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Written by  :  kbmb (435)
Written on  :  Aug 30, 2003
Platform  :  Windows

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A solid first-person shooter!

The Good

I certainly enjoyed the movie "Tron", but I haven't seen it in years and other than a brief memory involving those disc they throw around -- and of course the lightcycles -- I don't remember anything about it and it doesn't really rank among my favorite movies list. So when I picked up Tron, I wasn't particularly interested in the Tron-ninn...ninity...of it all, but it looked interesting enough, it was getting good reviews, and hey, lightcycles, eh?

I am quite pleased I picked this up. Whether or not you're a fan of the movie, I think you'll enjoy this game. Heck, you don't even need to know what the movie is to enjoy the game. The game is not based on the movie; it's just another take on the same idea. And it works brilliantly.

The graphics are wonderful, and there's something in this game that I don't think HAS been done before -- every plot-character looks different. Not just a different texture, but they actually all look different. Different sized noses, different looking faces, etc. It jumped out at me, because most games I play, the only difference between characters is usually texture changes, and that's it. It was great seeing different characters that had an individual voice and look to them.

The graphics are superb. Not only does the Tron world look just like it should, but the 'real world' scenes also look incredible. Nothing looks like 'filler' in either sense. The Tron world is filled with primitive polygons and lines along the wall that form some sort of unnecessary design stand out at you. Your suits are filled with that glowy-blue stuff; programs speak with that odd distorted warbled computer-like voice. It's straight out of the movie, and again, the guys here did it absolutely perfect. In an extreme contrast, the real world looks just like the real world should. It's obvious there was a talented group of artists working on this game, and I was pleased to find they spent just as much time working on both worlds, even though the real world is far less significant in the game.

Voice-overs are well done, and the dialogue sounds just like it's coming from a movie, with the dramatic parts being overlaid by a great soundtrack. As well as the voices being great, the character animation is also some of the best I've seen. Quite obviously done with motion-capture technology, it's on par with, say, No One Lives Forever 2 (if you've played that).

The game features an "RPG" system very similar to Deus Ex's. As you do certain tasks, or pick up upgrades, your 'version number' increases, with every 1 version you gain, you gain a level and can upgrade some of your five stats, which include health, energy, weapon efficiency, transfer rate and processor. Each one plays an important part in the game. Along with these stats, you also pick up 'subroutines', which are upgrades and weapons that (provided you have room and you're not needing a defrag ;) ) you can use to aid you in the game. These can become infected by corruption if a corrupted program gets a lucky shot in, forcing you to either abandon your subroutine or anti-virus it. Nothing adds more to a game than these little RPG elements. It's one of the reasons Deus Ex was such a thrill to play, and it does just as well in Tron 2.0.

The game *is* still a first-person shooter, even with bits of drama, the occasional jumping-puzzle (don't run away! There's not that many and they're not hard at all) and dialogue and cutscenes, the game's main focus is combat, whether it's disc-dueling with an ICP or battling it out in a lightcycle battle. While you have your selection of a number of weapons (each that looks awesome in its Tron-nessence...ense....) your disc will probably by the most used, as it requires no energy to throw and you can block other discs thrown at you.

If this were called by any other name, I would say the level design was pure crap. But in this case, level design is spot-on. Most areas are very basic to look at from a level design point of view (although in-game it looks spectacular, with odd computer-stuff running around off in the distance), but it is as you would expect from Tron. And the bonus is, because of basic level design, the game runs flawlessly on my almost-outdated computer on high detail. The best part, however, is the areas infected by corruption. Those basic design soon become torn to bits with green corruption tearing apart the levels and oozing across the area.

And the levels themselves are great. One level requires you to escape the deadly reformat! Another level you travel back into a very old, old computer and help overclock it! Some levels require you to pass through evil corrupted sectors of computers, and you even get to visit the Internet! And who wouldn't want to spend some time off at the "Progress Bar"?

The story is also great, and told well through cutscenes and dialogue. The ending is appropriate, with a "big bad boss" who was quite a fright, really.

The Bad

Two things that happened in the game made me curious. First, there's a part where you engage in a lightcycle battle -- but there was no reason to! You weren't being forced into it, you weren't using it as a means of just...decided to go do it. For no reason. Now, it was certainly fun, but it seemed oddly out of place when in one scene you're heading somewhere, and the next you find yourself in a lightcycle, and then the next scene you're where you thought you were going to be after the first one!

The second odd thing was a certain character, Mercury. Be warned: the rest of this paragraph is a spoiler. This chick helps you out early in the game, but due to a format in the server, she loses her memory. The next time you see her, she is back to being nothing more than a program, with a boring yes-or-no attitude and complete loss of her memory. However, at the very end, she greets you again, only she has her memory back. There's never an explanation for this, and it seemed really out of place, as she had no real reason to be there.

More work should have been spent on the final boss level. The boss himself was cool, but it was way too easy to get him stuck so that you could hurt him but he couldn't hurt you. I mean, it wasn't only easy to do, it was almost inevitable.

One thing I didn't like was that, in lightcycle combat, most battles were won by simply trapping the opponent in his own trail. A good tactic, to be sure, but it would make the opponent run circles within his own trail until he had no more room to make a circle. Since the opponents are so damned good at getting *just* close enough to the edge, it can take up to ten minutes to wait for him to get himself killed, if you trap him at a great enough distance. Meanwhile, you can't progress until the computer has killed himself, so there's not much for you to do except drive around and hope you don't screw up by running into your own trail.

The Bottom Line

A solid game, all around. I highly suggest picking this game up. This is one of the few hyped of first person shooters that I've really enjoyed, as it's one of the few that actually lives up to the hype. Fan of the movie or not -- it's a great game.