Monday, January 3, 2011

Tron Evolution

Tron: Evolution

Developer: Disney Studios

Movie-to-Game iterations are like marrying a robot; they are programmed to fulfill a contract obligation. Nothing more, nothing less. Tron uses a tried and true template that would have been impressive on the Dreamcast. One problem...I don't care if this is a movie with a great license, we have been spoiled by better.

The story is like a side cart on a motorcycle, it assists the movie, but doesn't drive it. You play a guardian/security type employee who has to protect the creator of the Grid, Flynn, from the program counterpart Clue. Seeing as that Tron was around since the 80's I can safely say that the Matrix movies completely copy pasted the story. Movie-to-Game translations get an easy break because developers do not have to tell a story, they just need to imply a movie. Disney takes this out, but gives you enough cutscenes to know what is going on. It actually sounds like a competent story if it were a stand alone idea.

Matrix/Tron comparison chart
1. Corrupted files as the enemy/The Smith Program

2. The Isos having free will/ The programs of the Matrix having free will

3. The sudden compulsion for anyone in a bar to wear tight plastic spandex (both)

4. Flynn/The Architect

5. Matrix's obsession with green filters/ Tron's reliance on blue filters

6. A reality based on a computer program/ A city based on a game

The gameplay is...just is. It exists for the purpose of having you play a game for entertainment. I believe there is a law that all movie licensed games have to be 3rd person adventures with pitfalls galore (probably because a point and click dating game for this license would be awful). Disc throwing combos are varied and move combinations are pretty impressive. Consequently you have to use vaulting and wall climbing to get health and energy, which is a fresh technique to the ol' power up. Another law is that every game Disney touches for teenagers must have 1) a wall run or 2) giant towers to climb. The parkour influenced moves are impressive, but holy moley, you are going to die a lot. Your biggest enemy is the reloading screen because you fell off the same cliff. Your wall runs and climbing controls are not as polished as Prince of Persia and thus you will die. The same is true with the fast motions needed on the Tron cycle.

Another rule of 3rd person adventures is that 97% of them have a system where you upgrade your weapons by buying from a vendor. My question are a hired police enforcer for Tron, why aren't you being supplied with this upfront? Is the city of Tron trying to cutback on spending? Can you imagine the Boston Police Force going to vendors to upgrade their pepper spray for a baton?

Multiplayer is fresh, untouched and a worthwhile shot in the dark. As gamers we are so used to 0.03 second firefights where the first one to fire wins. In Tron your death matches are drawn out melee fights between multiple people. You can gang up on somebody or you can be a vulture and steal someone's kill. It's a death match format I have not seen before. Also, what you obtain in single player mode is what you use in multiplayer, meaning you have to bulk up on upgrades to be a better multiplayer. Not bad, Disney, not bad.

My initial impression is that this game would have thrived 4-5 years ago. Just like Prince of Persia Sands of Time, it follows the theme of: platforming--->fighting--->cutscene---->repeat. It's so segmented that it gets boring and does not draw the gamer in.

Graphics have a serious handicap and the blame lies directly on the creator of the movie in the 80's. This movie is drowning in blue tints and shades. Looks awesome in a movie, but crappy in a game. It's like living underwater for four straight hours. The other colors, yellow and orange, make guest appearances and add some starved attention. Other then that, the graphics are blah models with blah lighting. Nonetheless, expecting a huge budget and a fresh canvas from this type of license is like expecting a man with no legs to beat Michael Johnson in a foot race (without the help of a miracle). Daft Punk brings in their soundtrack from the movie, but you don't get anything quite as cool as the End of the Line bar fight music from the movie.

Rules for Disney making a sci-fi/fantasy
1. A good looking boy and girl MUST go on an adventure together (Prince of Persia, Pirates of the Carribean, Tron, Race To Witch Mountain.)

2. Someone once thought friend must turn into an enemy (Prince of Persia, Tron)

3. Parkour and/or roof jumping must be evident (Prince of Persia, Tron)

4. It must be sequel compliant (Pirates of the Carribean)

5. It can't be an original idea (Pirates of the Carribean, Race to witch Mountain, Prince of Persia)

Movie-Game translations are easy to fix because everyone has such low expectations of them.  I think Disney needs to stop thinking cash cow and start digging into their Disney magic for a game that would be as equally thrilling.  Don't use a safe template or segment your game play elements.  Give us something truly artistic and original and you might build a fan base as strong as Kingdom Hearts.

What does it mean?

Two sojourners going on a journey to find escape from the corrupted world of the Grid sounds like the story of Mary and Joseph.  Obtaining only a donkey, their clothes on their back and the promise from God, they escaped the evil clutches of a corrupted governor of Israel.  The Bible only briefly mentions the narrow escape of Mary and Joseph, but there is something about this narrative that makes the audience cheer and root for the underdogs.  Even with all odds against them, The parental units of Jesus, the hope of the world, escape from having their child executed by King Herod.  Perhaps the popularity of the theme comes from God's love of protection and the fulfillment of his promises.  Check out my favorite promise.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2

What plan does God have for you?  What are you carrying?

+ Multiplayer is a fresh approach
+ Daft Punk is on the soundtrack

- Boring segmented game play
- You will die a lot!!
- Blue, bleu, blew


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