Tron 2.0: Killer App

Tron, the movie, was a unequivocal flop, and perhaps rightly so. The story was flat, and the concept, while laughable now, must’ve been confusing as hell back in 1982. There is a ton of camp value in Tron the movie today, however. From unintentionally funny lines (“Can I have the rest of your popcorn?”) to embarrassingly lame character designs (see Master Control, or Moses on South Park), you’ll sit through the movie with a smile on your face, though perhaps for all the wrong reasons. There is very little camp value in videogames, though. E.T. for the Atari isn’t “so bad that it’s good”; it’s just “so bad that they buried it in a landfill”. Tron 2.0: Killer App finds itself in quite a predicament. Capture the nostalgic, campy feel of the movie, but not be the same commercial failure. Will it succeed in that program directive? Upload this review and find out!


Tron 2.0: Killer App takes place 20 years after the movie. In the movie, videogame designer Flynn is shot by a laser and sent into the computer world, where an oppressive force named Master Control is making life a digital hell for innocent programs. In the game, the same exact thing happens, except the main character and enemies have different names. Thanks, Buena Vista Interactive, you made my job a lot easier!

To be honest, there are a few cool new elements. The terminology has been updated (obviously), and many modern features have been incorporated into the familiar Tron universe. Seeing corruption, in the computer sense, reflected in the game, is pretty cool. That’s not to say it hasn’t been done better (see the end of Metal Gear Solid 2), but at least it fits in with the theme of this game.


Tron 2.0 is a first person shooter infused with RPG features. Your character starts out with a weak weapon, and even weaker abilities. There is no ammunition in this game, rather, all weapons but your first drain your energy bar (which is separate from your health bar). During the course of the game, your character can find build points that increase your version number within each stage and earn more by accomplishing objectives. While your version number is consistently changing, it’s only when the first number changes that you are allowed to increase your attributes, which include health, energy, weapon efficiency (the amount of energy a weapon saps), as well as download and disinfecting speeds.

What are those last two for, you ask? Well, since Tron 2.0 takes place in the computer world, there are no items laying about. Instead, there are different pieces of information either held by enemies or carefully tucked away in each level, which you must download and sometimes disinfect if corrupted. There are subroutines, which are best described as armor and weapons. Your character is given a limited amount of subroutine space to fit a multitude of secondary weapons and combat abilities. There are some problems with the concept- jump height shouldn’t be a choice on the scale of identify an enemy’s health level.

The other downloadable items are emails and permissions. Emails are exactly what they say, simple email messages from characters on the other side of the screen that reveal bits of the storyline. Permissions allow you to open doors, and activate switches… they’re keys, basically. Kudos to the developers for making them seem different, though. Thanks to the fact that they’re usually not frustratingly difficult to find, and that you’ll usually find a subroutine along with them, you’ll probably never curse the game for sending you on a “permission” fetch quest.

What is curse-worthy, however, is the enemy AI. Enemies, sparse on each stage even when regenerating, rarely practice anything close to smart battlefield maneuvers, regardless of difficulty. An enemy can spot you on opposite side of a room the size of a football field, nail you from where they stand with the weakest weapon , while you’re moving, for a hefty chunk of damage. And when you face off against more heavily armed enemies later in the game? Cheap Death City, USA.

The weapons in Tron 2.0 are, for the most part, well functional and semi-original. The disc is the first weapon you acquire during the game, and the one will undoubtedly use the most, since it’s the only one that doesn’t sap energy. It’s patterned like a boomerang, but it handles like one of those toy boomerangs you had as a kid- wildly moving, and often not returning to the user. The left trigger is supposed to return the disc to Jet, but it doesn’t always work too well. This might not be as big a problem if you could switch between weapons while a disc is in the air, but you cannot, and you’ll die many a death with an empty hand, defenseless, while you waited for the disc that never came back. Definitely not what you want out of your primary weapon in an FPS. The rest of the weapons are standard FPS weapons, renamed and redesigned to fit the Tron theme. Most of them are pretty cool, though the names of the weapons, while clever, err of the side of being too confusing. You may smile when you find a weapon called the “LOL”, but when you’re in need of a sniper rifle, it’s not the first term to come to mind.

The control scheme in Tron 2.0 is a passable variation of the FPS standard. The left trigger is severely underutilized, serving to block when you have the disc as the weapon, and to do f-all when you’re using anything else. Weapon swaps are assigned to the black and white buttons, while subroutine switches, email and objective checks are mapped to the d-pad. It takes some getting used to, and they could’ve easily moved some of the d-pad actions to the pause menu to make room for weapons.

