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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Sierra

 

Developer

Inevitable Entertainment

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- Plays well Broadband or dial-up

- Highly customizable online and off

- Split-screen mode allows you and a friend to go online together

 

 

- Feels a bit out of date when compared to recent FPS releases

- Missing lots of options from PC Tribes games

 

 

Review: SOCOM: US Navy Seals (Playstation 2)

Review: Tribes 2 (PC)

Review: Halo (XBox)

 

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Tribes: Aerial Assault

Score: 7.9 / 10

 

Among the first online games to be released for the PS2, Tribes: Aerial Assault is a pleasant surprise and a good enough game, but it isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.  Supporting both 56k and broadband connections, T:AA gives every Playstation 2 owner with a network adapter a chance to get online and bust a few heads (and more than a few heads for those broadband-owning players).  

 

tribes-aerial-assault-1.jpg (128252 bytes)          tribes-aerial-assault-2.jpg (107793 bytes)

 

Tribes: AA is, ostensibly Tribes 2 for the PS2.  Unfortunately, anyone picking up Tribes:AA actually expecting it to live up to the multi-player brilliance of the PC game will be quite disappointed.  At its best, Tribes:AA is Tribes 2 Lite—sporting less maps, less vehicles, less weapons, less options, and, most importantly, less online competition.  Still, for what it is (a watered-down console adaptation of a great PC game) Tribes: AA is pretty darn good.

 

Offline, Tribes:AA is considerably more vibrant than I expected it to be.  The game contains training missions and a full campaign that can be played offline.  The campaign missions give the player an opportunity to experience a majority of the situations he or she is likely to encounter online.  None of the missions are very difficult, but some (especially the ones based on deathmatch modes) can be rather chaotic.  Of course, when a player is done with the campaign, he or she can play an unlimited number of offline matches against bots in any of the modes available online.  The number and skill level of the bots is scalable, so it is fairly easy to build a match that is challenging without being frustrating.  A really neat feature of the offline modes is the ability to play them, split-screen, with another player on the same console (with the exception of the campaign mode).  Other than straight deathmatch, players can choose which team to be on, so they can duke it out against one another or join up and take on a team of bots.

 

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For Playstation 2 owners still languishing in the world of the dial-up modem, Tribes: AA is the best of the current crop of online games.  Though dial-up users will be restricted to hosting games with a small number of participants, games of up to sixteen players are open to 56k’ers to join.  With a good connection, these matches run surprisingly well, with only the occasional bout of lag.  Smaller matches are even better.  In fact, switching back and forth between broadband and 56k, it was nearly impossible to tell which we were using in the smaller matches.

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Mode-wise, there are few surprises in Tribes:AA.  The game features Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture and Hold, Capture the Flag, and Hunter modes.  Bots can be used to fill the spots on the roster not occupied by live players, so each game remains high-action regardless of the number of participants.  Of the modes, our favorite was Hunter.  When players are killed in Hunter mode, they leave behind flags.  Other players can pick up these flags and deliver them to a node for points.  The more flags a player carries to the node, the higher the multiplier.  This makes for some “push your luck” action and players fly around with seven flags searching for the eighth for the maximum points.  It is good fun, but, unfortunately, it is the hardest mode to find games of online (at least at the time of day I chose to play).

 

tribes-aerial-assault-3.jpg (106166 bytes)          tribes-aerial-assault-4.jpg (100474 bytes)

 

I should probably point out that all of the online modes can be played two-player, split-screen.  On paper, this is a great idea (and fairly unique—Serious Sam aside), but in practice, only broadband users need apply.  With two players playing split-screen lag becomes at least twice as prevalent, making the games more of a slide-show that a free-for-all.  With broadband, however, split-screen play is usually smooth—as smooth as solo online play with 56k at least.

 

In the end, Tribes Aerial Assault is a worthy purchase.  Graphically, the game is a bit behind the curve, looking about as good as Tribes 2 on the ancient Voodoo 2 card.  The sound also is average at best.  Still, the game offers PS2 owners a chance for some online FPS action that, at the moment, they can’t get anywhere else, and for 56k users, the game is far more vibrant than the only other (strictly) action game offering—Twisted Metal Black Online, which only allows 56k’ers in matches with a single opponent.

 

- Tolen Dante

(November 28, 2002)

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