Tribes: Vengeance

Tribes Vengeance - PC review

Tribes Vengeance - PC review

Publisher: Vivendi

Developer: Irrational Games

If you cast your mind back five years you may remember the low-key entrance of the game Tribes into the world of the First Person Shooter (FPS). Released in the wake of Doom 3 , Tribes Vengeance may well be facing stiff competition in the genre when it comes to the new wave of DirectX 9 powered shooters, but it certainly manages to hold its own. It is the 12 th game set in a sci-fi universe previously known as Metaltech , Earthsiege , and Starsiege . The single player side of the game is played out through the eyes of multiple characters (you experience missions as an Imperial Royal, a Phoenix tribesman and a cyborg assassin amongst others) in a story of two princesses – a mother making choices that effect the entire universe, and her daughter, twenty years later, dealing with the repercussions of those decisions.

It is a rare thing to find a FPS that breaks the standard mould for the genre – Halo and Thief spring to mind as a couple of past innovators in the field of gameplay, with Doom 3 setting the modern benchmark for eye candy. And the intertwined storyline is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to innovation in this game. By far the greatest feature gifted to us by Tribes Vengeance is the jetpack. Best when used in short, controlled bursts, it allows an arcing leap through the skies. Limited flight! You are also equipped with ‘frictionless boots', which allow you to ski down slopes. When used in conjunction with the jetpack this can achieve both fast and smooth motion across the battlefield, sliding down inclines and up the next hill before jetting off to the next slope in your vision. And herein lies the

  Tribes Vengeance - PC review
Tribes Vengeance - PC review
Tribes Vengeance - PC review

first aspect of Tribes that makes you really sit up and take notice. It is definitely not just another cloned FPS, a direct descendent of Wolfenstein 3D , Quake , and Unreal gifted with the shiny bells and whistles afforded by DirectX 9. It has upped the ante. It has moved the battle into a multidimensional space. And the fun doesn't stop here – wait until you discover the numerous choices in equipment dispensed from the inventory station back at base.

There are three different suits of armour, ‘kinetic' (light), ‘natural' (medium), and ‘colossus' (heavy), which do exactly what they say on the tin. The lighter the armour, the greater manoeuvrability it accords, but sacrifices the protection afforded by the heavier variants. Hand grenades and an energy blade come as standard armament. In addition, there are three weapon slots on every suit of armour, enabling customisation of available weaponry to suit personal tastes. All types of armour support the seven standard weapons – spinfusor disc launcher, chaingun, blaster shotgun, grenade launcher, grappler, burner, and rocket pod launcher. In addition, there are three armour-specific weapons that can only be combined with the appropriate armour type – sniper rifle (light), buckler (medium), and mortar launcher (heavy). Once you've chosen your armour and weaponry, all that remains is to choose your enhancement pack – energy, shield, repair, and speed packs are all freely available. These give a small passive effect when worn, and can be activated to boost the effects for a short time.

The sheer number of combinations of armour, weapons, and enhancement packs means that it is possible to play any role required effectively and therefore make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. Feeling sprightly? Then get into the light armour and speed around the battlefield, taking the sniper rifle for those long-range headshots, with the spinfusor disc launcher for taking down multiple opponents and a blaster shotgun for those moments when only a shotgun will do! Then what could be better than strapping on some chunky armour, grabbing a mortar launcher and a 6-barreled rocket pod launcher and stomping outside to cause some serious damage to the enemy vehicle pool! And speaking of vehicles, Tribes Vengeance takes the view of Planetside in making them as widely-available as possible, as intuitive to control as possible, and as fun as possible! The ground-based vehicles are both two-manned, giving you the option to assume the role of either driver or gunner. Enter the machine-gun-toting rover (light buggy with machine gun) and the missile-firing jump tank (heavy tank). The airborne vehicles are the single-manned fighter pod and colossal 3-manned assault ship (one pilot, two gunners). Whilst wearing the heavy armour you cannot pilot any of the vehicles, but you can act as the gunner wherever possible. The other armours have no restrictions on the role they can play within each vehicle. When properly utilised, the vehicles can play a pivotal role in any major assault, as well as providing extra firepower back at base.

And so you are gently eased into every item of equipment through the single-player campaign. This acts as an extended training exercise, which is not to say that it is shallow. Far from it, as the lengthy storyline holds water and the missions are enjoyable and varied. But this is not primarily intended as a single player game. The whole point of games such as Tribes Vengeance becomes obvious in the online multiplayer action. Forget the four-player ‘multiplayer' game offered by id in Doom 3 , here we're talking full on 32-player action! Intense teamwork is the name of the game, with two teams competing in any of five standard game types – arena, ball, fuel, rabbit, and capture the flag. There is the option for you to create preset customised equipment ‘loadouts' for the inventory station in order for you to quickly select the necessary equipment for any situation – a great addition given the number of variants available. With multiplayer action of this calibre, there is a foreseeable lifespan offered by this game. So play Doom 3 , marvel at the visual beauty it throws at you, then ask yourself this: does it have jetpacks??!


9 out of 10

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