Wednesday, August 25, 2010

TRON Evolution Hands-On Preview

Propaganda Games is toiling away like mad on two licensed games I'm really looking forward to: Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned and TRON: Evolution. While both titles are being published by Disney Interactive Studios, core gamers in the loop are anticipating each game for a number of reasons. I got to try a bit of the PS3 version of Evolution at Sony's excellent Holiday showcase and came away impressed by what's looking to be the rare licensed movie game that goes above and beyond the call.

First and foremost, the game looks fantastic. The build was only in the early stages of being 3D enabled, so while it looked decent enough through those expensive Sony glasses, I was told that a lot more work was being done to create even more impressive use of the technology. The computer world on display was rendered in a clean, monochromatic style reminiscent of the original film (but in a much higher resolution, of course). Usually, a game that uses such a limited color palette isn't a good thing, but it works quite well for the TRON universe. That and the fact that the action flows so well I can see most players not even minding the limited use of bright colors and overly flashy effects.

Gameplay was divided into a few sections: movement, combat and a stellar Light Cycle chase. The first area was a tutorial of sorts that showed off the parkour-styled wall running and acrobatics that require some deft button pressing and precision landings. The key to nailing these sections is to quickly learn when to jump (pay attention to the environment) and when to stop moving. if you're the impatient sort of player, you'll find yourself leaping into a bottomless abyss for a quick de-rez and a short trip back to where you jumped from.

Combat is fast, fun and combo-heavy, with objects in the environment or even enemies great for scoring a nice chunk of experience points. You're armed with a handy flying disc that does some decent damage and you've an arsenal of punches and kicks styled after capoeria moves. In addition, you can chuck bombs or that familiar disc at enemies to break up groups and add some nice points to your score. The game will also feature a persistent online/offline level up system that allows you to take your character online to earn upgrade points and skill you can save and sue in the single player mode.

The Light Cycle sequence of the demo was lengthy and thrilling as I got to outrun bomb dropping carriers on a highway course packed with hazards. The road surface was being blasted in a few places, leading to jumps over gaps in the destroyed surface. additionally, huge falling debris made the road a nightmare unless a bit of braking and deft steering out of harm's way was accomplished. As you can probably guess, these aren't your daddy's light cycles by a LONG shot. What's here feels almost like a motorcycle version of SplitSecond, which is a good thing.

Propaganda is working closely with the filmmakers, so the game will both look and feel authentic to the upcoming movie. This year's TRON movie and related games are certainly going to be at least more visually stunning than the classic 1982 film and games that followed and if both new versions are well received, TRON will indeed be back as a modern classic. We'll be back with more on TRON: Evolution as the game progresses... stay tuned.

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