It has been almost eight years since Monolith produced this unique beauty of a game. “A neon lit beauty” called: TRON 2.0.
Due to the recent film, I assume that probably all of you are familiar with the Tron universe, the awesome Light Cycle Races and the superb Disc Fights. Regardless, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to Retro Review this early Tron game.
Not a box office hit?
I can remember it like yesterday… The excitement I felt when I found out that my favourite Disney film (Tron) was going to be made into a video game. It was quite a risk for Monolith to take on this franchise considering that the film did not become a box office hit. The movie was too unconventional. Unfortunately, the game suffered from the same effect and it did not sell as much copies as anticipated. Yet the press wrote some nice critiques at the time, often calling the game: “A work of art!” and I wholeheartedly agree with that.
Tron 2.0 is in essence a First Person Shooter (Oh noes… not another one!), yeti t is so much more. With puzzle and RPG elements, the game is perhaps more an action packed adventure game rather than an FPS. In-game you travel down the routes of the digital world, venturing inside a computer, router, server, and the internet. You are sucked into this digital world through the means of a mysterious machine after trying to find out why your father disappeared so suddenly. In a brilliantly designed universe, you are to search for the Tron code. A code containing information about your father’s disappearance. Your journey is enhance by the orchestral music that has been ported straight from the film itself. The soundtrack was written by Wendy Carlos (known from het music for `A Clockwork Orange`). The music is a rare mix of sounds from the fabled analogue Moog Synthesizer and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Black light experience
Disney’s imagination created a metaphorical representation of a complex computer, using humanoid avatars to represent programs, codes, and even viruses. It made this particular Sci-Fi story a touch more Fantasy and also a touch more human. For example: The loading screen contains a loading bar. But not the kind that fills up the screen, but one that fills up the drinks of the programs that are waiting there to be ‘loaded’. There are many more of these smart little inside jokes. If you add this to the black light and neon lit designs, you have a unique word to enjoy and venture in. Unforgettable is the level where you end up inside a computer that detects you as a threat and immediately activates its Firewall (Ed.: check out the pictures in the gallery). This leads to you not only having to battle the viruses, but also to having to stay ahead of the cindering wall of red fire that is slowly creeping up to consume you!
I already mentioned it before… the Disc. This is your main weapon, but also the most awesome weapon of them all. To begin with, this FPS does not contain an arsenal of your average Kalashnikovs. Instead, it contains anaesthetic wands, virus-balls, and a particular kind of explosive boomerang. Yet I kept switching back to the Disc. It is delightful to hurl that disc at the enemy and hearing that brilliantly designed swishing sound. Later on in the game, you are presented with upgrades for your weapons, causing them to turn into a variety of things, combined with wonderful animations, as happens with the Sniper Rifle: You break a shining rod into, causing it to transform into a futuristic rifle. Very gorgeous to see.
To vary the pace of the story, they slipped in the Light Cycle Races. A well implemented and pleasant (and addictive!) distraction. The speed and ridiculous sharp corners have been translated from the film to the game, just like they should.
This game is so totally different from all those other games. Tron leaves the safe comfort zones of what is familiar and makes you feel what an FPS can also feel like, using eccentric weaponry, smart metaphors, and its abstract neon fantasy. It has become a work of art, one that does not age and has reached cult status, just like the 1982 film. Thanks Disney and Monolith for teaming up to make this little gem. By the way! You can still get his game in the stores, as I recently spotted it in the sales corner of my local game shop for only 7 Euro (10 USD)!