reviews\ Apr 1, 2001 at 8:00 pm

Tribes 2 - PC - Review

When Tribes originally came out, undoubtedly it was a revolutionary step in the online team play genre.  Tribes 2 takes the futuristic team play action to the next level and packs many notable enhancements over the previous version.  There are many new modes of game play, so no matter what your style is, Tribes 2 most likely has it covered.  An awesome new interface has been integrated, which is easy to use no matter if you're playing solo, LAN, or online.  Whether you're among the elite of the Tribes veterans or you're a newcomer, Tribes 2 will easily satisfy your need for online-based team combat.

It's hard to determine what category this game actually fits into.  It's not purely a shooting game, but it's definitely necessary to have some twitch and shoot skills when fighting with opponents.  There is some flight incorporated into Tribes 2, giving it a great deal of variability.  Lastly, a lot of strategy is involved in this title.  You can create plans of attack, set up turrets, cameras, mines, and much more.  This great variety keeps you interested in the game because you're not always doing the same thing like you are in many other games.

For a moment let's pretend that you are a newbie to the Tribes scene.  You'll most likely join your first Tribes 2 online game and be absolutely obliterated.  You will be dying almost immediately after you come back to life, as the action is pretty intense.  Do yourself a favor and go through the included training missions; they are in fact quite beneficial to a new player.  You can also create LAN games with only AI players (bots), which will let you adapt to the environment you will face in online play (without all the included embarrassment).

The controls in Tribes 2 are practically identical to those of Tribes, and they do take a little getting used to if you're unfamiliar with the game.  Basically you have the standard movement keys for forward, backward, side step left/right, jump, etc - just like a typical FPS game.  The control element that takes the most getting used to is the jumpjet, which is a Tribes original, and it is absolutely crucial in game play.  After a little bit of practice you will be able to jet around without a problem.  Many new vehicles have been added in the game, and piloting these will also take some getting used to.  These vehicles make for some very interesting game play, which other games have yet to duplicate.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the included quick reference card for all the key bindings, but don't be.  At first glance it appears that there are way too many keys to ever memorize.  There are definitely a lot of keys bound to important functions that are necessary to utilize during game play - you will gradually start to remember what each is for.  Tribes 2 offers superior voice communication, which is done through a series of key selections.  Communication is crucial when organizing attacks, reporting status, and regrouping.  If you plan to be a serious competitor, you will quickly realize how important it is to communicate with your teammates and there's no game that will let you do so as easily as Tribes 2.

Real-time voice communication is also supported - no third-party software is required.  For serious tribe battles, this is a great feature, if used properly.

There are many different modes of play in Tribes 2.  Namely they are: bounty, capture and hold, capture the flag (CTF), deathmatch, hunters, team hunts, rabbit, and siege.  CTF is without a doubt the most popular mode of play in Tribes 2, and with good reason.  I don't know if the other modes will catch on like CTF has, but they are available in case CTF isn't your thing.  When I was playing online, there were already about 700 servers available to play on (the majority were CTF).  The integrated browser allows you to collect any needed information about the servers, and you can set server filters to match your qualifications.  This makes it simple to find the exact type of game you are looking for any time.  The number of players that can get involved in these games is unbelievable.  Some games have up to 64 players and this makes game play pretty intense.  Team organization is necessary in such large games because otherwise you would total have chaos - a free-for-all (but that's okay too sometimes).

There are little red/green triangles corresponding to players and locations in Tribes 2, which really helps out during game play.  If a triangle is green, then that object belongs to your team, if it's red, then it belongs to the enemy.  This makes it possible to see players from longer distances, and the triangles also helpfully point you toward the various locations also (even giving the distance to that location).

In Tribes 2 you have the ability to customize your soldier to a decent degree.  You can determine whether you're character is a male, female, or a bioderm (a non-human creature).  You have the ability to choose the style of voice that your player uses when communicating to others.  Armor can be light, medium or heavy (scout, assault, or juggernaut), and you can change your character's tribal skin.  There are some trade-offs between the different armor levels - in order to maintain balanced play among the variety of players.  For example if you have heavy armor, your player will be much slower, but you will be able to carry more destructive weapons and you will be harder to kill than a player with light armor.  It seems as though most people choose the lightest armor because it allows for the easiest mobility, but be sure not to underestimate the potential of the other armor levels.

