Review by Grenadier

"A well-designed online FPS, but too hard for newbies."

As would be implied from the title, Tribes 2 is the sequel to Tribes (it's actually Starsiege: Tribes, but everyone just calls it Tribes). It's a multiplayer team-based FPS with no story whatsoever and no single player except the training missions.

GAMEPLAY

Tribes 2 has fairly easy mouse-and-keyboard controls, with one hand on the mouse and the other on ESDF on the left side of the keyboard. All of the keyboard controls are conveniently placed there to prevent the player from having to reach all the way across the keyboard for an essential button. The player can jump and use a jetpack, which is almost always used for fighting between players.

Naturally, being a team-based game, Tribes 2 requires coordination. So, Dynamix implemented an ultra-convenient system for giving commands quickly on the field: the voice bind system. Just press the proper letters for a command to move through the voice bind menus to tell your teammates to defend a generator, attack the enemy turrets, help you with a vehicle. . .there's even a fake swear word in the voice binds (''Shazbot!'').

In some missions, vehicles are available for players to use. Some of them require multiple players to control, such as bombers, which need a pilot, bombardier and tailgunner. Some are used by a single player, like the Shrike combat plane. Still others are unarmed and serve as a mobile point base (MPB). And some just transport players from one place to another.

Tribes 2 is completely non-linear, being an online FPS. Therefore, you don't need to pass a certain point in the game to get a special weapon, nor do you have to go through some bizarre secret to get a special weapon. You need only to set up your loadout and step on a inventory station to set your weapon and pack slots to whatever you want. There are even three armor classes, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. This system makes for great specialization within teams. Some players stay behind in the base to defend, some act as snipers to annoy and scare the enemy, some just blast their way into the enemy base, and some even sneak in under the cover of a cloaking field and blow it up from the inside. The possibilities are limitless, and requires players to carefully learn their position on a team and stick with it. There is no such thing as a player who is good at everything.

Tribes 2 also features a method by which people can create their own game types, sometimes modifications of the simple CTF scheme (Capture The Flag), and sometimes new things altogether. Note, of course, that this scripting requires some programming knowledge. Anyone can make a map, however, which is done by simply opening the map editor in the game. This is not a newbie tool, but can be figured out.

Speaking of newbies. . .don't worry, we were all one once. As in any online game, newbies will scarcely find a place within the T2 community. Veteran players will frequently find newbies (''newbloods'', by slang) doing stupid things like shooting their teammates or destroying their own bases. If any newbie starts playing this game, he will need practice to truly become a player. And it's very frustrating at first, until you learn what your place is and master it.

All in all, T2's gameplay is easy and fun. . .once you grow past the newbie stage. Once you do, it's great fun, considering that you're playing with PEOPLE and not just stupid, predictable AI. Before then, you'll suffer nearly constant beatings and reminders from veterans, but you should be patient and endure it.

OVERALL GAMEPLAY RATING: 7/10

GRAPHICS

On my nVIDIA TNT2 card, I usually leave the detail and shape settings low. That way it runs quickly, and besides, you usually don't see other players in detail anyway. When they're turned all the way up, though (I advise you don't try this, unless you have nVIDIA GeForce3 or something), they're very, very detailed.

My advice: leave the graphics settings low. There's no need for fancy textures and detailed shapes in an FPS anyway. You can usually tell what's happening if you balance them right, so what's the problem with them set low? Of course, if you really consider graphics to be an important category, this is not the game for you.

OVERALL GRAPHICS RATING: 5/10

SOUND

The music can be repetitive, but as in most PC games, you can disable the music and get a plugin (T2 players call them ''scripts'') that lets you control Winamp from within T2 while playing. This is a very welcome option, because the music isn't really all that good anyway, and it repeats--a lot.

The sound effects are very appropriate for the gameplay. Even the shrill howling of the missile lock warning is appropriate--despite how positively infuriating it is to hear. Other than this, though, no one can hold any complaint.

The voice binds are very, very good recordings. You get an option of thirteen different voices for your character's voice binds (five for human male, five for human female, and three for bioderm). There are few who have any complaint with any of them, and you can pick the one you like the most. I personally like Human Male Rouge. You will hear others' voice binds too, with whatever voice they chose. If you truly can't stand them, e-mail me and I will tell you how you can replace them. But it's very unlikely that anyone will have a complaint.

OVERALL SOUND RATING: 7/10

STORY

There is no story. This is a very strict online FPS with little more than simple combat. It's fun enough to not need one, though.

OVERALL STORY RATING: N/A

REPLAY VALUE

Well, you won't really be replaying it. You'll be developing your skills, joining clans (OFFICIAL clans, this is not like Starcraft), playing with your clans, participating in tournaments. . .etc. There's no end, so how can you replay it? There's no limit, except for the life of the T2 community, which probably won't die for another 5 years anyway.

OVERALL REPLAY VALUE RATING: 10/10

FINAL SCORES:
GAMEPLAY: 7/10
GRAPHICS: 5/10
SOUND: 7/10
STORY: N/A
REPLAY VALUE: 10/10

OVERALL SCORE: 7/10

Comments: Tribes 2 isn't a bad game by any means. The only major strike against it that it's too difficult for newbies, which is something natural to any online game. Well, if you truly want to excel over everyone else as a newbie, you have two options: bot matches and practice. Bot matches are stupid, repetitive, always the same and involve very stupid AI, so stick with practicing. The infinite replay value is great, and the controls are easy and fun to use. All in all, this is a great buy for FPS fans.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/04/02, Updated 01/04/02


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