Friday, February 4, 2011

TRON: Evolution - Battle Grids video game review (Nintendo Wii)

Note: this review is only for the Wii version of the game. The versions for other systems are somewhat different and are directed at different audiences. The Wii version is rated “E 10+”, while the Xbox and PlayStation versions (not referred to as “Battle Grids”) are rated “T”.

Why buy: fun, sci-fi, multiplayer, multi-game
Why borrow: some family-friendly games, solid graphics, some good Wii motion techniques
Why blow off: poor solo storyline play, not many customizing choices

In a world where one often asks “which came first – the movie or the video game?”, Tron simply answers, “Both”. Unlike the pod racing in Star Wars, the games in Tron are not ancillary to the movie; they are integral to it. The “Battle Grids” game is derived from the games in the movie and enjoins the player to enter into them.

The strength of this game is in its multiplayer mode. There are several games to choose from: Light Cycle Racing, Light Disc Battles, Light Runner Combat, and Hyperball. In each game, the players each choose a character, choose what they will use, and go through a basic primer on controls. Up to four players or AI bots are possible. This is where the first criticism came to light: there are only four characters to choose from and only two types of light cycles/ball launchers/discs/etc. available. Though this lack of customization is disappointing, it is not a show-stopper and it also gets players to choose quickly and get on to actually playing the game. There are ways of increasing the variety of choices, but they require significant investments in time and play (not straight out of the box).

The Light Cycle Race takes some new twists on the original from the movie(s), but is entertaining and challenging. Although it is difficult to truly go head-to-head with your opponent (like the original arcade game of the 80's) and one seems to simply run (and jump) around as if on crazy sci-fi dirt bikes, it is a lot of fun. It also uses the Wii Motion Plus capabilities fairly well.

Another game that uses the Wii Motion Plus capabilities is Hyperball. The purpose of the game is a bit murky, but it is best with four players where teamwork can be advantageous. It is not as action-oriented, but keeps a frantic pace of catching and throwing until someone misses.

One major disappointment was the disc throwing game, Light Disc Battles. It is nothing more than running, jumping, and shooting by pressing buttons, rather than throwing a disc using the Wii Motion sensor. The only major action that uses the Wii Motion is blocking. Yawn. I already have a Nintendo 64. Light Disc Battles is also the least kid-friendly as it features humanoid characters getting blasted, not cycles or tanks.

The remainder of the games are generally entertaining (though they don't use much of the Wii's motion capabilities) and may appeal to one reader or the other, but this reviewer found favorites and not-so-favorites...which is the point of a multi-game pack. This is double true for multiplayer games that get brought out when the guests come over. Easy-to-learn, not-a-lot-of-decisions, easy-to-have-fun, let's-play-a-different-one-now kind of get-togethers.

Overall, the graphics are solid. They are neither ground-breaking nor distracting, but simply do a fine job of creating the environment and projecting the gameplay.

Finally, the single-player Story mode is flat and uninteresting. It may be worth it for the die-hard Tron enthusiast who wears neon-emblazoned skinsuits, but your standard gamer will get a lot more out of a Wii Fit yoga workout.

In summary, the Tron: Evolution – Battle Grids video game for Wii is a solid, fun party game with something for everyone. The games are complex enough that their mastery is not easy and can be played for a while, but easy enough to have fun (and survive for awhile) out of the box. The focus is on multi-player fun, not gamer subtlety or sophistication.

Click here to see a demo of this game.

Disclosure: We received Tron Evolution: Battle Grids for Wii by Disney Interactive Studios to review.  The opinions I have expressed are my honest opinions and have not been influenced by the companies providing the free product.  No other compensation was received.