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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Sierra

 

Developer

Dynamix

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2001

 

 

- Lots of good action

- One of the best integrated menu systems

- Different vehicles to pilot

- Robust command system

- Good graphics and sound

- Control is responsive

- Easy LAN game setup

- Tutorial missions offer the basics

- Installs patches automatically

- Team tactics pay off

- Game types offer variety

 

 

- Loads of tweaking required to achieve acceptable framerate

- A monster rig is required to run this thing properly

- Long load times

- Copious lag

- Some strange bugs

- Applied three patches before play could begin

 

 

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Tribes 2

Score: 7.9 / 10

Everyone should know right off the bat that I never played the original Tribes. Heck, I donít even really remember mention of it. It just dropped off radar completely for me. Tribes 2 will probably not suffer the same fate.

There is a story thrown into Tribes 2 but itís pointless and only acts to set the tone of the game. (Itís sometime in the far future and thereís an intergalactic battle, two plot devices that have been used in 90% of all Science Fiction.) People looking for a story should make a trip to the library because Tribes 2 (T2) is all about action and multiplayer tactics.

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There are a number of modes of play: Capture the Flag, Bounty (hunt down an assigned target while watching your back), Deathmatch, Rabbit, Siege, and single and team Hunters (collect the flags of fallen targets and return them to the Nexus for points). By far the most intense battles are found with CTF, especially when 64 players are involved. I use "intense" to describe it because it actually feels like war. Team tactics win out every time so when you get separated from the group you actually feel like a sitting duck. If you donít work as a team thereís not much point Ė youíll be gunned down faster than you can say, "Saving Private RyARGGH!" Part of the challenge involved is the many vehicle types available. There are single occupancy vehicles and carpool specials. Each has there own specific control and require practice to use properly. Team tactics require good communication and fortunately T2 gets it right even though the learning curve is quite steep for the new player. Besides the keyboard commands, T2 supports voice communication. Itís a neat feature but not widely used even though it can spell the difference between 

death and success. Even though thereís great communication options available youíll be hard pressed to find people actually using it. People are so used to gunning it 

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alone that even making a run at the enemy base with two other people is difficult. For example, to quickly destroy base turrets you can "paint" a target for someone with a rocket launcher to accurately take out. But normally everyone runs around like Rambo trying to take on 32 opposing players without anyoneís help. (In contrast, the bots behave far better.) Team tactics work better over LAN since you can shout at teammates and berate the opposition.

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As a result of the one-man-army mindset, there are a lot more deathmatch servers out there than anything else. Finding my favorite mode of play, Kill the Rabbit, is difficult at the best of times. Kill the Rabbit awards points depending on how long you can keep the flag all to yourself. Itís kind of like playing reverse tag. Everyone is gunning for one target Ė whomever has the flag. It also presents the question, "Would Elmer Fudd have had more success if heíd used a Spinfusor when pursuing Bugs?"

Thereís a lot of fun to be had, regardless of game type. The jetpack is superb and behaves "realistically." Thereís nothing more fun than being hundreds of feet off the ground and engaging someone in mid-flight (and taking them out) or actually executing a co-ordinated attack. Part of the fun has to do with the fact you can change your equipment load-out without having to die to do it. To change weapon types and armor class, a simple menu listing basic equipment types is easily accessible. Select what you want then walk into an inventory station Ė Whoosh! Ė and youíre ready to go. Each load-out type (heavy, medium, light) can be modified and saved so thereís no valuable time wasted fumbling with keys while the opposing team rains death down on you. The classes, heavy, medium, and light, handle differently and are restricted in what weapons and vehicles they can operate.

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But all this fun comes with a price.

T2 is a great example of why Mr. Nash hesitates to review PC games. Get your tweaking cap on because youíre going to spend a lot of time getting things to work right. One just has to look through some of the topics on the T2 message board (integrated right into the game) to see the headaches that some are experiencing even with machines far exceeding the minimum requirements. My own experience was less than Utopia. After installing T2 it then proceeded to apply three patches to itself automatically. I like the fact it did it by itself but I raised my eyebrows at all the patches. The default settings brought almost all action to a standstill. Two or three FPS wasnít uncommon on the outdoor areas, with indoor environments not much better. Ninety-minutes spent experimenting with various settings (and there are lots of them) I managed to achieve a far better result Ė 30 FPS in outdoor action with all the bells and whistles turned off. Then there are the bugs to contend with. My inventory vanished from view regularly and in the first two hours of play the game fatally crashed at least a half dozen times. Top that off with crummy ping times and you have an exercise in pulling out your hair. Short story, it didnít run smoothly.

Some of T2ís shortfalls are understandable Ė Iíve never experienced such wide-open areas and experienced 64 player games. Basically, you can go anywhere Ė searching for backdoors and setting up ambushes Ė meaning you donít have to do the standard "go through the heavily defended front door." And even with the graphic options turned down you can still tell whatís what and how many mortars just landed on your head.

T2 has great integrated features such as email, forums, and news. (Some of the features go offline periodically for "upgrades.") It makes it easy to form Tribes with other players and keep up to date on all the news. Recently a news item was posted announcing that banning verbally abusive players was underway. I was glad to hear it. Jerks are jerks, and they get what they deserve.

As this is not a review by jury, I donít have to wait for the final verdict. Tribes 2 is fun, but if you lack the patience required to make everything move along at an  acceptable rate wait until you to can upgrade. Itís got some very good features (voice communication, integrated community options, good team action), making it a game I can recommend if youíre willing to suffer through the growing pains. Hopefully, Sierra is going to support this game the way they do Half-Life.  Tribes 2 may be destined for greatness but itís going to need some support to get there. Until then, visit a LAN center for some unmatched team play.

- Omni

 

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