An explosion rocks the side of your head! Using your jet pack, you quickly launch 100 feet into the air. Another explosion rocks the limitless ground beneath you.
'Attack!'? Your squad leader barks out as he leads the charge into the enemy's fortress. 'Get the flag!'
Running through the labyrinthine tunnels you quickly dispatch two of your foes with the spinfusor. A quick check of your stats reveals that you're barely clinging to life. Activating the health pack, you feel the endorphins rush through your body as it is quickly healed. Grabbing the enemy flag, you launch out of the top window and tear across the sky back to your own fort as enemy fire dances around you.
'Cover me!'? You scream to your teammates as you take two hits. Leaping to your own area, your team's auto turrets turn on your would-be assassins and barbeque them to a deep charcoal color. Finally, as you place the enemys flag on your own, a sense of accomplishment flows through you. Just as you are patting yourself on the back, an enemy soldier 300 meters away perforates your head with the laser rifle.
Welcome to World War III. A full-blown, rock-em sock-em frag fest that is the closest thing to military service during times of war. Create a soldier, join one of four tribes, and cut a swath of death through enemy ranks or team up with your eternal enemies and take on the destructive Bioderm hordes.
Either way, the time for peace talks is over. Let's turn on the pain!
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
If you don't know what a first person shooter is, welcome back from Pluto. Tribes 2 is a first person shooter (FPS) set in the 40th century. Players select from a group of four tribes: Blood Eagles, Diamond Sword, Harbingers of Phoenix, and The Starwolf. It should be mentioned that there is also a fifth tribe called the Bioderms. The Bioderms are genetically made monsters that are looking to be the sole dominant species. They are the wildcard Tribe and look like they will kill the others permanently if they can't put their own differences aside.
Once a character is created and a tribe selected, players then throw themselves into the fray that is online gaming. During your initial startup, you will be asked to input a login name, a password and, of course, a CD key. Thereafter, each time you play Tribes 2, you will be asked for your password. Once the prerequisites are out of the way you should familiarize yourself with the 48-page manual. Even if you are a veteran of online 'team' gaming, it would prove wise to get the 'drop flag'? and 'communication'? keys bound as this reviewer found out (the hard way) that they are pretty important. Long gone are the days of logging in and playing the lone wolf. If you expect to win any of the battles then you'd better brush up on your teamwork.
Starting off, you create your character by selecting male/female and the voice you want them to use. More importantly however, you decide what level of armor you want your character to have. Armor choices will affect your level of gameplay and breakdown as follows:
- Scout armor -- Has low protection but is the fastest of the three. You can pilot all vehicles and use the laser (sniper) rifle.
- Assault armor -- Protection is improved, speed is diminished but you can carry an additional fourth weapon.
- Juggernaut armor -- Protection is awesome but you can hardly move. You're capable of carrying five weapons but cannot pilot any vehicles.
Tribes 2 boasts eight different games including 'rabbit' and 'siege.'? While I tried finding hosts playing these uncommon versions of multiplayer games, I could only locate servers for Capture the Flag and Deathmatch.
Primarily, I found that Capture the Flag dominated the modes of play. Basically, a player logs in and joins a game where two warring tribes attempt to infiltrate the other's fort, steal their flag and return it to their own base where their own flag is. Of course, if both flags are stolen at the same time then neither team will score until the flag thief is killed and the flag is returned to its home base. Players need to recognize the spirit of teamwork in this mode as they must defend their base from intruders, hunt down enemies who have stolen their flag, repair gun turrets that have been destroyed, lay down mines, and steal the enemy's flag. The group commander will issue orders, but players should recognize their roles. Obviously you wouldn't send a Juggernaut-armored player to go steal the flag and likewise you wouldn't want to have a scout as your sole flag defender. The match ends when a predetermined number of flags have been captured or the time limit expires. Points are awarded for capturing a flag, defending a flag successfully, killing an enemy who has your flag and killing enemy soldiers. Points are totaled and bragging rights are forged. Other roles in this mode might involve shuttling a team of assault armored troops towards the enemy's fort and setting up a temporary base while single pilot jet fighters lay down cover fire. The game is hardly limited to what each player can do.
