Developer n-Space has done a tremendous job at creating and replicating the core traits of the TRON universe and giving gamers a whole bunch of Grid Games that offer nothing but pure enjoyment. Getting into the seven different Grid games is easy and all of them have unique gameplay mechanics that feel fully realized instead of being half-baked and thrown in for the sake of it. TRON: Evolution – Battle Grids is so fun that if it was on the PS3/Xbox 360 and featured Trophies and online play it would instantly be my GOTY.
All of the Grid Games offers something interesting as no one game is alike, both in how it controls and what sort of things the player can do. For what could’ve been a fluff mode, the Story Mode is actually enjoyable and isn’t just a training mode for the individual Grid challenges. Combining the look of the original TRON and the new style found in TRON: Legacy, Battle Grids is a visually eye catching game that doesn’t falter under the hardware constraints of the Wii. Up to four other people can play the game at once. It has Light Cycles.
The Grid Tanks mode is kind of meh from a control and gameplay perspective. Not being able to play online is a bit of a downer. Would’ve been nice if you could actually see the Light Cycles get Derezzed in the arena battle via something like a replay or small pop-up window.
We already know that the Game Grid can be a dangerous and somewhat oppressive place, as evident by the adventure featured in TRON: Evolution and TRON: Legacy. But before the Grid was overwhelmed by Clu’s power and quest for perfection it was a beautiful place full of peace, free Programs and more importantly the Game Grids weren’t places where Programs were sent to die. The early days of the Grid are on full displaying in TRON: Evolution – Battle Grids for the Wii. Though it may be for the Wii, Battle Grids offers an experience that’s rich with variety, fun games and a style that definitely oozes old-school TRON. Any feelings about Wii games being gimmicky should be brushed aside as Battle Grids is 100% a TRON game in every respect and if anything is a bit better than it’s far more advanced HD counterpart.
TRON: Evolution – Battle Grids doesn’t tell the story of a Grid warrior that’s trying to protect Flynn and save the Grid from the clutches of Clu or a new virus. Instead, it keeps things really damn simple as you’re merely a Program who’s trying to become the new Game Grid Champion now that Tron has finally retired. The game does have a place in the TRON timeline as it isn’t a one-off but it also isn’t immediately TRON cannon like TRON: Evolution for the PS3/Xbox 360 can be considered. Taking place in the early days of the Grid, Battle Grids depicts a time in which the Grid was a beautiful place full of colors, unique Programs and Grid Games that are nothing but fun to play. In a way, Battle Grids is the old-school TRON game we never had.
The main jest of Battle Grids is that players can compete in various Grid Games in the hopes of becoming the new champion. The Champion aspect of the game is played out in a Story Mode in which players can create their own Program which of course crosses paths with characters like Quorra and of course the mighty warrior that is Tron. The story mode isn’t necessarily the go-to mode of the game as I was able to compete in a multitude of Grid games without having started the Story campaign.
The intro of TRON: Evolution - Battle Grids
There is a plus side to going through the Story campaign as it’s a cool mode and I was able to unlock several new things like new game arenas, modes and earn points called BITS which allowed me to upgrade my character and purchase new pieces of armor. Yes, you can fully customize your character’s armor, appearance and even their energy color and it’s pretty damn cool – even if the art style is highly stylized.
As I said earlier, Battle Grids allows gamers to jump right into the action of the Grid without having to unlock all the games. So once I booted up my Wii I found myself immediately on the Grid in a Light Cycle race or channeling my inner Kevin Flynn as I took to the Hyper Ball arena in the hopes that I wouldn’t be Derezzed – though I didn’t need to worry about Sark pushing a button that would send me to my doom. The greatest strength of Battle Grids is that the seven games based on the TRON world feel authentic and are a blast to play. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of variety that TRON: Evolution on the PS3 offered and the linearity of the Light Cycle segments but I was able to go all out in Battle Grids and become a true warrior of the Grid.
Available in Battle Grids are two Light Cycle modes (a race and an old-school arena battle), a Disc battle, Hyper Ball, Grid Tanks and two modes featuring the Light Runner (race, arena battle). That’s seven whole games in one complete package, all with full customization options such as how many people you want to play in a match (supports up to four players) and how long you wish the game to proceed. Usually when a game tries to be a jack of all trades and offer games featuring ground combat, vehicle combat and games akin to futuristic tennis it’s easy for things to fall apart and become a complete mess. But in Battle Grids everything has a level of polished to it which shows that developer n-Space took things seriously, if not because they’re all TRON fanatics but because they’re talented developers. I did encounter a few issues in Battle Grids like some of the A.I. being a tad too difficult or performing oddly when I had them on my team, but aside from that the experience I had of hopping on the Grid and competing in all these games had me smiling the entire time.