The other major element of Tron’s gameplay is the lightcycle mode. The lightcycle competitions, while also present very briefly in the single player mode, is much more prevalent in multiplayer. Basically, you ride a motorcycle in an arena that produces a solid trail, and you must force enemies to ride into your trail or the wall. If you’ve seen the movie, you can see the awesome potential inherent in the lightcycle mode. Unfortunately, the game does not realize that potential. The camera in lightcycle mode is extremely difficult to set, and keeping it in a comfortable position is no walk in the park. Ride in an underpass and you’re signing your own death warrant, buddy.

The RPG elements in Tron 2.0 are, if anything, original. There are some problems with some of the subroutines, but it doesn’t mess up the game too much. Where the game really does mess up (and I do mean REALLY) is the lack of and complete cheapness of enemy characters, and the inefficiency of the main weapon in the game, at least in your hands.


Tron 2.0 is a port of a PC game that came out over a year ago, but graphically, it looks like five. The characters are very poorly detailed and are animated terribly. The design of the stages are decent, but due to the fact that the computer world is, at its core, uniform and streamlined, the stages start to look alike and ultimately, become very boring. There are some “outdoor” areas that capture your attention, but they are few and far between.


As a semi-sequel to a Hollywood feature film, Tron 2.0 is expected to have some top-class voice talent, and thankfully, it delivers. Featuring Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and returning Tron vets Bruce Boxleitner and Cindy Morgan, as well as more experienced, yet lesser-known videogame voice actors, Tron 2.0 outpaces the movie, which was atrociously acted.

The score to Tron 2.0 is decent, if a bit sparse. There are some tracks taken from the original, or at least inspired by it. Breaking Benjamin (of Halo 2 fame) also supplies a few songs, as well as some unnervingly repetitive guitar riffs for the multiplayer modes.

Where the sound suffers is in the single player mode. It’s understandable that the developers may have been going for the same kind of eerie silence of outer space for the inside of the computer world, but there are situations where have no sound effects are inexcusable. When you’re losing energy, there should be an aural indicator of it happening. When an enemy throws a disc at you, you should hear it coming, if only to find out where the enemy is. Unfortunately, there are many instances where you’ll die a silent death, spinning around to find the noiseless discs aimed square at your head.

Replay Value:

The single player mode is fairly long for a FPS, and will take you about 15-20 hours to complete on the normal setting. There’s only one ending, and the quest is very linear, so you’ll find precious little reason to warrant a second play through.

The multiplayer in Tron 2.0 is actually pretty darn good, though it is unnecessarily marred sometimes. There are disc-only duels, “derezz” death matches, lightcycle competitions and an amalgamation of all of them called overRIDE. Lightcycles are especially frustrating in multiplayer, since matches will often load with one player on the track, while others have to join in manually. In the course of that action, the first player will often hit a wall, giving the other players an unfair advantage. Deathmatches are fun, with large, nicely designed stages to do battle on. overRIDE is easily the most enjoyable multiplayer mode. Taking place in massive stages, overRIDE matches are standard deathmatches that feature the ability to get on and off your lightcycle. While they could’ve made the lightcycles a more formidable weapon like Halo’s Warthog, it’s still cool to make a hasty retreat from an intense firefight on the speedy cycles.

Xbox Live multiplayer is supported in Tron 2.0, though verifying that fact may be difficult to do. You see, the online community for this game is non-existent, with only 750 ranked members (you’re ranked after just one online match). When you factor in that that number was collected after the title was on store shelves for almost a month, you can see that finding an Xbox Live opponent may be the biggest challenge you’ll face in Tron 2.0. It’s a shame, too, since matchmaking is seamless, though online play is a little buggy. It’s the price you pay for putting an online FPS the same week as Halo 2. It’s like throwing a Tupperware party on New Year’s Eve. No one’s showing up, loser.


Tron 2.0 never seems to make it out of the gate. The combat is fun, but the AI is terrible and the primary weapon is faulty. The design is cool, but each stage starts to look the same. The multiplayer is fun, but good freaking luck finding someone to play it with you. With so many great games on the market this holiday season, there is absolutely no good reason to buy a lightly updated game that came out on the PC over a year ago. Wait for the bargain bins.