Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tribes: Ascend... PLAY IT!

Image from Tribes: Ascend's Facebook
World's Fastest Shooter.

Most Difficult Shooter. Ever.

Rated the 5th best game of 2012 by Game Front.
Seeing a speedometer in the HUD of an first person shooter excited me to say the least and then I saw a blur... and a second later I blew up. From that it was clear that Tribes had well and truly returned. Tribes is, and has always been, up there as one of the fastest first-person shooters. The sheer bliss of skiing down massive hills maintaining that momentum and simply travelling at insane speeds past enemies gives you a sense of freedom not felt in other games. Keeping that momentum going and continually moving around the appropriately sized maps is definitely essential to staying in one piece and has been since Tribes was young. The classic capture the flag, team deathmatch and rabbit quite often end up with a “peloton” similar to that of a cycling race, speeding across the map firing the explosives at each other. Inside this “peloton” is chaos, put simply, but this chaos is tamed by the skilled players and embraced by those simply there for fun.

Screenshot from Tribes: Ascend's Facebook
The landscapes are stunning, varied from tropical islands to icy mountains, the experience of gliding through the maps, each and every one, is incredible. The ease of “skiing” is implemented beautifully, the rolling hills lend themselves to the “skiing” and the jetpacks of the game but don’t appear odd or out of place. The visuals are completely enthralling, they have maintained the original style but simply improved beyond my expectations of what is essentially a free-to-play remake.

Screenshot from Tribes: Ascend's Facebook

Sliding down a hill, take out an enemy to my right, turn around and travel backwards while speeding up a hill I see a Sentinel picking his target. I send a spinning explosive his direction in vain hope and turn back to the direction I’m travelling. A few seconds later I get a kill. Unfortunately when playing as a Sentinel this is often the case, you’re fast and you can set up a beacon which jams people’s radars so you are partially hidden but you’re at an immediate disadvantage. Most class based systems give pros and cons to each class but I primarily found cons to the Sentinel, the class I initially played. Granted the sniper-style is normally the difficult one to play but in this game unfortunately it seems to be just a pointless class, very few people play it, even if they do you can guarantee they will be near the bottom of the scores. Firstly even the tank style classes, Doombringer and Brute, can still pick up some decent speed. As the Sentinel your starting weapon does such little damage that even if you’re lucky and someone comes into your line of sight it will take a couple of well placed shots to do anything... they’re normally gone before you can get one shot off let alone multiple. Then there's the maps, you’d think big maps would be great for a sniper class... because of the play in Tribes there are hills everywhere to allow you to get speed and ski around everywhere, line of sight is impossible. Then there's the other way to play the class, close combat, speed, reflexes and powerful weapons like a rail gun in quake... yea give up on that.

The game implements a very well balanced and thought through free-to-play dynamic where you can get pretty much all the content of the game for free, granted you have to be completely focused on the game for some time to get this content but its such a beautiful and well made game that there is no issue with this. If you want individual things you are also able to purchase in-game credits to in turn purchase new weapons and accessories to use in the game, you can also purchase bundles and periods of boosted experience points for yourself. All in all the free-to-play method used by Hi-Rez Studios has made a very level game without those who spend money being too advanced from those who don’t.

Simply put the game is an incredible amount of fun. Go Play It.

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