The sequel to Gabe and Tycho's favorite obsession, Tribes. It's been wildly overhyped by the fanbase of penny arcade, I think, and this lead to mixed reviews. Some people just can't run this highly demanding (system wise) game. They'll either admit the faults of their boxes, or scream havoc and send unmitigated streams of flaming, poisonous vitriol to various message boards. Some people just prefer Tribes 1, or Quake, or UT, or whatever, and are cool about it. Some people (me), bought it, can run it decently (had to turn a lot of graphic options down), and enjoy it that way. I mean, people call themselves gamers and then throw down a game when they can't run it at 1024x768x32. That's pathetic. These people aren't gamers, they're graphophiles. Gamers would prefer to play a fun game, not a game that allows them to get the most out of their Voodoo-X+-Alpha, Championship-edition-monkey-whatever. You've got to accept that a game can be a lot of fun without being graphically stunning. Look at Pac-Man. Yes, it's still addictive. Galaga? Indeed. River City Ransom is one of my favorite games, and with it's tiny system requirements, (check it out on emulator), my computer, which isn't even that special, can run it at about 80 times the speed it's supposed to go.

Tribes 2 is a facelift to Tribes 1, if I understand things correctly (I didn't play the original). It's got new vehicles (multiple passengers allow some interesting vehicular tactics), slightly different physics, and a lot of the same old, same old. It holds up to 64 people in a game, which is a testament to how far we've come in the realm of FPSs (but how far will we go... that's another node). It looks good, the weapons are fun, the voice commands are complex and handy at the same time. The interface takes some getting used to, and above all...

You're not playing Quake anymore

Just wanna add to DJuxtaposition's description (without the 'graphophile blasting' of course :) )

For those who didn't play/know tribes 1, tribes is a first person shooter. But, instead of being focused on the individual as quake and UT type games are, its extremely team based. Most gameplay types (CTF, defend and destroy) require a team to work together in order to win.
Oh, and you can just read: Tribes

Some of the improvements over Tribes 1:
More packs (item gotten at an inventory station that, when activated, performs a function (ex: sheild, repair, etc))
Land and Air vehicles (T1 only had air)
Various types of grenades (concussion, whiteout, etc)
New Weapons (rocket launcher, shocklance)
New gameplay types (Siege(think UT's assault))
Bots (some people don't like them, but they are there)

This game is both loved and reviled at the same time.

Why? Well, it's not finished....

I am in the UK and so had to wait a bit longer for the release of this game over here, and as soon as I got it, I had to download a patch. Now this is nothing new to most PC gamers, especially those games with multiplayer internet support, but this game takes the biscuit.

The game was released unfinished, many of it's 'features' (In game email and browsers) plain didn't work. The game had horrendous bugs and needed an insanely powerful system to get it even playable (never mind 1024x768x32). People who owned 3dFX cards were treated to framerates that looked more like slideshows. In fact, browsing the in-game forums I have noticed that a huge amount of people actually went out and bought a new graphics card just so they could play this game (myself included). The list of bugs was endless (from memory leakage to whole system crashes), and a constant stream of patches ensued. Tribes 2 so far has had roughly 10 patches, I say roughly because there is a noteworthy incident regarding a recent patch. One of the more recent 'updates' sparked outcry after a series of glaring bugs somehow 'slipped' past Dynamix's QA department. Not only were there huge graphical bugs like people not being able to see their own health bars, but nearly every server running the new patch crashed without fail every 15-20 minutes.
Needless to say, Dynamix profusely apologised and hurriedly released a backwards patch that reverted to the previous version.
Dynamix has become a laughing stock in some gaming circles, and there are still many people who simply cannot play this game despite having systems equal or greater than those specified on the box.

Despite all it's faults, I still love the game. It's intuitive voice commands, customisable armour, weapon types and addictive gameplay all make for a great game (even if it is just a slightly updated Tribes).

Oh, and to date, Tribes 2 has sold over 112,000 units and taken in 5.1 million dollars.

First of all Tribes 2 keeps the same basic gameplay we have all grown to know and love, but it all improves on it, greatly. They have added on top of the classic CTF gameplay some other ones such as Siege, Rabbit, Hunted, and Team Hunted.

