Tron 2.0

Review

posted 5/17/2005 by Randy Kalista
other articles by Randy Kalista
One Page Platforms: Xbox
In 1982, just as the insanely popular Commodore 64 was making headway into living rooms at $600 a pop, the movie Tron was unleashed upon a largely unsuspecting public. The three-dimensional animation was groundbreaking in scope and execution, the plot was abominably thin, and the copious volume of computer science jargon was hopelessly lost on the average viewer. In other words, a cult classic was born.

Tron 2.0 attempts to divine passage through the fourth dimension, revitalizing the stark vision that captivated theater audiences over two decades ago. If anything, Tron has purveyed a sleek and sexy rendition of a decidedly unsexy field of study (don’t hold your breath waiting for Bill Gates to be named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive.”)

Set 20 years after the events of the movie, we are given the paper thin rendition of post-collegiate angst known as Jet Bradley. Over the phone, Jet adheres to the trite old adage of “life’s too short” as he breaks it to his long-suffering father (voiced by Bruce Boxleitner--that’s “Tron” to you) that all he wants to do is design videogames. Jet hears some kind of altercation on the other end of the line then goes to investigate his father’s lab: no sign of dad. Inexplicably, Jet is digitized into a binary set of 1’s and 0’s and assembled within the romanticized neon-centric innards of the computer world. Gradually revealed is the presence of an army of programs, led by Sith-tastic looking Thorne, bent on system-wide designs of assimilation and corruption.

First and foremost an FPS, Tron 2.0 further manages to incorporate lite RPG, stealth, and platforming elements to mix up the potentially breakneck pacing of strict shooter titles. A uniquely frustrating interface of memory blocks is utilized for the placement of acquired subroutine programs, integrating a visually sparse and initially baffling setup as an inventory screen. Innovative: yeah. Damnably annoying to learn and incorporate: hell yeah. There is no effective tutorial to show you the ropes of this user un-friendly system of combat, defense, and utility programs.

The RPG aspects are far between, as the collection of build points—distributed throughout a level for collection as well as awarded for completed tasks—allow you to add to your performance ratings: health, energy, weapon efficiency, and processor (the last one reducing the time required for subroutines to complete their tasks.)

A weak level of stealth can come into play if you crouch everywhere you go, but may be enhanced by using a “fuzzy signature” program which reduces footfall noise. This noise reduction is desirable not only for closing the distance with an enemy, but because footfalls sound like Jet is stuck on a digital trampoline, creating a sort of Chinese water torture for the listener’s ears. Also, the rod (a two-handed melee weapon) may be used in conjunction with the fuzzy signature to enact a stealth kill.

By far the most effective weapon is the classic Tron disc. It will happily boomerang and ricochet itself against countless enemies, while doubling as a shield for defensive use, all for the low, low cost of zero energy depletion. Guns such as the Suffusion and the LOL (no relation to the computer-speak acronym) deplete energy stores which must be refilled at energy spheres or pools. A corruption ball will give those pesky enemy programs a taste of their own medicine, effectively shutting down their subroutines and sucking up a chunk of their health at the same time.
Page 1 of 2