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Reviewed by Jason Zingale
s far as movie tie-in games go, “TRON: Evolution” is only as bad as the film on which it’s based. Unfortunately, Disney's “TRON: Legacy” is a ho-hum sequel that, considering it was 26 years in the making, really should have been better. It’s hard not to feel the same about the game as well, because while the TRON universe certainly owes itself to the medium, it doesn’t do a very good job of paying back the favor. Fans of the series will enjoy the back story that "TRON: Evolution" provides, but for anyone else, it’s never better than average.
Devised as a prequel to the new film, the game tells the story of how Kevin Flynn came to be trapped on the very Grid that he created. Well, sort of. While “TRON: Legacy” fills in many of the gaps on its own, “Evolution” creates its own side story that takes place concurrently with the main action. You play as ANON, a prototype System Monitor who must team up with the mysterious Cora (Olivia Wilde) to prevent the spread of a virus called Abraxas from terrorizing the system. Oh yeah, and now that all hell has broken loose, Clu has decided to stage a coup against Flynn and take over, and you’re the only one who can stop him. (Spoiler alert: You don’t, or there wouldn’t be a movie.)
Despite its convoluted plot, “TRON: Evolution” features a rather simplistic combat system. Everything is done with your identity disc, whether it’s throwing it like a frisbee or bashing people on the head with it melee-style. You can also supercharge the disc by holding down the X button, or upgrade to different mods like a Stasis Disc (which slows your enemies), a Corruption Disc (which absorbs damage dealt to enemies and turns it into health), and a Bomb Disc (which, well, blows shit up). ANON also moves around the Grid like a parkour champion, hopping over barriers, running on the sides of walls, and climbing up digital buildings like some kind of futuristic Prince of Persia.
It’s pretty fun for the first hour or so, but as the game starts to ratchet up the difficulty level by throwing endless waves of enemies your way, the combat becomes repetitive. There’s no real strategy to it at all, and there comes a point when you'll simply give up trying to kill enemies with basic disc attacks in lieu of more powerful special attacks that cost a mana-like energy to perform. Energy is easily refilled by crossing over marked objects scattered throughout each level, and health recharge stations (fashioned like lightning bolts on the sides of walls) are just as easy to find. As long as you follow this formula – attack, recharge, repeat – you'll likely complete the game in a matter of hours.
That might be music to your ears if all you care about is grinding out Achievements, but it’s nothing short of a disappointment for everyone else. The addition of sections where you control a light cycle and light tank helps to break up the monotony, but they’re not as exciting as you might think. Thankfully, the checkpoints are plentiful and the respawns are infinite, because if there’s one thing you do a lot of in the game, it’s dying. Not from enemies, but from things like smashing into walls or falling off the Grid, usually as a result of the clunky controls and annoying camera angles. It might have fared better with more polish, but “TRON: Evolution” is a few bytes short of being a complete program.