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Publisher: VU Games Developer: Irrational Games OS: Windows 98/2000/XP CPU: 1 GHz RAM: 256 MB HD: 5 GB VIDEO CARD: DirectX 9.0c compliant 32 MB with hardware T&L and pixel shader support RATING: T

Publisher Summary

The Reign of Chaos Has Begun The ultimate high-flying, multiplayer battle experience returns with deadly new weapons, faster and more versatile flight, in-depth strategic team action and the first-ever Tribes single-player campaign. On a relentless quest for revenge, the warrior princess Julia must unravel a bloody mystery that threatens to destroy the Empire. Through the eyes of six different characters on multiple timelines, this exciting and new single-player campaign immerses you in all the violent history at the heart of the Tribes' universe.

Story

To imagine the game world, think ancient Rome transplanted to the future; the story describes periods in the lives of two imperial princesses, a mother (Victoria) and daughter (Julia). You will play as six different characters, jumping back and forth between the two generations; sometimes even playing the same events from the viewpoint of multiple characters. It's an unusual method, but in my opinion it creates a more intense, cinematic game experience. It takes about 20-25 hours to complete the story, depending on the difficulty setting and the player's previous Tribes experience. At the beginning of the game, Victoria is captured by a group of Phoenix tribals; she gradually overcomes her automatic hostility towards them and, particularly, a handsome young chieftain named Daniel Twenty years later, Julia fights to unravel the mystery surrounding her mother's past, and her own heritage.

Graphics

The graphics in this game, overall, are solidly good-looking. The different types of armor and weapons, the vast outdoor environments, the maze of halls in an imperial palace all are sharp and distinctive looking. Explosions are quite realistic, and the impressive rag-doll physics will send your enemies or you  flying. One small point that impressed me was the animation as your character, as you play, pumps another disc into the chamber of a spinfusor after each shot; it's extremely fluid and natural. The cut scenes aren't quite so good; the faces, particularly, I thought were a little too angular to look quite human. Some older games, such as Freelancer, contain much better looking cut scenes, but the T: V (that's Tribes: Vengeance) cut scenes are definitely good enough to carry on the story.

Sound

One word describes this game's sound: beautiful. The dialogue occasionally sounded just a little awkward, as though some of the voice actors needed a little more practice, but that's the exception. And the in game sound is magnificent. From the buzz of a spinfusor disc, to the whistle and massive explosion of a mortar shell, to the squeal of tires on a rover or the rumbling engine of a jump tank, to the mechanical whir of a heavy, the sound is just as I would imagine it. The soundtrack is mainly rather forgettable techno type music, but it does make a good fighting background.

Game play

The Tribes games have always been multiplayer FPS's; they were noted for such unusual features as jetpacking (just what it sounds like: all players have the ability to jet into the air and hover above the fray at least until they have to land while their packs recharge) and skiing (if a player begins to ski at the top of a hill, he will continue straight on, gradually building up speed; advanced skiers can ski down a hill, use the jetpack just enough to continue their momentum up the next hill, and so on, reaching extremely high speeds)  and of course, the series' signature weapon: the spinfusor (see the Weapons and Equipment section for a description). This addition to the series continues that tradition, with the addition of an extensive single player campaign. The enemy AI is impressive, to say the least; you'll see enemies use their jetpacks cleverly to avoid splash damage from your projectiles, and groups will split up and try to surround you. Over the course of the story, you'll receive a pretty thorough introduction to every weapon, pack, armor, vehicle, and technique in the game.

Weapons and Equipment

Here's a quick summary of the game's weapons:

Spinfusor:

The game's most well known and popular weapon, it fires a single, very accurate disc that explodes on impact.

Chaingun:

A very rapid-firing machine gun type weapon; its accuracy is lousy, but it's pretty devastating at close range.

Blaster:

A shotgun type weapon with moderate accuracy, range, and fire rate that draws on your rechargeable energy pack, rather than ammunition.

Grenade Launcher:

This weapon spits grenades a short distance at a moderately high rate, which then either explode on impact or bounce once first.

