Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tron Evolution: Battle Grids for the Wii

I'm old enough to remember both the original Tron movie and the videogame--which, back then, we played in this archaic place known as an arcade (look it up on Google, kids)--so this game, Tron Evolution: Battle Grids, based on the newest Disney movie, Tron Legacy, was, in some ways, like an old friend.

As in the original arcade game, Tron fans will be glad to hear you can ride Light Cycles, Throw Light Discs and battle Grid Tanks in Tron Evolution: Battle Grids.

Rather than the merciless spiders (Grid Bugs) I remember, there are Light Runners (cars) to race instead. I think this is a good move on the Disney and Propaganda Games' part: no nightmares for those arachnophobes out there, and also the game skews to a younger audience (sadly, Propaganda Games was closed down by Disney last month).

I played the game with the Master Strategist (the Owl) and the Suicide Shooter (the Rhino), and here are our thoughts on Tron Evolution: Battle Grids.

First off, we flet the Wii was the wrong vehicle for this game. As the Master Strategist put it, "The Wii feels like it is ten years behind the technology." For example, in the Light Runner section, you use the Wii controller, held sideways. For some strange reason, button #2 is accelerate, while button #1 is brake (which you never use). To shoot weapons, you rely on A. To me, the controls are counter-intuitive. A = accelerate in most games. But even without that impediment, directional thumbpads are far superior to the Wii controller for use as steering wheels. They do make steering wheels controllers for the Wii, but there is nothing in the game literature to indicate whether they are compatible with Tron Evolution: Battle Grids.

But putting those concerns aside, the Grid Tank section of the game offers some real enjoyment and even a bit of a challenge. The game offers you the chance to pick AI of various levels to play against in each of the game play modes, and you can choose between one and three virtual opponents. Aiming involves both moving the controller and zeroing in with an marker on the screen, like a big cross, to target your opponent. This is a bit tricky (at least for me) to master, which added to the replayability of the levels. Tough against any but the easiest AI, Grid Tank players must turn on their shields to protect against enemy tanks, lure their AI opponents onto mines or repeatedly pummel them with missiles or mortar attacks to emerge victorious. Definitely our favorite section of Tron Evolution: Battle Grids.

The Light Cycles were a bit of a disappointment, as we would have preferred an overhead camera view. You can certainly go fast enough, and the levels are large, but the size of the playing field makes it hard to gauge where you are in relation to the other cyclist(s), crucial if you are going to trap and crash them against your light trail. There is a small square, like a really simplified radar, with the relative positions of the riders, but you simply do not have time to correlate your actual vehicle with this while you are racing your Light Cycle at top speed.

The Light Discs in Tron Evolution: Battle Grids had an auto-tracking feature of some kind, which meant that wherever you were in the level, if you threw that disc you were going to hit your opponent. Thus, the game becomes more about maneuvering through the changing environment (the arena shifts, moving points on the grid up and down to create cliffs and valleys) than accuracy in aim or skill at shooting. My teen fellow testers did not approve of this. They wanted their accuracy to count for something. The auto-aim is probably best for younger players who have not yet mastered their gaming skills--but this begs the question, why is the aiming system on the Grid Tanks so much more advanced than that of the Light Discs? Not sure what the game makers were going for here.

Viv's Take: Overall, we were not impressed with Tron Evolution: Battle Grids for the Wii. We felt the Grid Tanks offered the best replay value, were not impressed by the Light Discs, would have preferred better controls for the Light Racers, and a better camera angle for the Light Cycle. We also felt that the Wii did not offer the best vehicle for the game.

TRON: Evolution – Battle Grids, rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older, for Wii has a $49.99 suggested retail price.
I received a copy of Tron Evolution: Battle Grids for the Wii for the purposes of this review.

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