TRON: Evolution Battle Grids Review

By Kevin Kelly - Posted Dec 10, 2010

TRON: Evolution Battle Grids is an entirely different game than it's bigger brother on the Xbox 360 and PS3 (which is just called TRON: Evolution), and in many ways is more enjoyable. If you're looking for a TRON experience that is closer to the original film and arcade game, this is it.

The Pros
  • Cartoonish, stylized world of TRON
  • Jump right into the Game Grid
  • Fun collection of minigames
The Cons
  • Play doesn't match looks
  • Very repetitive

TRON: Evolution Battle Grids Review:

TRON: Evolution Battle Grids is an entirely different game than it’s bigger brother on the Xbox 360 and PS3 (which is just called TRON: Evolution), and in many ways is more enjoyable. If you’re looking for a TRON experience that is closer to the original film and arcade game, this is it.

Keep It Basic

TRON: Evolution for the PS3 and Xbox 360 is primarily a story-based game, meant to bridge the gap between the first movie and the upcoming reboot TRON: Legacy. Evolution was a bit heavy at times, and unfortunately, our experience with the gameplay left us cold (read my TRON: Evolution review). However, Battle Grids is much lighter in tone, has a cartoonish style that doesn’t try to mimic the film, and is basically a more enjoyable collection of mini-games. The only agenda here is to train you to become the best game warrior possible, and try to net a Championship in the process.

Battle Grids looks like a Saturday morning cartoon as well, so you don’t get the sense of dire emergency that you do from Evolution. This is clearly meant to be a fun game that tosses you lightly into Tron’s backyard and has you discovering exactly what the game grid is all about. You’ll encounter other characters from the film here, but always in a very light and fun way. You’re not in a battle to save the world here; you’re just here to have fun.

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Customize Your Program

In Battle Grids, you’re able to customize your character from the beginning: choosing the look and color of each of your pieces of armor, changing your hairstyle, deciding if you want a helmet or not, and so on. You can even decide if you’re going to be male or female, all of which is a big leg up on TRON: Evolution which doesn’t let you change the look of your player.

Additionally, each game has a piece: light cycle, disc, scoop, etc., that you can upgrade by collecting memory bits. You’ll find those scattered around the game grid and you wander around in Story Mode, or you can net them by doing battle in the game grid. They’re well worth finding, because upgrading your items is key in this game if you want to survive. For instance, when you’re playing disc-based games, do everything you can to save up and purchase TRON’s disc. It’s worth it.

Stay On The Grid

The mini-games in Battle Grids are all based on variants of gamed from the first movie. You’ll be racing light cycles, doing battle with discs, driving light tanks, and even playing hyperball, the Jai Alai-esque game where you try and derezz your opponents’ platform. Each game has several variants: in discs there’s “Grid Capture,” where you have to capture a certain number of squares to win or be holding the most when time expires. Light tanks mode has capture the flag where your tank grabs the flag, and so on.

All of the game’s modes take place in the game grid. In Story Mode you play through as your character, learning how the games work, meeting Quorra, and eventually Tron himself as you struggle to become the first Iso (a program independently born out of the Sea of Simulation) to become the Game Grid Champion. Tron has retired from competition, and oversees a portion of your training. Championship Mode puts you right in the running for the title, either with computer foes or friends in the same room.

Grid Games mode allows you to choose exactly what game you want to play, and up to four players can offline multiplayer through all of the different game types. This is the best mode to jump into if you don’t care much about the story (which is extremely light), or you just want to get right onto a light cycle and drive.

TRON: Evolution Battle Grids

Play On, Program

So, you’re probably wondering how the game plays by now. Unfortunately, that’s where things break down. While the controls are fairly simply throughout Battle Grids, with each one of the game modes allowing you to use a Wiimote alone, usually held sideways, or you can attach a Nunchuck and give yourself better control over your player than the d-pad offers.

A good example of this is in hyperball, where the Wiimote alone requires you to move around with the d-pad, while trying to track the ball and hit a button to catch it. There’s a target on the ground indicating where the ball should impact, but the d-pad will frustrate you continually and you try and clunkily steer your program towards it. Instead, plug in the nunchuck to make it a bit easier.

Another thing about the gameplay in Battle Grids: it’s hard. I was playing through the game on Rookie mode, and when you’re playing Grid Capture, the computer foes can be spectacularly brutal. They will always pursue power-ups, use them effectively, and derezz you many times over. Especially when it is you vs. three other programs. For a game with such a cartoony look and feel, I didn’t think I would have to play through some of these multiple times. If you’re picking this up for a young gamer, consider dialing the difficulty way down.

One thing I will give major kudos to this title for: driving a light cycle. In TRON: Evolution you can only freestyle drive your cycle. You make analog turns, and can’t do those awesome 90-degree snap-turns from the first film. Thankfully, when you’re driving a lightbike in Battle Grids, simply hit left or right on the d-pad, and you’ll perform these whiplash-inducing turns beautifully. And they are even accompanied by the swishBAM sound effect that you’d expect.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The Wii has no shortage of titles offering up multiple mini-games, and that’s where Battle Grids falls short. The games it does contain are fun, but they quickly grow repetitious, and you’ll find yourself wishing there was more to offer. The light Story Mode is a nice diversion, but again it quickly repeats itself too as you’re basically just learning how to play each of the game modes while getting small tidbits of a story unrelated to the movies.

What it really boils down to is five different types of mini-games (light cycles, light runners, light tanks, discs, and hyperball) with variants of each. Where are things like the Solar Sailer or some sort of Recognizer flight game? To be fair, there is an awesome Recognizer powerup in disc games that lets you unleash a direct hit from a from one of those two-pronged flying wonders, but you sadly never get to fly one in this game.

TRON: Evolution Battle Grids

Is It Tron?

As expected, Bruce Boxleitner does a bang-up job providing Tron’s voiceover, but it will only serve to make you wish this game was about Tron himself. Not a new up and coming program. N-Space did a good job of condensing the world of Tron into a cartoon, which works well for the most part. It’s just that when you’re having the crap hammered out of you by a character who looks like a reject from Kim Possible, it can be a bit bewildering. Not to mention, humiliating.

Of all the mini-games, hyperball and light cycles feel the most true to the film, although the frenetic pace with multiple cyclers on the grid at once will make you wish it was as simple as Kevin Flynn and Tron had made it look back in 1982.

Rez or Derezz?

If you’re a hardcore Tron fan, you’re going to want to pass on Battle Grids; however, as a collection of mini-games based on that world, it manages to muster enough fun and excitement for a middle of the road gaming experience. You won’t be going back to this title over and over, but the time you do spend in it is fun, particularly while playing with friends or family. Cutting off Uncle Mike with your light cycle will give you plenty to boast about at the dinner table.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?