A religious experience.
Let me get this off my chest: I'm a geek. A MAJOR geek. Tron was one of those childhood movies (though I was born after it came out) that left a lasting impression on me, probably second only to Terminator 2. It had all of the "right stuff": technical mumbo-jumbo that, judging by the time context, did not piss me off even a bit (well, maybe besides the "bit" having three modes...) and generally accurate to boot; absolutely astounding visuals, which I find beautiful even today; excellent music; excellent actors; excellent storyline (particularly when considering the time frame). The overall "feel" of the movie is something I have never, ever encountered afterwords: a sense of mystique and technological wizardry that can only be a labor of love. For eons I have wished for - and dreaded - a sequel; I wanted more, but I was afraid of being disappointed (Terminator 3... ). And I was quite dumbfounded when the sequel came out in the form of a video game. When the game came out, I didn't know what to think; I was worried that the game would disappoint, in which case a childhood dream of mine would be crushed. I waited over two weeks (a lifetime, when it comes to things I really want...) and decided to take the risk and be done with it.
Boy, I was NOT disappointed.
Tron 2.0 has all of the "right stuff". First and foremost, it is quite possibly the most beautiful game ever to grace my monitor. I have gasped over the latest Doom 3 trailer; almost fainted over the Half Life 2 technology demo. Tron 2.0 left me gaping like an idiot. For days I daydreamed and talked only of Tron 2.0; this is the kind of thing that only genuine geeks and gamers can understand. The damn thing haunted me; I couldn't wait for the day to end so that I could shut off the lights, put some headphones on and stay up playing the game until I couldn't keep my eyes open. The sense of being
in the Tron world is simply unbelievable, simple indescribable... you have to experience it to understand. Obviously the game was designed by people after my own heart: people who understood
the movie, people who lived
it and wanted to keep the legacy going... and with the help of the Lithtech-derived engine, 20 years after the movie the Tron universe comes to life once again, in glorious, 32 bit colour real time. The game is gorgeous
... but that is merely a word. No screenshot can convey how absolutely minimalistic, beautifully digital this game is.
Fortunately enough, that is not all. Tron 2.0 is graced with some of the best music ever to be heard in a computer game. The music is nothing short of amazing; more-over, it has restored my faith in dynamic scores. Not since X-Wing has a computer game been graced with music that seamlessly integrates with the game; never in the foreground, never quite in the background, always adjusting and changing to what is happening... always subtle, never annoying. If there was a way to just listen to the in-game music, I would have. It is incredible that the composer has managed to maintain the strange, unique musical style from the original movie, integrate modern electronic elements so seamlessly and keep everything under tight enough control to allow Direct Music to kick in. The in-game music is nothing short of amazing.
Story? Plenty of that to go around. Tron 2.0 stays faithful to the movie, and walks you through an incredibly immersive, incredibly diverse digital universe. Here again the game engine kicks in to show you amazing footage of what it would be like to stroll around a sort of internet cyber-city; to traverse the circuitry of an ancient mainframe computer (and even overclock it!), even a PDA - everywhere you go, plot elements pop up, missions are always diverse and the scenery is astounding. Oh yes, there are lightcycle arenas aplenty, and they look better than ever. Who needs a Cray Y when you have DirectX?...
Finally, the voice acting is terrific: Bruce Boxleitner plays Alan-1 again, Cindy Morgan plays Ma3a... I only wish they'd found how to keep David Warner and Jeff Bridges, but I guess you can't have it all.
It is very rare that I find no fault with a game; Tron 2.0 is no exception to this rule. That being said, it is extremely
rare that I so readily forget a game's flaws; Tron 2.0 is a definite exception to this
There are some frustrating scenes in Tron 2.0; most of them involve the lightcycle arenas. The computer AI is devilishly quick on reflexes, and incredibly stupid on strategy. I'm not particularly good at lightcycles (wasn't very good playing good ole' Novatron
either...), so this made for some very frustrating time trying to get through some of those scenes.
The boss levels are generally fine, but some are ridiculously annoying; plus, there was no reason for the last level to contain *** slight spoiler ***
three damn bosses, one would've been enough.
Battle system has a relatively high learning curve; this is not quite a straightforward shooter.
Regardless, it took me exactly two minutes apiece to forget these shortcomings...
The Bottom Line
An incredible game in every sense. Well thought, well designed, well executed. A treat for '70s/'80s geeks. One of those rare games that one will ALWAYS remember.