Review by JonWood007
Great for a free game!
Tribes: Ascend is the new free to play game put out by Hi-Rez Studios. While I was not a fan of previous Tribes games (I tried them, but did not like them), I have to say that this one is pretty solid and fun. The game play is unique and relatively balanced, and while a cash shop is present, the game is still fair overall for free players.
Overall, the graphics for this game are pretty good. Everything is textured pretty well, and the visual style is appealing. It kind of reminds me of Halo 3, graphically.
However, one pet peeve I have with the visuals is that they do not appear well optimized for what you get. While the game can be adequately maxed on my HD 5850, this game is unnecessarily rough on low end hardware. I mean, it looks good, but it does not look good enough to have an 8800 GT for its minimum requirements (I find x1950, HD 3650, or 8600 GT to be more reasonable for this kind of game). The environments may be large, but I see no reason to only get 30 FPS with dips on my laptop with a HD 6520g at minimum. That is what I get playing Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3 at similar settings, and they're some of the most demanding games on the market.
The controls for this game are solid. The mechanics feel responsive, and while the control scheme is different than most other shooters, it is not difficult to catch on quickly.
Game Play: 9/10
Tribes: Ascend is much different than most modern shooters. In a sense, that is what makes it good. In a market saturated with military shooters, a fast paced science fiction shooter stands out. The game takes place in the future, when interstellar travel is possible. Two human factions, Blood Eagle and Diamond Sword, are at war with one another. Multiplayer games consist of these two competing factions fighting it out in game modes like team deathmatch, capture the flag, arena, and domination. Maps are very large, and players fly around with jet packs shooting each other with futuristic weapons. There is also a skiing mechanic which works in tandem with the flying; one lifts off with the jetpack, and then can land and ski down slopes to move faster before taking off again. These skiing and flying mechanics take some practice to get used to, but are pretty fun and different when one masters them. It is very fun and satisfying to have midair battles in which players time their shots in order to take each other out. This takes a lot more skill to do effectively than the typical shooter. Players can choose from nine classes, each of which has its own play style. While only a couple are unlocked initially, it is not hard to unlock them all. Moreover, there are many upgrades one can purchase with experience in game. There is a cash shop to make unlocking such upgrades easier, but one does not need to buy anything to do well; while buying stuff makes upgrading stuff more expedient, it does not give any advantages other than that. This is a very good thing.
Fun Factor - 8/10
Overall, this game is very fun, and different from other shooters in a lot of ways. While it can get sort of old after a while (I've been playing this since closed beta, so I've been on it for a while), it's still worth playing.
Replay Value - 7/10
Currently, there are around eight unique maps for the main game mode, which is capture the flag. Other game modes may feature similar maps based off of the capture the flag ones. This is a somewhat limited selection, but at the same time, it should keep you entertained for a while. Moreover, it should be noted new levels come out pretty often for it.
Learning Curve: 8/10
This game can be fairly difficult for new players, but satisfying when one gets the hang of it. It takes quite a bit of skill to kill anyone. At the same time, kills against you often take a lot of skill on the part of the other player as well. Thankfully, there are many ways for players to be useful to the team. If you are bad at capturing flags or attacking, playing defense is useful and vice versa. There is a play style for everyone in my opinion.
Overall - 8/10
Overall, Tribes Ascend is a very good free game that is very unique and different compared to other modern shooting games. It is faster paced, uses futuristic weapons, and takes quite a bit of skill to play. It is almost like combining the scale of Battlefield with Unreal Tournament, and adding in extra mechanics to make it dissimilar from either. While it is free to play and has a cash shop, as of release, it is not "pay to win" so to speak. If you have a good computer, I highly recommend downloading it. I haven't played a free first person shooter this good since Team Fortress 2 officially went free to play.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Tribes: Ascend (US, 04/12/12)
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