"Tron: Legacy" is Disney's upcoming live-action movie, a sequel to their film classic. It's a sequel that keeps close track of the style of the original, full of vector lines and style. The series' classic light cycles have been in game after game (even Kingdom Hearts!), but now, two distinct games seek to capture more of the films. While most consoles will be getting an action-adventure title, Tron Evolution: Battle Grids for the Wii is getting a collection of small-scale action games. (They're too developed to be deemed "minigames.")
During our E3 demo, they showed us three of the games. First, naturally, were the classic light cycles. After selecting from a small group of character archetypes, I was deposited onto a basic open field, with only a hill in the center to differentiate it from the classic open grid of the previous entries. All the basics of light cycle play are still present, though modified for more modern form. The goal is still to get enemies to run into the path you leave from your cycle's motion.
However, a lot has changed. You only leave so much trail behind now, players respawn after being destroyed and, most significantly, if you think to do so early enough, you can jump. The game also provides for both the classic 90-degree turns and more fluid, modern turning (the latter via Wiimote tilting). Everything felt smooth and showed a clear balance of competitive style.
The second game uses the same light cycles but is a racer. Our demo course was full of overpasses, holes, jumps and chances for discovering shortcuts. The courses emphasize more traditional video game racing skills than anything realistic, so it's authentic to Tron. The game lets you perform "jukes" to each side to knock around other racers, but it only makes a player crash if he hits a wall nearly head-on. If you're at a tight enough angle to a wall or another person's lightcycle trail, you'll be pushed directly alongside it, providing a clever twist on the all-too-common drafting mechanic seen in most racers. (It's slightly reminiscent of the air trails mechanic in Sonic Riders.)
Finally, it was time to get out of the light cycle and into a tank, which is a spider-like four-legged wheeled vehicle. This mode was more of a straight-up blast-a-thon and centered on catching the power-ups that spawn on the field. This helps you gain advantages as you try to reach the target frag count before your opponents do. This game was a lot plainer than the others, but the bumpy simulated geometry kept it from becoming too simple.
Tron Evolution: Battle Grids is making good use of the Wii's ideas, providing a stack of small-scale games suited to party and group play. It stays consistent to the classic Tron style, with detailed faces amidst vector bodies, environments and items. Unfortunately, I couldn't hear how the game sounded on the show floor.
Tron Evolution: Battle Grids is coming to the Wii alongside a very different game for the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC, and the film, "Tron: Legacy," is also coming to theaters this holiday season. Though it may seem like a diamond in the rough amidst the holiday rush, Battle Grids could turn out to be a very strong and fun multiplayer title.
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