Siege, which is my personal favorite, puts the two teams against each other in a battle for control over a base. One team must infiltrate the base and touch a control switch to win the game while the other team defends it. After successfully capturing the base the teams will then switch sides and the new attackers must capture the base in the same time or less to win the round.

The other new play styles are Rabbit and Hunted. In Rabbit One person grabs the flag and try and hold it as long as possible, the rest of the people must then kill him and get the flag. Once a new person grabs it the mayhem starts all over again. In Hunted you must kill people and grab the flags they drop and take them to a certain spot on the map to score, team hunted is the same only with two teams going at each other instead of a free-for-all.

They have really fixed up the in-game interface as well. Did you ever get stuck at a inventory station trying to decide what weapons you want with some jerk behind you yelling "Hurry up with that station!"? Well no more of that! You now have an inventory screen that you can bring up anywhere thus allowing you to configure your weapons and armor how you want them. Then all you need to do is hop on the inventory station and bam! You immediately get your items so there is no need for waiting in long lines anymore. You also get 20 spaces to configure all of your setups so you can switch equipment in a snap. You can now also arrange your weapons so you know what slot they are in, plus my favorite of all you can use your wheel mouse to change weapons yay!

Then we have the vehicles, sleek, sexy, and whole lot cooler then the original. There are six vehicles in all, the Shrike (scout flyer), Wildcat Grav Cycle, Beowulf Assault Tank, Jericho MPB(mobile point base), Thundersword Bomber, and the Havoc (troop carrier). Along with the new vehicles comes the weapons, all of the weapons have been re-designed to look more intimidating then before (except for the chain gun still looks the same). Plus they have added two new weapons, the Shock lance, which is a close range melee weapon, and the missile launcher, which can lock on to the vehicles, or players that have been using the jet packs to long and have built up enough heat. Besides those changes the game stays true to the Tribes 1 gameplay.

The game isn't the only thing that you get, there is also an entire online community built right into the game. This includes message boards, in game e-mail, chat rooms, news, and community browser that lets you look up other people and tribes. You can also create or join "Tribes" (commonly called to as clans) and you get your own message board and a special tribe tag after your name in yellow. Also there is a built in voice communication feature that lets you talk in real time with your teammates without using a program like Battlecom or Game Voice.

The graphics are nothing but incredible. The character models are smooth and life like, the buildings (though oddly designed) are awesome, and the terrain is magnificent. Of course to be able to use Tribes 2's graphics to their full potential you need a high-end computer with good graphics card and processor. Even if you don't have the best computer there are dozens of options that let you tone the graphics down so it will run better. Something new that was not in the first Tribes is that they now have added water, which you can dive under with a very well detailed splash. Once you're under water your energy will go down slower when using your jet pack and you will not build up heat. One thing that I though was cool is that you can perch yourself on a tree branch and snipe people from there.

Tribes 2 comes equipped with various music tracks for different maps. They are very well done and just improve the overall feeling of the game. Also the weapons sounds and environmental sounds are very nice and life like (you can even hear crickets in one map but they just get annoying).

Of course with every great game comes it's down falls. The initial release was very buggy although dozens of patches have fix most of them I still do get occasional crashing hear and there. Also like I said before it takes a very fast computer to handle Tribes 2 at it's highest graphics settings, although you can lower a lot of settings to get it going smother on slower computers.

Basically if you loved the old Tribes action or are looking for a huge team based FPS get this without hesitation! But remember it may take a little tweaking to get the game running smoothly.

Tribes 2

With all the flash of Quake 3 and more, while retaining the classic Tribes style, but does Sierra's sequel make the cut?

For those of you who have never played Tribes, it was a game by Sierra released in later 1998. It broke new grounds by throwing out the tired deathmatch and bringing in teamplay and tactics. Also new to the first person shooter was the inclusion of being able to choose from three armor classes and the ability to customize your layout, not to mention pilotable vehicles. Sierra's aim with Tribes 2 was to buff up the sound and graphics, bring in larger, better levels and create a more in depth on-line community and single player.

The graphics are nothing short of mindblowing, fully rendered, flowing 3D landscapes with brilliant popup distances. The movements of your enemies, and yourself, are fluid, and you even have the option of seeing your legs and even your own (and others) shadow(s). The sound was incredibly realistic (well, as realistic as could be possible) and the option to run mp3 music in the background, either your own or ones supplied by Sierra, is a welcome bonus. The in-built microphone program is also a welcome addition.