Burner:

Like the blaster, the burner draws on your energy pack; it fires a ball of plasma that explodes on impact or after flying through the air for a moderate distance; a fireball remains for a few moments, causing continuing damage to anyone that touches it.

Rocket Launcher:

Fires six small slow-moving missiles at once with limited guidance capabilities; it's very difficult to hit a fast moving target with them, but they pose a major threat to slow moving or stationary targets.

Grappler:

The grappler isn't really a weapon; it will latch on to anything it is fired at: wall, ceiling, ground, vehicle (friendly or enemy), flag, etc. Skillful grapplers can swing around interior areas like Spiderman, and can also use the grappler to rapidly change direction without losing momentum.

Sniper Rifle:

The sniper rifle uses ammunition, and it will also completely drain your energy pack; it will do much more damage with a full energy pack than with one that is partially depleted. It's the only weapon whose projectile instantly reaches the target, and only light armored players can use it

Buckler:

While held, the buckler will deflect some incoming fire; it can be thrown, and guided while in midair, and will return like a boomerang to the thrower. Only medium armored players can use it. Mortar: Fires a shell in a high arch, with a huge explosion on impact. It's great for blowing apart an enemy base, or a group of enemies; only heavy armored players can use it. Players can carry three weapons at a time, and one pack; when activated, packs can shield a player, increase a players speed, etc. There are three armor types, light, medium, and heavy; light armor, of course, will allow the player to move the fastest, but offers the least protection, while heavy (which is motorized, like a miniature mech) can take the most the most damage, but doesn't move very fast. All three armor types include an energy blade, a melee weapon you can use if you're out of ammo, or just feeling cocky.

Multiplayer

The multiplayer mode includes five game types: the classic Capture the Flag; Arena (two teams of players fight a series of rounds; each player has one life per round, and the team with players standing at the end wins the round); Fuel (two teams try to fill their fuel depot first, either by taking fuel from a neutral depot, or the enemy depot, and bringing it back to their own; or by eliminating an enemy player and taking their fuel); Rabbit (the map contains a single flag; the player that picks it up tries to survive for as long as possible; when he falls another player grabs the flag, and so on; the player with the highest score at the end wins); and Ball (think simplified football with machine guns). A large variety of maps are included, ranging from a frozen lake, to a ruined city, to an imperial arena.

Performance

It takes a fairly long time to launch the game, and then to load a level. During three separate cut scenes during the single player campaign, my PC suddenly crashed and began to restart possibly something a reinstall would fix. Other than that, however, the game ran fairly smoothly; only once or twice in large outdoor areas with many enemies did the frame rate drop during the single player campaign. During online play, with a DSL connection, I almost always was able to play with only minimal lag.

Appropriateness

MODERATE SPOILERS The single player campaign definitely had some appropriateness issues. Characters make slightly vulgar comments once or twice (example: upon finding the unconscious princess, a raiding tribal remarks, Let's see if she has anything worth grabbing beyond the obvious.). It's made clear that two unmarried characters sleep together (although nothing is shown), with a pregnancy resulting. There are a couple of rather harsh scenes, such as when Julia, as a child, sees her mother murdered launching her on a years-long quest for vengeance. Another scene shows one character stab another (a few drops of blood hit the camera), and others show dying characters with bloody faces. The actual game play, however, is completely bloodless. Overall, I was disappointed with the single-player campaign. Aside from the specific issues mentioned above, the story as a whole is a tragedy (you know, like Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy). Basically, it describes how different characters, due to terrible misunderstandings, hunt down other characters for revenge, inviting someone else to come after them, and so on. More than once, you'll play as one character, than switch to another character and try to take out the first character; by the end of the game, if I remember right, four out of six playable characters (okay, so one of them is a droid) have bought the farm. The story does end on a slightly more hopeful note, but still. The multiplayer, which is what most people will be playing this game for, had none of these issues; and as I said above, the combat is completely bloodless (although players will go flying when a grenade, etc. lands nearby). The online play is a lot of fun, and I would give it alone an appropriateness rating of A-. So, as a whole, I enjoyed the game, and would recommend it; just be aware of the issues with the single-player storyline.

Final Ratings

Graphics: A- Sound: A Game play: A- Appropriateness: C+

Overall 85%

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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