Tron: Evolution Preview (PC)

As a franchise, Tron is a bit of an odd one. Despite being a cult-classic, and a landmark for 3D animation in films, apart from the 1982 film nothing else was done with the IP. Sure, there were a slew of retro spin-off games all through the eighties and nineties, but it wasn't until 28 years later that a serious attempt to expand on this pop legend was made. Now, along with the upcoming film, Tron is getting a prequel in the form of the videogame Tron: Evolution, which we managed to get some hands on time with.

We want to make one thing clear though: For a movie tie-in game, this is honestly one of the best we've seen in a long time, and an indicator of how things should be done. Talking to devs, we learned that, aside from their experience with short development times with their work on FIFA, they actually had a lot longer to work on the game than most movie tie-ins get because they were involved almost from the beginning. The fact that this is a prequel also gave them more freedom in terms of story and setting, but also the richness of the universe itself helped them craft a unique experience.

Oh, hello Olivia Wilde...

The multiplayer portion of the game is going to have four gameplay modes available, with four maps. Disintegration and Team Disintegration are the standard Deathmatch modes. Bitrunner is an odd amalgamation of gametypes. Basically, you need to find and capture the 'Bit' and hold onto it for as long as possible, as it earns you points. The flipside is it also drains your health, so you need to keep moving and keep regenerating as you do it. This can be done in both teams and all vs all. The final mode is a domination type game mode called Powermonger, which involves capturing key points to funnel power to your home hub. The map offerings are two large open maps, and two smaller close-quarter maps.

When you're talking about a Tron game however, there's really only one bit you should be focusing on - the light cycles. In the two larger maps, there's ample room to get around in your Light-cycle, and unless you're doing one of the two objective based game modes, you can duel it out with your opponents in true light-cycle style. Propaganda have really out-done themselves here, as the light-cycle portion of the game is fun, frantic and highly addictive. There's nothing sweeter than the feeling you get when you cut across an opponents path and have them slam into your light trail. Nor is there anything more exhilarating than jumping to avoid hitting someone else's light trail, free running along a wall, and then instantly back onto your light-cycle.

Now THIS is what it's all about

There is also melee combat as well, which is combo based but can be a bit tricky to master in a multiplayer environment. There's a tendency to button bash, and the auto-targeting could do with some tweaking, but it's competent. Obviously it's not as fun as the light-cycle stuff, but it's not so bad that you would deliberately avoid it. The only negative we've encountered regarding multiplayer so far is that we worry that things are going to get stale a bit too quickly with barely a handful of maps and modes. There is however a 'Downloadable Content' option, so we hope to see more available soon after launch - although it would be very cheeky of them to charge a lot for it.

Despite this being a predominantly multiplayer hands on session, we did get a bit of a go with the single player as well. This is going to be a very narrative driven experience, as it seeks to fill some of the gaps between the 1982 Tron world, and the world that exists in the 2010 film. For simplicity and so as not to confuse the consumer, the visual style is closer to the new film than the old one, but the story itself is set merely five years after the first film. It's hard to describe what the single player actually is - the devs themselves have called it a very linear experience, made up of different 'areas', but within these areas there is a degree of free-roaming equal to that of Crackdown or Grand Theft Auto. If you're good enough, you can go anywhere in an area (the only area we've seen so far is the beginning - Tron City), but considering there doesn't seem to be any point in doing so, we're not sure if it makes any difference.

Abraxes, a confirmed big bad for the singleplayer

There's not a lot else to say at this point. Your 'avatar' (called 'Anon' in the singleplayer) is persistent between both multiplayer and single-player environments. If you find you're too far behind everyone else online, go through the campaign and level up a bit. If you're stuck on a hard bit in singleplayer, go play some multiplayer matches to get that extra edge. There's also powerups you can collect, although these seem more like an afterthought and probably won't be used that much.

Whilst there are many AAA blockbusters coming out this Christmas, we definitely recommend that you try and make room for Tron: Evolution. The single-player should provide a decent enough story for you to sink your teeth into, but the real hero here is the multiplayer. Obviously, your liking of the game is probably going to be tied to your liking of the franchise over all, but there's still a lot of fun to be had here. This is one title we can't wait to get our hands on for review, even if it's only to tear up online with our light-cycle. Tron: Evolution is due out on PS3 and Xbox 360 on December 7th, with a PC release a few weeks later.

Most Anticipated Feature: If you can't tell already, it's the light-cycle combat.

Game advertisements by <a href="" target="_blank">Game Advertising Online</a> require iframes.