Developer: Irrational Games
Release Date: November 23, 2004
Back in 1998 (yes THAT long ago) a certain developer called Dynamix came into the market with StarSiege Tribes, which literally took the online community by storm. Many to date still credit the original StarSiege: Tribes as the title that made the move from regular deathmatch online action into the more organized cooperative, or an early version of team-based gameplay. A few years later, 2001 to be exact, Dynamix put their not-so-finished touches on Tribes 2, which was received with mixed feelings, not due to it being a bad game, but mainly because of a bug-infested final product plagued by performance issues. That same year, publisher Sierra shut down the developer.
Tribes is famous for its unique multiplayer gameplay, having vast outdoor environments and bright colors compared to standard FPS games like Quake, it stood out among its class. Some Tribes fans remember the disaster that Tribes 2 was, it was simply released too soon without proper testing. Tribes: Vengeance promises to change that but can it be held accountable? I think so.
As most people know by now, Tribes: Vengeance will not only focus on multiplayer action in huge outdoor environments, but also sport a full-fledged story-driven single player campaign. The story is set in the original StarSiege: Tribes universe, and although it is pretty linear in progress and outcome, it will allow you to follow several characters in different timelines (about 20 years apart).
While talking to one of the developers I was given some details on what Tribes: Vengeance holds in store for us. Since it now uses the Unreal Tournament graphics engine it shouldn't have the same problem that Tribes 2 had, just about all systems on the market at the time ran the game incredibly slow. As a positive side effect, because the UT engine will be used map making tools will be readily available immediately after some tweaks to taylor it to the Tribes world.
The developer I spoke to said that Sierra doesn't want a repeat of Tribes 2 and that they will be doing an open beta. The system that was demoing Tribes: Vengeance at E3 had a Radeon 9800TX and a P4 3Ghz processor, I caught this when the demo crashed on one of the demo terminals. The developer was confident however that it will be playable with a P4 1.3GHz and a geForce2 with 64MB of RAM with some of the settings turned down. This might be a case where the minimum requirements may be reasonable, although it may take an open beta to confirm it.
To give Tribes Vengeance a little variety on the usual "class" selection for multiplayer games, Irrational Games lets you choose between three armor types (heavy, normal and small). Each of these has its specific strengths and weaknesses, as heavy armor protects better but makes movements considerably slower, and vice versa. On top of that, you have a choice of "packs," most of which were not disclosed, with the exception of a "repair pack," which leads us to believe that you can function as a sort of engineer or medic. The inventory screen where you select your armor, packs and weapons has been enhanced over previous Tribes titles, so you can now see right away what your setup will look like, as well as giving you some minor descriptions.
The state of the game at E3 was pre-alpha and it looked pretty good, all the demo stations were networked together so it was a nice little LAN game. I got a chance to play it and the game does show promise of what a sequel to the original Tribes should be. There is something however that did seem odd to me, they might have potentially brought back an old issue where inventory stations had long lines; you now have to walk up to the inventory station, activate it, select your items, and be on your way—if this will work I'm not sure. There is a new weapon available in this new installment of Tribes, the grappler. The idea is simple, it's basically a fishing rod, except instead of harmless fish you should be able to grab opponents and vehicles to prevent their escape or possibly tag along.
In Tribes 2 we saw new game modes such as Rabbit and Hunter, Tribes: Vengeance is no different—The person I spoke to shortly after playing the demo said that there should be a few new modes from the creator of Rabbit that may make it into the game either at release or afterwards in the form of patches. He also gave us some more details on the UGM, Unified Game Mode, which basically means that each map is suitable for several specific game modes. For example, you could start with a map that initially was a standard CTF map, and a few moments later, without any major changes at all, the CTF game was changed into a Rollerball-like setup, with goals and ball included. To top it all off, you can combine BOTH game modes at the same time, on the same map.
I can't wait until the open beta and if it lives up to the promises it should be a pretty good title, then we can all ignore Tribes 2 as a bad dream.
More articles about Tribes: Vengeance