Climax
Buena Vista
FPS
1-4
11.04.04

Tron 2.0: Killer App


Tron 2.0 is a game that's going to bring a tear to the eyes of computer geeks that loved the movie and the many arcade games before and after its creation, in both a good and a bad way. They'll like the references to the original movie, the classic Tron sounds, the impressive artistic quality and style, and the clever way that computer terms can be made into interesting living creatures. What you won't like is the frequently buggy and irritatingly frustrating game that's behind it all.

Graphics

Tron 2.0 has received a great deal of praise on its impressive and unique art style, and for good reason. The game is frequently nothing short of breathtaking, sticking with the original interesting art style that made the original Tron movie so great. The additions here are in the some of the impressive architecture that is present in the computer world. You would think that there was only so much you could do with flat textures and blocks, and Tron 2.0 is out to prove you wrong. There's a great deal to like here.

However, the game's graphics do have a few stuttering points. Originally made for the PC, the game did not make the transition to the lower resolutions very well. You often loose a lot of the detail that you can tell would have been amazing on a more powerful system, especially in a lot of the character art. On top of that, the game will often suffer from frequent tearing, even when doing something as basic as looking around quickly. Furthermore, because the game has very little that makes anything in particular stand out, certain objects will be hard to see, because they'll frequently blend in to the overall surroundings, a problem that will frequently result in needless death, but more on that later.

Sound

The sound that's in Tron 2.0 is pretty good, and much of it is from the original Tron movie. The footsteps and the bits, for example, will bring back sweet memories of a time when Disney did things other than just their standard animation fare. The acting is fairly good as well, with a few big names that won't make you grab your ears in pain. There are a few bad points, but thankfully they're outshined by good points in this department.

Unfortunately, that's about where the good parts about the sound end, mostly because that's about all the sound there is, and interestingly it's questionable whether this was by design, or some horrible bug in the game itself. Basically, very little in the world makes any actual sound, except you. In fact, there's an upgradeable skill in the game that allows you to reduce the amount of sound you make so that you can more easily get by enemies. Enemies, on the other hand, make no sound whatsoever. Their weapons don't either, save on a few rare occasions, and only infrequently do they actually announce their intent to open fire. The result is that you will very often first know that an enemy is nearby when you first get hit. Immediately after this, you will head to find cover (hoping you're moving away from the enemy not toward it) and then proceed to look for the enemy that is shooting you, if you haven't died yet that is. This all means that the only sounds you will hear during combat are your own blasts and the music. It makes for the most anticlimactic deaths ever, which will actually make death all the more frustrating. Let's face it, if you're going to go down in an FPS, you'd like to at least go down in a blaze of glory!

Lastly, the game suffers from mysterious disappearing sounds, especially on bits, occasionally on enemy weapons, and every once in a while on your bike. This means you'll hear them the first time an event occurs, but never again in that area. This is especially unnerving when it happens in the middle of a light cycle battle. Music can strangely disappear too, especially after you've died and reloaded the game. Basically, what you'll hear is good, but you won't hear much.

Gameplay

If you're focusing on the single player game, be prepared to watch a lot of loading screens, because if there's two things you're going to see a lot of in this game its beautiful architecture and loading screens. Loading screens occur whenever you enter a new area, or any time you die. If you're really good at the game, you'll breeze through areas in no time and have to sit through loading screens. If you're not so good at the game, you're going to die a lot and have to sit through more loading screens. Actually, even if you're fairly good at the game, you'll probably still die a lot and sit through loading screens. Why? Let me explain.

There are two major bugs / issues in the game that create one of the most frustrating game experiences I've ever had (now note, this is me personally, I can not vouch for others). The first is the slight graphical glitch that was discussed before: things tend to blend together, making everything harder to find. The second is the sound issue: specifically the fact that nothing but you ever makes any. Combine these with the fact that there's no locational damage indicator, and it will probably take you at least two to three direct hits to your person before you will figure out what is firing on you and exactly where it is. In the beginning of the game, that generally means your dead, or close to dead, and by the end of the fire fight, you'll be dead. Reload, retry, refail until you figure out just where everyone is and what you're dealing with, and then you'll get through an area. Granted, this improves as the game goes on since you will get more armor and energy, but it's still frustrating to get hit 3 or 4 times before even figuring out where the bad guys are, much less killing them.

Even without this though, the game still has its intense problems. A lot of it is made up of jumping puzzles, which wouldn't be so bad if your character could take more than a 10 foot fall without dieing. Almost every fall in this game is lethal, and there will be many a time when you're in a fire fight, fall off a ledge and instantly die. Reload, retry, refail. By the end of the game you'll be in the habit of saving after every successful battle and jump. Thankfully, there's a save anywhere function.

You'll also spend some time looking for the button in this game. Since a lot of things tend to blend together, finding the button can occasionally be a 5 minute task. By the end, thankfully, buttons are more obviously placed, and you'll be genuinely better at finding them.

The game really isn't as bad as those previous paragraphs will probably lead you to believe, but they're simple things that will quickly add up. Thankfully, between anti-climatic fight scenes and crazy jump puzzles, there's also a lot of wandering, which will make you feel strangely calm. And I suppose that's a good thing.

Replay Value

The replay from this game comes from the multiplayer, since after putting yourself through the frustration of the single player game you probably won't want to do it again any time soon, especially since the story doesn't really stand out as anything particularly spectacular. The multiplayer is a pretty standard fare, save for one game type that allows you to switch between cycles and foot soldier at will. An interesting ploy, but not terribly exciting after a few rounds.

Bottom Line:

A great graphical style, and semi-fun gameplay were not enough to save this game in my mind. The bugs, difficult to spot enemies, frustrating platform puzzle, mediocre plot and silent opponents make this a mind-numbingly frustrating game, which could have had amazing potential. If you're really into Tron, the graphical style, or self punishment, feel free to pick up a copy.

Related Links:

Official Tron 2.0: Killer App Website

-Jeff Ward




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