Released on August 26, 2003, Tron 2.0 is a new first-person shooter game for PCs developed by Monolith and distributed by Disney’s Buena Vista Entertainment. The game is a direct sequel to the 1980 cult classic film Tron.

Recommended system requirements on the box (NOT the minimum requirements):
1 Ghz processor
32MB Direct3D video card w/hardware T&L and 32-bit color
2.4GB hard drive space

My System (Yes, I kick ass)
2.67Ghz Pentium4
512MB DDR400/PC3200 RAM
Radeon 9800 Pro 128

Story: Young Jet Bradley (Jet?!? Seriously?), the son of Alan Bradley/Tron from the original movie, has a job working with his father in R&D at Encom, the technology company that 20 years earlier had secretly developed a way to digitize people and place them in the computer world, but this technology had been lost with the destruction of the Master Control Program. When Alan suddenly disappears shortly after completing the software to run a new laser, his advanced A.I. Ma3a takes control of the laser and sends Jet into the Encom computer network. It turns out that a virus is running rampant and Jet must clear the system in order to find his father. Also in his way are the system’s security (con)scripts that are under the command of the Kernel.

Graphics: This game is simply visually stunning. The locations and backgrounds are a perfect recreation from the film. One might think that corridors filled with black spaces and solid colors might be boring after awhile, but the level designers have done such an excellent job that there’s usually something neat around every corner. The game runs the latest version of the Lithtech engine and the character models move fluidly and look wonderful. I realize that my system is a beast and that any game looks pretty good when you’re running it in 1280×1024x32, so of course your mileage may vary. If you have the horsepower to crank everything up, you’re in for a treat. This game looks as good as the movie, if not better. Seriously I can’t gush enough how cool this game looks, especially in the cutscenes.

Gameplay: Most of the gameplay is your standard FPS fare with a little bit of RPG-lite elements tacked on. All of the standard controls and movements are present and the main weapon in your arsenal is the trusty Tron disc, which can be thrown, used as a melee weapon, or held up as quick shield for defense. The rest of your weaponry is almost useless, other than the cyber sniper rifle that you might pull out once or twice. You only end up facing a few enemies at a time, but they are very powerful and usually require 3 to 4 hits from the disc until they are derezzed.

You must also take part in several lightcycle races during the course of the game, and these are just fast and hard, maybe too fast. They look great of course, but until you get the hang of it they can be incredibly annoying. Camera control is awkward, forcing you to choose between a forced perspective from behind the cycle that is very useful, but boring to look at, or a mouse-controlled camera that looks cool but is tough to control and rather worthless if you want to win the race. The lightcycle races have been made optional in the recent patch for the game, so you can skip them if you want. The races can also be accessed separately from the rest of the game in a tournament mode that features several more tracks and cycles that can be unlocked as you advance, which is a pretty nice bonus.

Throughout the game you will find different upgrades and subroutines that can be added to your character. There are 24 different subroutines that can be found during the game and these can range from jumping higher, to increased armor, or even being able to throw multiple discs that explode. However, you only have a certain amount of system memory and must pick and choose which subroutines you want to run at any given time. Randomly placed around each level are build points that allow you to increase your version number. Once you move up a full point (such as from Jet 2.0.0 to Jet 3.0.0) you are able to distribute the points among five attributes such as health and weapons efficiency. Honestly they don’t seem to have that much of an effect on how your character plays.

Comments: One of my main problems is the fact that you are simply not given enough health points to make your way through the game. Even though you can upgrade your stats as you increase in version number, there are not enough points to go around unless you pump them all into health. Your health will be depleted after about 5 or 6 hits from the enemy discs or the virus grenades, and using your disc to block is more a question of luck than skill. Learn to love your F5 (quicksave) and F9 (quickload) keys, you will be using them often.

The voice acting is solidly done. Bruce Boxleitner returns to reprise his role as Alan Bradley, and Cindy Morgan (Lora/Yori in the movie) plays Ma3a. The main baddie sounds quite a bit like Dillinger/MCP from Tron, but it is not the same actor. I kind of wish Jeff Bridges would have returned to do a cameo as Flynn, but unfortunately that character doesn’t even make an appearance. Oh yeah, and John Stamos’ wife plays the top lightcycle racer. All the program characters are very sure that the Users exist and that they live to serve them. I miss the religious debate about whether or not the Users actually existed that was present in the movie.

All of the computer references and metaphors present within the game made me giggle more than a few times, however they also made me think of System Shock 2, which doesn’t help Tron 2.0 because SS2 kicks its ass!

Overall: Tron 2.0 is a graphically superior game, however the actual gameplay elements are mediocre at best. This game might be a worthwhile buy for people that have a computer system built for gaming and are huge Tron freaks (two groups that I suspect might have quite a bit of crossover), but the average gamer is better off waiting a couple weeks months for Half-Life 2 to come out.

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