While surfing servers I also jumped into a few Deathmatch (DM) games. Again, armor selection is important as it affects what weapons you can use. Players throw themselves into a DM level and the sole rule is "kill or be killed." Everyone is your enemy and the only way to win is make sure you kill the other players more times then they kill you. Scoring is reflected directly by kills/killed and the player with the highest total after a predetermined amount of time is the winner.
My only real beef with this game was my initial setup. The original copy of the game that I obtained was faulty and needed to be exchanged. In all fairness, this was probably not the developers' fault. However, Tribes 2 would not work without downloading the three patches that were required for a clean gaming experience. That, coupled with the fact that the startup menu wasn't as user friendly as I would have liked, made setup particularly troublesome. One problem in particular was the hidden menu in the 'Launch'? icon. To me, the launch button is the button used to start the game. In Tribes 2, however, it is a button that opens another menu that contains important setup material like controls, audio, video and such. It personally took me 60 minutes to get everything set the way I like it. This included having to restart my computer several times. Games of this caliber should really only require a maximum of ten minutes to set up.
Tribes 2 is a multiplayer only game and any one user can host a game and set the rules to his or her liking. The night before this review was typed, 946 games were on the Tribes 2 server and I found many games with a ping (how fast a player connects to a server) in the low 30's. I was happy to see so many options and games readily available.
As a side note, it's important to remember to be nice to other players on the server. Using profanity and poor sportsmanship will get you kicked off the server and give you a bad reputation.
Unfortunately, I was both pleased and disappointed with the graphics of Tribes 2. While some levels had cleverly built forts, great lighting effects and beautiful atmosphere, others look like they were throw together as a last-minute addition. Players look a tad blocky and move clumsily. Gunfire from the various rifles was clear and bright, as were the explosions of their ordnance. I personally experienced problems post-mortem where the screen would flicker as if it were trying to figure out which camera angle to display, but could never decide on one. The terrain was well-rendered, but some items, such as the edge of a body of water, would flicker and move intermittently.
The audio portion of the game was well done, with battles sounds being well-emulated. As in real-life combat, some commands were communicated to the whole team via headset while others were shouted out, allowing only those within earshot to hear the command. I was impressed. Explosions are now a staple in games like this and sound like every other explosion I've heard. Vehicle noises, on the other hand, were outstanding. The loud roar of the slow moving troop transport and the aerodynamic hum of the Shrike fighter were a welcome surprise.
Pentium II 300 Mhz, 64 MB RAM, 531 MB HD space, 4x CD Rom, Direct Sound compatible audio card, and a 3D supported 16 MB video card.
Reviewed on a Pentium III 500 Mhz, 394 MB Ram, and a Viper 770 Ultra 32 MB graphics card.
Additionally, it should be noted that I reviewed the game with a Logitech ifeel mouse with feedback function. I enjoyed the vibration of the mouse and its interaction with the game but ended up turning it off after several matches. Getting shot would vibrate the mouse and inadvertently throw my aim ever so slightly. There was nothing wrong with the mouse, however, I just felt like I had more control without the feedback. Being an optical mouse, I felt my movements were tracked more accurately and have since replaced my old ball-style mouse with the ifeel.
Earlier I mentioned that there was a 48-page manual. No, you don't have to read the whole thing, but you should definitely read the section on newblood FAQ and warrior setup.
If you like team warfare and love online gaming then this game was custom made for you. If you enjoy first person shooters, but only when single player (e.g. Deus Ex or Undying) then you won't have much fun. A person could eat away some serious time while playing Tribes 2. The appeal of online warfare with this attention to the extras (turrets and vehicles) makes this an awesome online gaming experience.