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Tribes 2
Minimum specs:P233, 64Mb RAM, 3D card
Developer: Dynamix
Publisher: Sierra On-Line
Genre: First-person Shooters
Release Date:  Unavailable No Players:  Unavailable
UK price:  Unavailable PC Gamer Score:  Unavailable

Article first published: Issue 85, August 2000
Writer:  Al Bickham

When two tribes go to war, fun is surely what’s in... store.

If there’s one thing we’re spoiled for in the kaleidoscopic panacea that is the world of PC games, it’s really good first-person shooters. Of course, Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament are still duking it out in our affections; both bring stacks of character to the party, and both are tremendous fun to play. But with the likes of Team Fortress 2 humping down the horizon towards us, it’ll be a wonder if, in a year’s time, the poor abused servers that host everyone’s games don’t just pack up on us, and take a well-earned holiday. Heaven forbid...

So the next time you find yourself lording it over Q3DM9, pumping rocket after glorious, death-dealing rocket into some poor mook sweating before a monitor thousands of miles away, spare a thought for Starsiege: Tribes. It really was a fab game. Sure, it lacked the polish of its heavyweight peers, but you’ll find plenty of servers hosting games, testament to the fact that a lot of people went out, bought the game, and are still thoroughly enjoying it 18 months on. Controllable vehicles? Team-play? Tactically specialised troop-types? Mmm, we’ll have another slice of that.

And here it comes again, in the form of Tribes 2. At this stage, the game’s looking sumptuous, and the early version that developers Dynamix were showing off at the recent E3 show impressed us thoroughly. It’s not been roses all the way, though – several key staff changes over the last year have meant that development has hit a few bottlenecks, but they’ve picked up the pace again now.

Fans of the original will be delighted to hear that vehicles are still de rigeur, and the selection on offer this time around looks suitably meaty. There’ll be both ground-based and airborne vehicles to get to grips with, and knocking around in a buggy is going to be an entirely different kettle of fish to manoeuvring a weapons platform through the skies. The way in which flying vehicles handle has been altered so they can now roll and tilt, making much tighter turns and some impressive aerobatics possible.

The polygon count for all the game’s models (vehicles, characters and buildings) has been upped considerably over the original, and a range of tidy little features has been implemented to make play more intuitive and enjoyable. One of these is a rotating compass on the Head Up Display – simple, you might think – but it means that you can now plot your course when you’re in the thick of it, rather than having to take your eyes off the action to do so. New weapons and gadgets are also on the cards – we particularly like the sound of the personal cloaking devices. They don’t make you completely invisible, but it’ll be hard for your enemy to get a bead on you when you’re on the hoof; great for covert base invasions and all manner of irksome battlefield sauce.

Single-player missions are also in the pipeline, and the team is currently at the AI-tweaking stage. There have been a few problems making the bots work in full 3D – jetpacks being the major source of trouble – but Dynamix are confident that they’ve pretty much cracked it. Much like UT, the missions will give you a chance to hone your skills before diving headlong into on-line games, and will allow you to command artificial team-mates in objective-based missions.
As it’s primarily a squad-based game, Dynamix are also implementing a simpler yet more comprehensive system of communications between team-mates. The types of commands you issue will be sensitive to your location, so rather than having to type lengthy messages to team-mates, you’ll now be able to tap a couple of keys and tell them exactly what’s happening where. The command issuer is then highlighted as a waypoint on the HUD compass. It’s a simple touch, but a brilliant one.

It all sounds rather promising then, doesn’t it? And with an updated armoury, as well as a few old favourites from the gun cabinet of Tribes, we’re looking forward to some strategic specialisation and pyrotechnic braggadocio in the hardware department.

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