TRON is a movie franchise that should have good video games. It's one of the major examples of a movie video game that doesn't suck. So with a new TRON film coming out, there's a lot to live up to with the series. Unfortunately, TRON: Evolution comes off as a ho-hum movie tie in game. It's got some cool multiplayer potential, but other than that it's a weak program.
TRON: Evolution bridges the gap between the original 1982 film and the upcoming sequel. You play as a System Monitor who is trying to stop Clu's rise to power. It's a third-person action adventure game full of parkour and combat. Think Assassin's Creed, Prince of Persia, or Spider-Man, but glow-in-the-dark. The story is interesting in that it expands on the universe and answers what happened to Flynn. Also that hot chick from House does all her own voicework in it. Unfortunately, she doesn't look all that hot. The character models are nothing to get excited over, and have an uncanny valley aspect a lot of times. The world looks pretty dope at first, with it's futuristic metropolis full of very pale ravers. However, the constant blue neon lights get tiresome after a few levels. Eventually the game does mix it up a little, but one level of green and one level of orange are hardly a varied aesthetic. The animations are stiff most of the time, preventing the more spectacular moves from looking as good as they should. And there are some spectacular moves. There are parts in the game where I pulled off some sick acrobatics, but between the game's bad camera and the jerkiness and stuttering of the character, it was hard to tell what happened.
TRON features 3D support for those of you getting fancy new TVs this year. The framerate drop is really noticeable with it on, and the 3D effects do little to change the game, only making the characters seem like they're floating off of the actual world. And the cutscenes aren't even in 3D at all.
The wall running, death defying leaps, and magnetic ziplining all look cool the first couple of times, but they're ultimately pretty shallow. The majority of the levels basically boil down to "find the only glowing thing in the dark, greyscale world, and run at it." It feels like the game is playing itself half of the time. Combat is a mix between melee attacks and light disc throws. There are some cool combos you can pull off, and some special moves, but the combat devolves into button mashing. Playing on Hard is the only way the game forces you to develop a strategy, but even then most of the time you're just hitting the attack button as fast as possible, or running around in circles to refill your special attack meter.
If you have a USB game controller, I definitely recommend it over the keyboard and mouse controls. Those are passable, but it's clear the game was designed for a game controller, and it works much smoother that way.
In addition to the combat and seemingly endless wall running, you can also jump into the light cycle and light tank. These sequences are sprinkled throughout the game. The light cycles are cool and I got excited every time one came up. But there's only one type of light cycle level: escape from the exploding stuff. It was neat the first time, but each level was the same concept, and it felt like a waste of TRON's most iconic element. The Light Tank is worthless. It's clunky, slow, and boring, and I hated every second that dragged on while I slowly shot at other equally lethargic tanks.
Multiplayer is where the game finally feels like TRON. You can compete in some deathmatch style Grid Games, and even light cycle based events. Yes, this is where you finally play light cycles in the way they're supposed to be played. Having a 10 player light cycle deathmatch is freaking nuts, but it's also the funnest art of this game. The modes seem to work better in the team mode, as opposed to free for all. There are smaller maps that don't allow the light cycles, but they're nowhere near as fun as tearing through the bigger maps.
TRON: Evolution is barely a TRON game. It's a repetitive cyberpunk Prince of Persia. The platforming and combat are flashy, but both feel awkward to control and get really competitive. All the cool things you'd expect in a TRON game are restricted to the limited multiplayer modes. If you've got 10 people you can play some fun multiplayer games, but there are only a half dozen maps including the day one DLC. If you want to find out what happens between the two films, then you at least get a bit of a story here. And if the developers keep expanding the multiplayer with DLC like they're already doing then this game could be worth a purchase eventually. But right now TRON feels like a movie cash in game more than the next step in a classic gaming franchise.