Have You Played… TRON 2.0?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy soundtrack has taken up residency on my speakers once again, so my mind naturally turns to the other time a series with far more potential than actual achievement reached great heights. 2003’s Tron 2.0 was a mixed bag for sure, but for visual style – abstract shapes, big punchy colour, swathes of otherworldly black – it remains one to beat.

It features the automythological Tron moments it needs to, of course – Light Cycles and Disc battles, the latter making the inevitable guns seem so pointless. At its best, this was Tron as we remembered it being, rather than what watching Tron is really like.

What this visually bold first-person shooter also had – a rarity even in a post-Half-Life age – was friendly characters and safe areas. Small sections from which you could glean a slight sense of life in the server. Irksome jumping puzzles and infuriating boss fights can’t take the neon shine off Tron 2.0. It tried to do so much, and it folded in so many ideas, that some were bound to fall apart in execution.

Developer Monolith is the great lost shooter studio – it came up with this, SHOGO and NOLF then found a safe space in FEAR games. This year’s Shadow of Mordor suggests a new finding of feet, but it’s a big ask to hit the heights of creativity and ambition that Tron 2.0 offered.

44 Comments

  1. DanMan says:

    Monolith is one of those studios which actually try to create something special, one way or another. I’d like them to keep it that way.

    Keep it up, people!

    • BlackCanopus says:

      This! They always made greatly varied and stylized games and that’s why I love them. They never settled with a single style or genre. Take a look at Gruntz, Blood, Claw, Sanity, Seterra Core, NOLF, F.E.A.R., Condemned, Tron 2.0, etc. and now Shadow of Mordor! What a motley collection… please keep us surprised, Monolith.

    • coppernaut says:

      Agreed. Monolith really pushed the FPS envelope with NOLF and TRON 2.0. I recently bought TRON 2.0 off Steam and it still holds up, expecially if you get the resolution mod for it. I loved that they were one of the first devs to put light RPG systems in their FPS’s. I’ve been a fan of them for well over a decade. They worried me a bit after the F.E.A.R. series since they dropped off the map and made Gotham City Imposters (decent game) and that LotR MOBA. Shadows or Mordor showed they still got it, even though I’m not even sure how many original developers are still on board. Still dreaming of NOLF 3… still dreaming..

  2. Targaff says:

    Pick up the Unofficial Patch and the Killer App Mod for hi-res goodness as well.

    • coppernaut says:

      This indeed.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        If you’ve got the Steam version, use the icon the Killer App gives you to run it without Steam, or the overlay misbehaves.

        “Why yes, I would like to take a screenshot every time I jump or crouch!”

  3. Distec says:

    I’m glad Mordor turned out so well for them, considering nobody seemed to have much faith in it. I don’t expect I’ll ever see a return to their days of NOLF, AvP2, or FEAR. But at least they’re still around.

    Tron 2.0 did indeed have its flaws, but I could overlook them for all the reasons you listed here. I remember having a very fun time with it, loving the aesthetics, and getting a geeky little kick out of every weapon and effect it threw at me. I’d love to see another game in its style.

    • KenTWOu says:

      When people are saying that Shadow of Mordor success was completely unexpected, I feel sad. When they announced it on E3, when the first journalists tried to explain the game days after, it was clear that SoM will be a game with really cool and fresh ideas. A week later they showed almost two hours long on-line presentation of open world gameplay. And that’s it! It was completely obvious that the game was almost ready and the Nemesis system will be the next big thing. But people kept saying, it’s a cheap Assassin’s Creed/Arkham City rip-off ignoring everything what was known about its core features. I had faith in it, I was really happy when people finally got it after release. Better late than never.

      • jonahcutter says:

        I remember a fair amount of cautious optimism about the nemesis system, along with observations about its obvious similarities to Assassin’s Creed and Batman. Also a good amount of skepticism about its place in Tolkien lore.

        I don’t think there was any sort of overwhelming negativity. A standard amount of gamer cynicism (itself not without justification) existed, no doubt. And people feeling protective over a beloved lore is certainly understandable.

        But the nemesis system did sound interesting to many people. Though without having actually played it, final judgement was largely withheld. And pointing out that it appeared to be a clone of Batman/AssCreed wasn’t false. Outside of the aforementioned nemesis system, it is largely a clone. Fortunately for all, it’s an excellent one.

      • malkav11 says:

        It was certainly always clear that they had big dreams for it. The thing is, I for one am extremely skeptical when people promise groundbreaking features, especially in the realm of systemic/procedural content and mechanics. It’s so very rare that they actually deliver even a quarter of what was hyped. And yet, in the case of Shadow of Mordor…nope, it pretty much is exactly what they were describing. About the only sour note is the way the Nemeses don’t really permanently die.

  4. RealWeaponX says:

    Tron 2.0 is also 50% off on Steam this weekend.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Three quid? GOT.

      And the chances of me finishing Wasteland 2 this year diminish further…

    • gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

      Hey, thanks! Bought. Haven’t played it in years. I liked it, didn’t love it, pre-ordered it, wasn’t satisifed with it overall, but for $5 it’s OK.

    • Tssha says:

      I already own it on disk (CD-ROM, not TRON disk)…but I wouldn’t mind having a copy on Steam should I lose it/lose all motivation to install from CD-ROM and patch it (not to mention finding the patch…thank goodness for The Patches Scrolls).

      Then again, spending money on something I already own…it might go to the people who made it (in some small way), and it might not. Spending money on it is a great way to encourage further support…but I’m just one consumer, and will my loonie bucks make that big a difference? Not to mention Disney would probably prefer to push the TRON: Legacy universe which I dislike…

  5. Kempston Wiggler says:

    Flaws? I don’t remember any.

