Geek-culture movie 'TRON' spawns game
By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
Players must solve puzzles to bypass obstacles and access new areas.
(CNN) -- Twenty-one years might seem a long time to wait for a game sequel, but not if you're Disney.
Buena Vista Games, the video-game division of the entertainment giant, is bringing back the sci-fi cult classic "TRON" August 26 as an interactive adventure for Windows-based computers.
"TRON 2.0" is an immersive first-person action game that includes elements of racing and role-playing game genres, too.
The mix works well. Add to it clever visuals and multiplayer modes, and "TRON 2.0" stands out as a winner.
20 years later
The story takes place roughly 20 years after the events from the film, where the talented young programmer Jet Bradley is zapped into a computer mainframe to search for his missing father, Alan, creator of the TRON program. In this high-tech world, Jet finds an evil entity determined to infect Earth's computer systems by using his father's technology.
In the single-player game, Jet must travel through some 30 bizarre cyberspace locations inspired by the movie. These include the gladiatorial Game Grid, where light cycle races take place, Internet Hub City, Firewall, Corrupted Server and Power Router, to name a few.
As in the film, players have an arsenal at their disposal, but their main weapon is the disc. The left mouse button throws it straight; its path then can be controlled in mid flight by moving the mouse. The disc also can be used to block attacks with the right mouse button or as a melee weapon for close combat.
As players advance through the game, they can find or earn "build notes" and "build points." Players can use these RPG-style elements to upgrade Jet's abilities in a variety of categories, including health, energy, weapon efficiency and transfer rate of uploads and downloads.
Players also must solve puzzles to bypass obstacles and access new areas. This involves transferring energy to activate "socket switches," enabling "permission rings," reading e-mails, finding "data-stream" portals and accessing "I/O nodes" to communicate with other programs not in the general vicinity.
At various points in the story, or as stand-alone multiplayer or solo game modes, players can climb into the sleek light cycles introduced in the "TRON" and race in the Game Grid. As in the film, players must force opposing light cyclists to crash into walls or their light cycle's ever-increasing snake like tail. Syd Mead, renowned conceptual artist who worked on the original "TRON" films, designed the updated light cycles in the game.
Taste before you buy
Multiplayer options include challenging up to 16 players across the Internet in disc combat or light cycle races. For a free taste, you can download a 160-megabyte demonstration of the game at www.tron20.net.
Visual style is one of "TRON 2.0's" charming features. The game looks and sounds very much like the '80s film, with "programs" that wear glowing circuitry as suits, many grid like environments and the return of actress Cindy Morgan (Lora/Yori from the movie) who reprises her role as the artificial intelligence program, Ma3a (pronounced "mah-three-ah"). Bruce Boxleitner also returns to lend his voice to Alan Bradley, while actress/supermodel Rebecca Romijn-Stamos debuts as the sexy game bot Mercury.
Whether or not you're a fan of the movie, "TRON 2.0" oozes with style and substance. Developer Monolith Productions deserves credit for creating one of the finest and most unique PC games of the year to date.