the single player campaign, and another 6 more if you become heavily invested in the multiplayer. But being invested is not easy. The game as a whole isn't interesting. Instead, it feels like a cheaper and derivative version of better games. The presentation is solid but unspectacular, and the same could be said of the story. So unless you are an adamant Tron fan, I would strongly consider a rental before purchasing.
I like the new concepts not shown in either movie (Bostrum Colony), but it's a bland tale. The ending kind of surprised me, though.
Don't get me wrong; the controls work. But the game is bland, multiplayer aside.
Average graphics and a slightly above average soundtrack. Enough said.
Bonuses, Alternatives and Replay Value: 3/5
6 hours for an action game is below average, although the multiplayer can compensate for that.
Overall: 12/20 (3 stars)
Rent it first and see if you can enjoy the gameplay. Specifically, rent it and play until the first time you drive a tank, because by that point you'll see what the game has to offer. If you do like it, then make sure you could create an account, otherwise you won't be able to save (not good) or have multiplayer (not good either).