The multiplayer is utterly brilliant. Sierra opted for the full package and brought meaning to on-line community. Within the game itself Tribes 2 contains a chat client, powered by IRC, an email client called T-Mail, a browser for browsing tribe and player pages and a forum and news client. This is nothing short of amazing. All this allows easy managing of tribes, setting up of meetings etc. It is also far easier to locate "buddies" in Tribes 2 than in the original, which is a great relief. The levels themselves are huge and beautifully rendered, and cope quite well with high levels of players, making for an amazing on-line experience.

Gameplay is even more diverse in Tribes 2 with all the classic game types, Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, Capture and Hold and Defend and Destroy, but now players have access to Siege, Hunters, Team hunters and Rabbit. Siege is a version of Capture and Hold; one team starts with the objective and the other team must capture it. Play then goes to halftime and teams switch. The defending team is now on offense and must capture the objective back in less time than the original team.
Hunters is a variant on deathmatch, where no points are scored/lossed for a kill/death, however when players die they drop flags. When a player returns flags to the nexus they score points, each flag scoring cumalitive points. Team Hunters is simply in teams rather than a deathmatch.
Finally, Rabbit can be likened to Kill the dill with the Pill. One player grabs the flag and scores points for the time they hold it while all other players attempt to kill the flag holder in order to capture it themselves.

The singleplayer is vastly improved, despite the fact there are only six training missions, there is an extensive LAN section which allows a host to include up to sixteen bots, hence if one hosts a game with x number of bots one can play against the bots by themselves. This is incredibly useful for begginners, and even pros, for training purposes, or just for when you can't get on the net. Unfortuneately, the bots are a bit on the easy side and incredibly dull at times, for example, they cannot pilot vehicles, however there are patches which can be found to remedy this.

Tribes 2 also introduces new weapons, packs and vehicles. Armor classes have been simply renamed, now entitled Scout, Assault and Juggernaut armor. New weapons include the Rocket Launcher and Shocklance and new packs include the cloaking pack. Three new ground vehicles have been included, the Wildcat, an incredibly fast one manned cycle, the Jericho, a deployable base, and a Tank. The Light Transport has been dropped in favour of a Bomber and the Scout now fires lasers. The bomber and transport also include positions for tailgunners.

Despite all this, Tribes 2 really doesn't make the cut. Its system requirements, despite what Sierra will tell you, are incredibly high to run it at any standard (by today's standards) detail level or resolution. A P4 1.5 GHZ with 256 MB of RDRAM, 32 MB Geforce II MX and a 7200 RPM 40 GB HDD will struggle to get over 50 FPS running the game at 1280x1040x32 with details on full. In order to run this comfortably, realisticly, one is looking at an upgrade to 512 MB RDRAM and a 64MB Geforce II MX 400 at least. In this reviewers opinion, this is ridiculously high system requirements, yet it should not detract from the game as lower details and resolutions should suffice.
Unfortuneatly, it does, because the game was poorly made, and unfinished when it was released. Even at lower details and resolutions the game yields horrid framerates, even on high-end systems. Some hardware configurations caused conflicts, being unable to run, or causing the framerate to drop to below 10 FPS after an hour or so, while others could not run the game at any higher resolution than WIN 640x480. If one was lucky enough to have a correct hardware configuration, by the time you had reduced the resolution and details to a comfortable frame rate it looked like Tribes.

Apart from graphics, the game itself was buggy from release. The chat did not function properly to begin with, the T-Mail mis-delievered or didn't deliver at all, and the game constantly popped up with "Fatal Exception" at utterly random times. This caused frustration and irritation, and the public forum was soon filled with inflamed posts by angry customers, causing Sierra to close the forum.

Overall, Tribes 2 was a "could have been". If Sierra hadn't rushed the production and put more forethought into it, no doubt Tribes 2 would have been a brilliant game. If you can put up with constant irritations then Tribes 2 is a great game - if you have a high end system to see all the benefits. Unfortuneately, I cannot reccommend this game as it causes extreme frustration. FOR THE INCREDIBLY PATIENT ONLY!


Graphics: 5/5
Sound: 4/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Playability: 1/5
Overall: 2.5/5

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