I partake in a Light Cycle arena match with excellent results.
Of course when I first got the game I immediately hopped into a Light Cycle match and I must say that I my jaw was agape the entire time since I couldn’t believe what I was playing. I did have a go with the Light Cycle battle earlier this year at E3, but entering the Light Cycle race I couldn’t believe what was going on. Being able to race down the city streets in the TRON world, take small alternate routes and eventually drive on building panels in this neon metropolis was a visual delight and a visceral experience. Both of the Light Cycle modes in the game gave me that sense of speed and power found in the movies, even if some of the A.I can be a bit cunning and ruthless – whether it’s ramming me into their light wall or knocking me off my line.
Battle Grids just doesn’t survive on the nostalgia and fun that the Light Cycle modes offer as the other game modes are equally as fun.
Some old-school Hyper Ball action.
If I had to choose my 2nd favorite I would have to say to be the Hyper Ball game. A mixture of jai alai and tennis, Hyper Ball offers a nice hectic pace throughout since I desperately wanted to perfectly aim my shot with the right power in the hopes of derezzing my opponent’s platform. Moving around in the Hyper Ball court is quite easy as all I had to do was use the thumb stick on the nunchuk, press either the A or B button to catch the ball and then flick the Wiimote when my shot gauge was in the right spot. I must admit that there were a few moments when the game didn’t respond to the flicking motions I made with the Wiimote, but other than that it was amazing to finally play this Grid Game that was so prominently featured in the original TRON.
The Disc Battle mode is a cool arena battle that somewhat reminded me of Power Stone in how intense it can be, and the Light Runner modes were also enjoyable, despite the Light Runner feeling a bit slow at times. The only Grid game that didn’t get my circuits tingling was the Grid Tanks mode. Hopping into a four-player tank battle could’ve been really fun since derezzing stuff is always a blast but it was just kind of meh. Moving around the tank was easy, but using the Wiimote to point my targeting reticule made the experience feel a bit disjointed for me as I was more focused on where I was aiming on the screen rather than where I was going. It would’ve been cool if the tank mode went old-school and featured some sort of first-person view while on the Grid, but what we have is adequate for the TRON fans who just want to blow stuff up.
The Disc Battle mode requires Grid Warriors to be on top of their game.
One may not think that the Wiimote is the best controller to drive a Light Cycle, but it’s relatively easy as I found myself holding the Wiimote horizontally and using the 1 and 2 buttons as for braking and accelerating. Playing the various Grid games and performing the small platforming elements offered in the story mode, I’m really happy that n-Space didn’t focus gimmicky control methods like flicking the Wiimote to throw an Identity Disc. If anything, Battle Grids is one of those games that is totally unlike the majority of garbage we get for the Wii as it offers simple controls, with many of the games supporting different control layouts for those playing with or without a nunchuk. Whatever hesitation potential Grid combatants have about how Battle Grids controls needs to be deleted as the game has that sweet spot of feeling tactile as every action I did was executed with no major issues.
TRON: Evolution – Battle Grids is obviously a Wii game but it just doesn’t seem like one. For one, the game looks really damn gorgeous. Sure, there are a few spots where the jaggies really show, but the glow and aura that the visuals give off is incredible and never once did I feel detached from the game because it didn’t boast the crisp visuals that TRON is known for or gave us a compromised vision. The environments offered are often huge with massive skyscrapers going into the sky or a relatively huge Light Cycle arena that has an outer ring and bridge to it. Unlike the vision of the Grid that’s depicted in TRON: Evolution and TRON: Legacy, the Grid isn’t completed devoid of color as there are tons of greens, blues, oranges and of course tons of neon looking lights which gives the game an almost retro TRON look.
I must admit that it did take me a while to get used to seeing the stylized version of Kevin Flynn which had a rather large chin, but the somewhat cartoony/stylized character designs work as a whole and I didn’t feel like the game was screaming “this is for all the six-year olds who buy Happy Meal Toys” type crowd. The stylized character models definitely won’t be something that every TRON fan accepts, but I don’t think folks will have the sentiment that our beloved TRON was ruined or sold-out to what a corporation deems to be suitable.
TRON Evolution – Battle Grids may not expand upon the story found in TRON: Legacy, but as a game for the hardcore TRON fans it shouldn’t be missed. With a nice array of content, easy to get into gameplay and a visual style that faithfully captures the look of the TRON universe, Battle Grids is almost the surprise of the year considering what it does. The only downsides I had in my adventure on the Grid was that I couldn’t venture online and take on combatants across the globe. With how it controls and the various Grid Games included, TRON: Evolution – Battle Grids definitely offers a viable direction for TRON in the video game arena that should be explored more in the future as it gives fans of TRON everything they could wish for out of a game.