Tron: Evolution - PAX 2010 hands-on

You know, I was so elated with all things Tron recently at Comic-Con, I completely missed a nimmensely important part of Tron: Evolution. I was so anxious to talk to the devs, play the other Wii game, and Good God, did you see their set up?! A room filled with pulsating blue lights and classic coin-ops flicked on free play!

If you watch the video of me up there, it’s pretty evident that I’m in a goofy geek panic, and in that state I seemed to have completely missed out on a very crucial detail of Tron: Evolution. Sure, I played the light cycle level, which wasn’t an arena battle but rather a high velocity escape from a quickly corroding environment. Cool, but it’s hardly what he bulk of the game is actually entails. PAX put me in the know.

Of course it ain’t all light cycles! Fans already know that Tron Evolution is a prequel bridge between Tron and the upcoming Tron: Legacy, but I, rather unfortunately, had no idea what that really meant gameplay wise. I hadn’t so much as seen any on foot portion of the game. Screenshots hinted at third-person thrills, but surely it can’t be all disc arenas right? Turns out it’s a helluva lot cooler than I expected, and it’s doing that by taking a couple cues from some of my favorite games.

Prince of Persia, what? Tron: Evolution immediately hit me with a vibe reminiscent of Ubisoft’s underrated PoP resurrection from 2008 with some incredibly slick third-person platforming that certainly took me by surprise. You play as a system monitor created by Flynn, and he’s no meek white guy in tights (Sorry, Tron Guy.) Holding the Right Shoulder button puts him into an accelerated action mode, which can set all manner of parkour leaps an wall runs in motion.

There are even nodes you can magnetically grapple towards using your disc, which warmed my PoP lovin’ heart further, but I was practically doing cartwheels when I discovered what I perceived as a reference to F-Zero. Low on health. There are glowing strips that align the walls. Wall run across it and BADABING – health restored, without even breaking stride.

Oh, but getting back to Ubisoft games, the combat reminded a lot of Assassin’s Creed, albeit less difficult and taken a bit further. Your disc basically becomes an elegant exploding bat, as you can range throw it at enemies, beat them at close range melee-style, and even unleash a heavy move that takes a little longer to execute. Obviously, these can be strung together in combos (to what end, I’m not sure. Although I certainly saw a multiplier pop up which means your skill is being tracked and applied to something.) However, using your shoulder button, once again, slightly alters each move into something considerably more badass and offers twice the combat variation. Better still, you’ve got some killer block and parry counters that require a little timing. Hey, technically Tron isn’t all that different from Altair and Ezio’s Animus anyway, so if it’s okay with everybody, I’ll just go ahead and consider them part of the same universe

I knew I was going to like the Tron game, just for being a Tron game (because it’s a Tron game!!) But I wasn’t prepared for how much I liked it. The only thing that could make Tron: Evolution better would be playing it toDaft Puck’s phenomenal Tron: Legacy score. I asked about it, and got this reply: “We’d really like to.” You can take that to mean they’re trying, but knowing that people can and can almost never legally say/confirm such things in this little industry, I’m taking the lack of “No.” as confirmation!

Sep 5, 2010