Tron is a classic 1982 movie about video gaming with music that could only (politely) be described as of the times. The game spawned two arcade machines of its own and countless early licensed console variants, but now it’s back in a Lithtech-engine powered First Person Shooter developed by Monolith, 21 years after the release of the film.
You’re not Flynn or Tron themselves this time however; you are Jet Bradley, son of original Tron developer Alan Bradley who like Flynn, gets sucked into the world of the computer. The story will send him around servers, getting attacked by other system dwellers including viruses and at times Bradley will find himself in the thirdperson light cycle arenas instead of wandering around in combat, all in his quest to fix the system and get out alive.
Which is where it started to go wrong for us. Despite being the pioneering movie with a 17-year head start there’s no escaping the fact that the Matrix movies have come along and done the humans-fighting-within-computer-system scenario with an unbeatable level of cool that was always missing from Tron. This is strange as this resulting game’s graphics and execution beat Enter The Matrix hands down.
Your chief weapon is the disk and although you have 11 others, a lot of the time the disk (all weapons can be upgraded and the disk will become guided at top level) is all you need. Fresh from the Tomb Raider series is the hated lethal platform drop. With Lara we’ve had seven years and six games to get used to it. For anyone else to deliberately code this into a game is breathtakingly bad design disguised as a challenge- when Halo would simply halve your health - given that game’s relative difficulty, still a death sentence but you’d be left with a fighting chance. Here in the machine world, even a lower platform can kill you, never mind an open drop into space, which you’d understand.
To be absolutely fair, if you can suspend your disbelief for The Matrix series then Tron shouldn’t be a suspension too far- voices are well acted, the music kills the risible original score and it’s a good companion to the movie. The graphics are great and in multiplayer, Light Cycle duels are challenging when requiring you to control the camera as well as the bike, and the disc duels also keep you on your toes in levels with drops of any size, as you can easily kill yourself before your opponent.
It's a shame that Tron 2.0's prospects were damaged by a month-long delay in an empty summer when the game could have sold happily to bored gamers everywhere, especially over the summer bank holiday. By now the game will have dropped in price slightly. Download any of the demos first if you're unsure, but Tron 2.0 is that different to any first person shooter released this year (a further step from, for example, the cel-shaded XIII) that it warrants investigation if you're bored with games of the moment. Much like the movie, the ideas come across well even if in some areas, the final execution wasn't perfect.