The weapons in Tribes 2 are very unique and allow for diverse game play.  Added were, the shocklance and the missile launcher, and many others were redone.  The classic spinfuser, which fires explosive discs, is still a personal favorite of mine.  There are also a variety of packs that you can obtain, from ammunition packs to sensor jamming packs, it's your call.  For the purpose of convenience, you are able to save many different weapon configurations, enabling you to quickly get a specific set of weapons/packs when visiting the inventory stations.

It takes some major skill to shoot enemy soldiers out of the sky - the laser rifle is about the only weapon that makes this possible.  Instead of trying to make these impossible shots, it's often a good idea to wait until the opposing soldier is on the ground and then to try to attack them (since their jetpack runs out of energy they must eventually land).  The secret to aiming in this game seems to be leading your shots.  Most likely you won't hit enemies dead-on, but instead the blast radius of your weapon will take them out.  The weapons have different ranges and velocities, and there's a different one for every occasion.

When you're onboard a vehicle you may either be the pilot or have the ability to shoot a weapon while the craft is moving; different vehicles hold different numbers of passengers.  Piloting is easy to get the hang of because the controls are similar to the regular player controls.  It's amazing to see some of the battles that have various vehicles involved along with many ground troops.

When playing a team game it's a good idea to try and decide on a role for yourself within your team, and there is a variety to choose from.  Among them are protecting your base/flag, attempting to take the enemy's flag, and destroying the enemy's equipment (generators, etc).  When equipment gets destroyed, certain functions are taken away, such as vehicle and inventory stations.

The maps are very well made, but not necessarily very complex.  They typically consist of some mountains, bridges, towers, and fog/clouds.  Most of the battling usually takes place in the open landscape, which seems to be endless.  There are elemental hazards in the different environments, such as: wind, rain, snow, and water.  These factors add a lot to the game play because often times the distance you can see is decreased, so enemies sometimes pop out of nowhere.  If you can't stand the given variety of maps, you have the ability to make your own with the provided terrain editor.

Overall the video quality is pretty good, but not astounding.  Most objects have good-looking textures and the models are pretty well made.  The large size of the environments seemed to put a major strain on my system and things were often slowed down a little.  Luckily there are many adjustments that can be made to the video, so you are able to tweak it to your liking by changing texture details, cloud layers, and many other elements.

The sound is great in every respect.  The music gets you pumped up to go take out some enemies, while the sound effects convey realistic noises of the weapons, voices, and environmental noises.  A job well done.

So how good is the actual online play, regarding lag/packet loss?  Actually from my experiences it's very smooth, even when you're involved in games with more than 30 players!  I tried the game on a 56k modem and also on a cable modem and I was impressed in both cases.  There are various connection settings that you can adjust, such as data rate and packet size.

When you sign on to the game, there is an auto-updater, which downloads all necessary game patches.  This is a great feature because it stops you from having to hunt around for new patches.  Also available in the Tribes 2 browser is chat, email, message forums in more - allowing for easy access to any information you'd ever need.  These features make it possible to find a tribe to join with little hassle; a definite plus.

If you're new to the Tribes scene, now is the time to jump on boat.  Dynamix™ has created another amazing large-scale multiplayer game that will make you realize why you play games at all.  Although it may take some getting used to the controls, Tribes 2 will provide you with endless hours of intense futuristic combat.  So what are you waiting for?  Go capture the enemy's flag, scout!


Install: Easy
This game takes up 525MB on your hard drive, but the install was surprisingly short (only about five minutes).

Gameplay: 9.5
Tribes 2 allows for some serious team-based multiplayer action.  It's second to none.

Graphics: 8.0
The graphics aren't bad in any sense, though they're not as good as they could be.  The difference is noticeable between Tribes and Tribes 2, but it's not that significant.  The slow downs are a little annoying, but you have to realize that it's pretty intensive to process all the objects in some of the huge games.

Sound: 10.0
Well-done music and spectacular sound effects.  No cheese here.

Difficulty: 9.0
In single player mode the training missions and bots will give you a challenge at the hardest level.  Online you'll find the game a little difficult to pick up because of the fierce competition, but it doesn't take too long to get the hang of.

Concept: 9.5
Not too much different than the original Tribes - and that's a good thing.  Dynamix™ has a built on a great concept and Tribes 2 will leave you begging for more.

Multiplayer: 10.0
Multiplayer is what this game is all about.  Tribes 2 does it the best, period.

Overall: 9.3


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