PC REVIEW:TRON 2.0

Oh TRON, how I recall the glory days of my youth replicating the disk arena scene with frisbees, roman candles and old, used parkas for extra protection. Oh TRON, how I recall when said roman candle penetrated one warrior's armor (parka) causing it to burst in flames. Oh TRON, how I recalled that said warrior managed to discard the armor (parka) off his body before receiving any burns to his bodice. Oh TRON, how I recall that all these games were played in a forested area in the heat of a summer's eve. Oh TRON what the hell were we thinking?

Disney's TRON makes a lot more sense to me now than it did twenty years ago. The only thing that I knew about computers was that they were all up to no good. All computers were scary back in those days. The only thing we knew about them was what we were told from the movies we watched. Did you ever see a good movie about a friendly computer? Sure there was The Computer That Wore Tennis Shoes and Short Circuit but I said "good" movies. If you know who HAL is, you'll know where I'm coming from.

Not only did I play some TRON games in real life but I spent a fortune on the videogame. I probably still suck at it but you'll never know because you're probably not even reading this review anyway.

TRON 2.0 takes place twenty years after the events in the original movie. At last year's E3 I sat in one of the Lightcycles that were on display and attempted to play the demo. Instead of a controller the girl gave me a keyboard and began giving me all kinds of instructions which I never paid attention to because I was so distracted by all the music and blinking lights everywhere. "Look, there's Shrek."

The Lightcycle I was sitting in was akin to one of those kiddie barbershop chairs disguised as a boat or a horse or some kind of plywood space vehicle. When it came my time to play little did I know the demo girl would be watching my every move. I didn't have a clue what to do and with my nametag proudly labeling me as an Editor Journalist for CCCP, I told her I was really a baker by trade and I only came here with a friend because I heard there was free coffee and donuts. I gave her back that awkward keyboard and instead went over to bust a few moves with Britney's Dance Beat.

TRON 2.0 takes us back into the digital realm as the son of Alan Bradley, Jet, who is thrust into the computer to solve the disappearance of his father. Jet is no slouch when it comes to games and computers, he's almost as smart as his old man who created TRON all those years ago. One inside the computer it's shoot, fight and jump as you enter various files, programs, servers and networks. Corrupt programs, viruses and other enemies manifest themselves into digitally tangible characters that can be eliminated by the use of weapons. The main weapon of choice is the disk. There are more than a dozen weapons including an assortment of guns, grenades, lasers and close-range devices but nothing acts as a better overall weapon than the disk - and herein lies the rub.

What looks like a brilliantly produced game is actually an interactive movie. Much of the gameplay is comprised of shooter and platform elements. While there is all kinds of geek-speak taking place about programs and scripts they are really just nerd words used to describe enemies and locations in the game. While the story is interesting, unraveling at a measurable pace during the cutscenes, you have little to do with actually solving the mystery as you more or less collect various components and emails which trigger the next series of cutscenes where the story continues to be revealed. In this way I almost feel like an employee of TRON 2.0 Ltd, specializing in security and data mining.

There's not enough involvement in this game. Lightcycles are included but almost as a series of mini games as opposed to a serious component to the game. The multi-player mode makes good use of both the Lightcycles and the Disk Arena in a few modes but how many people are going to go through the trouble of using LAN? I know I'm not going to.

As its predecessor did two decades ago, TRON 2.0 doesn't fail to impress with incredible graphics. Colors blend, wash, overlap and interact to create a pulsing, living, digital environment. Characters look about as good as they did in the original movie complete with glowing electronic suits. Although the levels are linear they are highly imaginative. The interface will help you sort out some of the information which can seem a little overwhelming at first. Controls are tight and commands are easy to execute. Voiceovers are strong and convey a movie-like quality to the game. Music and sound effects are perfectly cued and rich in timbre. Crank this baby up.

If TRON 2.0 allowed you to use more of your brain along with the action elements, it would be a more rewarding experience. As it is, TRON 2.0 underneath all the glitter, glimmer and high-tech processing is just a 386.

Preview Posted By Al

It's the 20th anniversary of Disney's Tron and what could be a more fitting tribute than the release of a videogame based on the movie? Tron 2.0 will take place 20 years after events in the movie and it's only right that we will be able to play the game on a PC since that's where the game takes place, although I have a feeling it will sneak into various consoles in due time.

The game will retain much of the unique Tron look but with more curves and contours. Original artist, Syd Mead was commissioned to help preserve that blacklight, iridescent glow that gave us a glimpse inside the electronics of a mainframe. You may recall that in the original movie, an experiment to digitize matter culminated with the mainframe computer going berserk until it was defeated by Tron and its programmer, Flynn. After the battle, everyone lived happily ever after until the digitizing research was finally perfected by Alan Bradley, the creator of the original Tron program. Twenty years later, it is now possible to insert matter, such as humans, into the digital world of the computers. The benefits are staggering but so are the dangers.

An internet company, damn them all anyway, has seen fit to use the program to infiltrate government agencies giving them access to sensitive information as well as control of the infrastructures which can be all accessed by computer. Bradley goes missing and his son, Jett, a hedonistic programmer in his own right, goes inside the computer in search of his father and to try to stop the Data Wraiths.

The game will be played from the first-person perspective and will be light-years more advanced than the original Tron arcade game that featured lightcycles and disk throwing. Many of these old games will make a nostalgic appearance here but in addition to the old school electronics you will visit PDAs, lab servers, personal computers, routers, internet cities, firewalls and databases including ones in the old mainframe. Your first weapon will be the disk which can be thrown like a Frisbee. It travels in a straight line and later in the game you can control it so that it can travel around corners. More traditional weapons will also be available in the game as well as offensive moves for hand-to-hand combat. Data files scattered throughout the digital realm will add more plot twists to the story and characters will be able to level up and gain experience much like they way they do in a RPG.

Tron 2.0 will also include a multi-player mode but there is no specific information on whether it will be a capture-the-flag game or team-based missions or a combination of both. It's been 20 years, let's hope Tron has used that time wisely to give us another great game that we will still be talking about 20 years from now.

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System: PC
Dev: Monolith
Pub: Beuna Vista
Release: Aug 2003
Players: 1 - Multi-LAN
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
3.0
MUSIC/FX
5.0
VALUE
1.5