Tron: Evolution

[Hands-On] Tron: Evolution Multiplayer

We went hands-on with the video game based on the sequel to the movie about video games. Oh yes, even we are confused now.
Author: Parjanya C. Holtz
Published: October 12, 2010
During last week's Tron: Evolution hands-on event in San Francisco's Westin St. Francis, one of the city's exclusive high-end hotels, we had some face to face time with Disney and Propaganda's new movie tie-in to the upcoming film Tron: Legacy. We were presented with a set of four multiplayer modes that could be played on four different maps which are planned to ship with the game in December (two additional maps will be available for download for those who purchase a new copy of the game, plus plans for additional downloadable content have already been announced).

Not being entirely sure what to expect from Tron: Evolution's multiplayer, we walked into a venue that had multiple game stations set up on which journalists from various major and minor outlets were given the opportunity to play with and against one another. While it took us a while to get used to what was happening on-screen, and more importantly what was expected from us in order to excel at the game, we eventually figured it all out and defended TotalPlayStation's honor with all the light discs and light cycles we had to offer.

Tron: Evolution is a third-person action game set within the realms of a virtual world (yes, a video game set within a virtual world we know). That's pretty much all you need to know about the core gameplay in order to get an idea of what playing the game feels like. Things are all pretty standard fare, and with 'things' we mean the game's on-foot controls, with the possible exception being the freely rotatable camera, which generally orbited at an unusually great distance around the character we controlled. The main issue we had with it was not so much the distance itself, but the fact that in close quarters encounters, and especially the solely on-foot modes which were set in a more cramped environment, the camera zoomed in and out like crazy trying to compensate for the fact that we were jumping around between two walls and a pillar while trying to evade an enemy's light disc attack.

Speaking of attacks, there were two available at our disposal the primary, weaker, light disc throwing attack (think crazy energy frisbee that behaves like a boomerang) and a more powerful, customizable, and more importantly limited special light disc attack. The key to success during on-foot battles become clear quickly: Ration your limited special attacks wisely. While not presenting one-hit-kill opportunities, the special attack was still infinitely more powerful than the standard attack. However, it also needed to be charged, which resulted in mostly chaotic fights where opponents tiptoed around one another until one decided it was time to use up one of his or her five special attack slots things then usually got messy with players alternating between mashing the standard attack and the special attack buttons in hopes to be the first to deplete the opponent's life-bar, and the second to use up their number of special attacks.

It should also be mentioned that above described special attack could be customized, both during battle as we would swap between four types of discs on the fly with the help of the d-pad, with each attack having its own unique attack animation, and before the action within the game's lobby, where we got to choose our 'disc loadout' in a system likely inspired by the Modern Warfare series. Couple that with perks that gave our character more health, or faster regenerating energy abilities, and things are clear where Propaganda drew inspiration from. However, we barely even noticed the perks for the most part, which likely had to do with the fact that the stations were set up with level 30 characters, each assigned to the same set of perks.

But this wouldn't be a Tron game without light cycles. While only two out of the four maps allowed for us to transform into the iconic machines, it was clear that they presented a major part of multiplayer's gameplay. Relying on our light cycle as a form of transportation (and weapon the cycles leave behind a wall of energy which players try to force crash each other into) was crucial within the larger maps. Jumping in and out of 'bike-mode' was possible at any time, and only required a simple press of a button. It's an interesting gameplay concept that likely presented the most unique part of the game.

Our time with Tron: Evolution was brief, but it was enough to get a good impression of what Propaganda Games has in store for us, even if dishing out a final verdict at this point wouldn't be fair as it was obvious that the build wasn't a complete one, and we're still hoping that some of the nagging camera issues will be resolved before the game's December 7 release date. And then there's both 3D and Move support. Unfortunately we weren't shown either at the event, so you'll have to wait for more information on those as we draw closer to the game's release which is just a few short weeks away.