Games related to movies don't exactly have a good reputation. They're usually rushed, short, bland, unsatisfying to the general gamer and clearly put out to exploit a box office success. And with Tron: Legacy coming out this December, you'd think that Tron: Evolution is going to go down the same route. Well, if you were thinking that, you'd be completely wrong. Propaganda Games, the developer, are taking this project very seriously and aren't content with simply satisfying the casual crowd.
It helps that the guys at Propaganda are big fans of Tron, and it also helps that the game and film have been developed in tandem. What this means is that they aren't telling the same story; they feed off one another. Ideas have been shared between the film studio and Propaganda with the hopes that a cohesive and worthwhile story will be told. Because of this, Tron: Evolution is actually a prequel to Tron: Legacy and Darren Hedges, the game's director, notes that players will be able to see the repercussions of their actions throughout the film. It's great that this amount of detail has been poured into the project, as it offers a huge level of interaction that's very uncommon.
In Tron: Evolution, you play Anon (Anonymous), a security program that's been developed by Kevin Flynn to try and police his utopia. The game will also introduce some of the characters from the film, such as Quorra, who is being voiced by Olivia Wilde.
While traversing through the world as Anon, players will enjoy a gameplay style that's a combination of various factors. It's predominantly third-person action, but there are also some classic racing sequences in there too. The fighting style is a blend of free-roaming and capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that's based around expression and dance. Anon will also be able to do things like wall-riding.
The single player combat experience as a whole features three different styles: Sprint, Standard and Defence. Standard is the jack of all trades, but Sprint and Defence are interesting alternatives. While in Sprint, Anon will move a lot faster, making him harder to hit, but he will also deal less damage with his attacks. In Defence, Anon will have his movement restricted, but he will take less damage. It also means he can use powerful area of effect moves more easily.
Perhaps what's most interesting though, is that Tron: Evolution's online mode works in conjunction with the single player experience. Experience gained in one will affect the other and it's possible to jump straight into the online mode without even touching single player.
The online experience is all about melee combat and bikes. There are four different game modes to enjoy, which range from the standard death match (disintegration), to a "domination" model called Power Monger and Bit Runner, which is like a mobile Capture The Flag.
These modes allow for a good mixture between bike gameplay and melee combat, as the bikes can be used to get from a to b quickly, but also to take down other players in the classic way - making them drive into your trail. The controls for the bikes were a bit too responsive, but it's possible to do 90 degree turns on a sixpence, so it's swings and roundabouts really.
Melee combat, while initially seeming quite limited, actually involves a lot of strategy. Standard moves don't seem to be that effective, but the power moves are much more deadly. There's a catch though, the power moves require energy to perform, limiting their use considerably. Energy can only be restored by embracing the free-running mechanics of the game, which helps action to flow and stops everything grouping up into a mass melee.
Overall, Tron: Evolution looks like a huge step in the right direction for games associated with films. It looks to offer a pseudo-interactive experience with Tron: Legacy, while also offering a gameplay experience that isn't just designed to cater for the casual audience. It's a win win really.