Review by Captain_Japan
Flawed but Fun
Though the PSP version of TRON Evolution can be quite a challenge, partially because of the cheapness of some of it, the gameplay still keeps me coming back for more. There are some kinks though, namely the races, there is a lot of rubber-banding going on but if you get the power-ups and learn the tracks you can get through it ok. The Recognizer levels are even tougher though, I have yet to even place a score...geeze, I feel so old. There's no difficulty select here so you're stuck with trying to best your score on your own.
The game has a story mode of sorts that takes place about three years after the first Tron film so the events preclude the new movie. I think all the games take place before the film and at different periods. The PS3 and 360 version take place after this PSP game but alas, those games aren't as good as this. Anyway you play the part of a program named Beta, tasked to compete in games that Flynn has created and supervised by Tron. You can choose which events to compete in any order you wish and by placing at least 3rd you gain points to unlock items and open up the next tier of the events.
The event types consist of Light Cycle racing(which is a lot like WipEout but a bit jerkier), Light Cycle Grid(which is like the classic Tron snake game), Light Cycle Arena(which is kinda like grid but with smooth race controls of the bikes), on foot Melee battles/Hacking(which is part platforming and brawling), Tanks battles(which are similar to the old Atari 2600 game, Combat) and the Recognizer shooting game(which is kinda like Panzer Dragoon from an interior view). My favorite so far, is the grid. It's classic Tron having to avoid and trap your opponents with the beam trail. And when you make those sharp turns, the whole screen turns with you. Makes for some intense matches.
As I said the Recognizer is the most difficult event in the game by far. You have to place your cross-hairs over a target, sometimes leading the target, with the analog stick and you also have to worry about you guns over-heating. It's a moving shooting gallery that's unforgiving but after a while you can get the hang of it. Just remember to try not to miss as the game relies on point multipliers.
The graphics are outstanding except for the occasional screen-tearing and bit of lag. But everything is presented well with it's blacks, blues, bright neon lights and reflective and transparent surfaces. The game also runs at a very good framerate, about 60fps, so it has a good sense of speed. The music and sound is also great too, lots of techno tracks that can be pretty catchy. I don't think there are any tracks by Daft Punk but what is there sounds fitting.
I like the little details, like in the Recognizer game, when you get shot the windows start to crack and you can see your character at the helm. Also you can change the look of your character with different suits, colors, circuit patterns and helmets which mostly need to be unlocked. You can also change the look of your Light Cycle and Tank with upgrades which are both practical and cosmetic. The Light Cycle races in particular have a really cool way to get a starting boost. Before the race begins you start on foot and you can repeatedly hit the X button to fill a bar to generate boost as your character runs forward to jump and turn into a Light Cycle. Really cool to watch.
The game is definitely Tron through and through. I just wish some of the events were a little more forgiving and that the story mode was more meatier but, the original arcade Tron games could be pretty brutal and had no story to speak of as well. If the devs were going for that arcade angle, they succeeded. The game also has a quick game mode at the main menu where you can pick any event and variant you wish right away for you short burst gamers. There's a section for inputting codes too but where you get these codes, I have no idea. Disney hasn't yet released any, so say the developers.
TRON Evolution has a 2-4 multi-player mode but it's local wireless Ad-Hoc only. Every competitive event can be played with up to four other friends and bots will take the place of any missing ones.
I really enjoy it this game, it's fun, challenging and a bit maddening, which was a lot like how the Tron arcade games of old were. However, if there's a game type I'm having trouble on,(and there always is) I can just go play another. Make this another successful movie to game translation and I think the best Tron "arcade" game of them all.
Product Release: TRON: Evolution (US, 12/07/10)
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