    TRON was a masterpiece. TRON 2.0 was almost a masterpiece, and that was good enough for me. Unlike the strange, soulless Tron: Legacy, Monolith’s game understood what the first film was, what made it special, and dared to build upon that. For me, the Lightcycle combat gets a touch frustrating in places but I have absolutely no issue with any of the rest of it, even the boss fights. It’s simply and honestly one of my all time favourite games, a beautiful, fun homage to one of my all time favourite films.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      Yes! This game is actually one of my favorite shooters of all time.

      It’s true, the first weapon you get is more or less the best in the game (there are a small number of spots where one of the guns is actually more useful than the disc), but I never had a problem with that because the disc is so much fun to use.

      • Tssha says:

        I personally love the sniper rifle myself…not that I can’t snipe with the disk, but it’s just so fun to snipe with the rifle!

    • gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

      Well, there’s no real ending, and the jumping is bad. But other than that it’s beautiful and fun!

      • Tssha says:

        I am personally very happy with my mercury.exe screensaver. :)

  6. Retrofrank says:

    Seems that like the first movie, this game is a treasure, that only get´s appreciated long after it´s time.

    • Shadowcat says:

      My recollection is that people thought it was amazing when it came out, too. Although it did get a few patches, and I don’t remember how solid the game was at launch.

      I’m not sure it ever had true mass-market appeal, though, and I don’t think that’s changed. The sort of person who appreciates it now is the same sort of person who appreciated it then.

      And yeah, it’s awesome :)

  7. djbriandamage says:

    The soundtrack to this game is by Wendy Carlos who composed the original movie soundtrack as well, and it’s exceptional!

    • gummybearsliveonthemoon says:

      I did not know that! Awesome!

      • Danda says:

        Not really. But a couple of tracks from Carlos’ soundtrack were licensed and used cleverly, so it still feels authentic.

  8. captain nemo says:

    Love this game

  9. totem42 says:

    Picked this up on the steam the other day. Love me some TRONage. Great soundtrack to the last movie.

  10. Sandepande says:

    Loved it when it was new, and loving it now. It’s absolutely brilliant, the atmosphere is top-notch. It doesn’t even look particularly old (except for the real-life cutscenes).

    Much better than the movies, by kilometres.

  11. nimbulan says:

    I remember playing Tron 2.0. It was awesome back then, the only issue was the insane mouse sensitivity. The minimum setting is about equivalent to the maximum setting in most games. I hope the unofficial patch or the Killer App mod fixes that.

  12. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    One of the odd games that in most places hasn’t aged at all, graphically, because it was meant to look exactly like that.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Exactly. Games that try for photorealism and rely on whatever the best tech is at the time will look ancient in like five years.
      Games that find a distinct and appealing visual style will still look distinct and appealing in ten, fifteen, whatever.

      • Shadowcat says:

        Indeed; and I wish that more developers would go down this route, for that very reason.

  13. feffrey says:

    Tron 2.0 is one of my favorite games of all time. Even after 11 years (how the heck has it been 11 years?) It is still great every time I play it.

  14. Josh W says:

    I had this game, played the lightcycle mode for months (I seem to remember you could play it seperately somehow, although that might actually have been a demo). Then when I got to the main game I was determined to play it on hard, and barely got through any of it before giving up. I might try it again now I’m not so rutheless with myself.

  15. yonsito says:

    There is also a remix album of the Tron Legacy Soundtrack that is called reconfigured (or “r3conf1gur3d”). I like it even better than the original score.

  16. running fungus says:

    Yesss… Loved it since release.

  17. Wedge says:

    Still Monolith’s best work imo.

  18. Ravenger says:

    One of my all-time favourite games. The best thing is the stylized Tron graphics still look good even today, and of course modern PCs can render them at max quality and AA at framerates way faster than was possible on release.

    I’ve got two copies of this on CD – I found a mint condition one second hand in a computer shop recently – and I’ve just re-bought this on Steam in the recent sale for convenience.

    Installing the unofficial patch and the killer app mod are essential. It’s a shame these aren’t part of the Steam version by default.

    There are some niggles – I found the boss battles annoying, and in the vanilla version you take too much damage from falling small distances, but the overall experience is wonderful.

    It’s one of the few movie licensed games that is utterly faithful to the original movie, which puts in the same league as Alien Isolation in that particular regard.

    Floating around the web somewhere is the full game soundtrack. Well worth tracking down.

  19. malkav11 says:

    I think calling out Tron 2.0 – a movie licensed game – as reaching the highest creative heights Monolith has to offer is a bit much. Surely NOLF would be a much better demonstration of their creativity? But it was a great game, for sure.

  20. Lobotomist says:

    So much better than that film they made few years ago.

  21. baozi says:

    Played it back then and loved it. Was so surprised when I saw it on Steam while randomly browsing the Disney sales out of boredom a few days ago. But I’d like it to get released on GOG and am holding back for now for that reason.

  22. someloser says:

    Haven’t played the game, but the first thing I did after I watched Tron: Legacy at the cinema was walk to the nearest music store and buy the soundtrack.

  23. bill says:

    Monolith was always a favorite of mine, but I’ve never actually played this one. I always wanted to though.

    Very tempted to pick it up. Does it run ok on modern systems (win 8.1)?

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    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Aaaaand another game on the Steam Wishlist.

  25. Scandalon says:

    Yes, since it was on my long term “heard this was surprisingly good” list, and was on sale and I had steam credit…

    The use of theme is great. The UI is pretty confusing, and I’m actually finding the “gunplay” (discplay?) rather difficult…