Jan 24, 2012

Tribes: Ascend

SHAZBOT, SHAZBOT, SHAZBOT!

Let me start by saying that Tribes Ascend is NOT a Tribes sequel. It has the core components of a Tribes game and the rest of the game is tweaked for a different crowd.

Story: Nonexistent. Before or after a game your team's leader (known only by a voice) will say something about war and the invaders or how you should either take the land or kick the invaders out. Don't worry, you won't need the story anyway.

Visuals: This game looks amazing. The vibrant colors set the game apart from a lot of new shooters where every thing is realistic or greyish. When you get shot your screen temporarily cracks as if you were in a mechanical suit that is being torn apart. It only lasts a split second and does not distract from the game. I enjoy it.

Gameplay:
For those who have never played a Tribes game before, the game revolves around 1 thing : skiing. When you go downhill you ski (hold Space) to pick up speed. When you go uphill you jetpack (right mouse button) to keep your speed. You try to aim your trajectory so you land on another downhill so you can ski again. This is how you get around maps fast.

Right now there are 3 game modes. Classic CTF is the most popular. Rabbit is everyone against one man. A flag spawns and whoever grabs it 1st slowly accumulates points. They also get points for kills. In order to score points you must kill the flag carrier and pick up the flag. Team Death Match is exactly like it sounds. The only twist is the 1st person who dies drops a flag. Any team can grab the flag. While your teammate holds the flag every kill is doubled. Each team starts with 75 lives. If your team has the flag and you kill an enemy then they have 73 lives left instead of 74.

There are base assets in CTF mode, but the other modes only have inventory stations. Base assets include automated base turrets, sensors to detect enemies, vehicle pads that let you spawn a vehicle, inventory stations that refill ammo and allow you to change classes without dieing, and a generator that powers it all. Each asset (except the vehicle and inventory stations) can be destroyed. They will not work again until someone repairs them. The technician class has a repair tool, and each base also has a few locations with repair tools so you can pick one up and start repairing. These repair tools are close to the generator and a couple of other places around the base.

The best thing to do is destroy the enemy generator. Without it online nothing in the base will work. Then your team can tear apart the turrets without any resistance. Be careful, as once you destroy the generator the enemy team will be alerted and you can expect a small army to come repair it.

Something that has been added to the series is upgrading your base. Everything starts at level 1. You use credits (which you earn from kills, repairs, flag grabs/returns) to upgrade the assets. Each thing can be upgraded to level 4, with each level granting more health, damage, or range. It is imperative to upgrade your generator 1st. At level 1 an infiltrator (has cloak pack) can run straight to the generators and destroy them within a few seconds. At level 4 it takes much longer.

To any Tribes veterans the game will feel dumbed down quite a bit. You can no longer choose what weapons and packs you want. Instead the game has 12 prebuilt classes (4 light, 5 medium, 3 heavy). The heavier the class the more health they have but the slower they move. Each class comes with 2 weapons, a pack, and a grenade. Some of the weapons are very similar (there's 4 versions of a spin fusor). A few of the classes have the same grenade. And some of the packs are very similar also. One class has an energy pack while another has a light energy pack. Other than that each class has unique packs and each one will feel like a different experience. All in all there are a lot of different weapons, packs, and grenades that you will have to approach each class differently.

Another point veterans will miss is the ability to swap turret types. You are stuck with one turret in this game, which shoots a moderately moving ball of energy. It is easily faked out by strafing to one side then moving the other way as soon as it shoots. In the end it does an average job of deterring would-be base rapers or flag grabbers from just waltzing in your base.

Base defense can be a pain. It is a full time job. The enemy can infiltrate your base and destroy your turrets and generator so fast that sometimes it can feel like it hurts your team more trying to have a defense than if you just sent everyone on offense.

Perhaps the most annoying thing in the game are the people complaining about hitscan weapons. You will probably see someone complaining about it every single game and some people will complain every 30 seconds. It can be very distracting and sometimes I wish I could mute chat.

There are some other minor annoyances. For example if your generator is down then the technician's deployed anti personnel turrets will not function either. This is a huge contradiction to the rest of the series where your deployed turrets were always on unless destroyed. Furthermore, you can no longer just spawn a vehicle. You have to purchase a vehicles using credits. This can be aggravating as the 1st few times you spawn a vehicle will no doubt be to learn how to pilot it, only to drive around for a minute and be destroyed.

There are good additions to the series. One of my favorite things are the call-ins. Every class has the same call in. You use credits to activate a call-in. You aim a targeting laser at a location for about 5 seconds and the strike package comes down. Right now there are 3. The 1st one is a tactical strike that shoots down 3 powerful mortars in a tight area. It can take out a level 4 turret in 1 shot. It is great to shoot it at the enemy flag stand right before your teammate swoops in for a grab or to safely dispatch turrets. The 2nd one is an remote inventory station. It allows you to refill your ammo and grenades when you stand on it. However, it is very fragile. An enemy can destroy it in a couple of spinfusor shots or even snipe at it with a pistol. In my opinion it is too delicate for such a steep price. The 3rd one is similar to the tactical strike, except it costs more and covers a larger area.

Another welcome addition is regenerating health. It is especially good on defense. In the older games it felt like every time you were done with a fight you would have to go heal yourself to be ready for the next fight. With regenerating health you can spend less time running to the inventory station and more time combat ready. The delay time before regen starts is long enough so you don't have to worry about people healing while you chase them as long as you have good aim.

A staple of the Tribes series is the quick chat menu. Press "V" to open it. Then press the corresponding letter for each category. It is similar to the chat menus in Source games like TF2 or Counter Strike. Once you open the menu you sill see something like "G: Global." Then pressing "G" yields "T: Taunt" then "G: Greatest." So pressing V, G, T, G makes your player say "I am the greatest!" in global chat. Every chat is also accompanied by a voice, each voice unique to the class you are playing.

Since this is a Free to Play game of course there is some leveling to be done. Each class has it's own tech tree to unlock. Each class also has 2 perks to unlock that can be used for any class. You can use 2 perks at any time. The trees start of cheap but get more expensive the farther down you go. For example, many classes have extra ammo for the main or secondary weapons as 1 of the starting unlocks, which cost about 1,000 XP. Then you might choose something like faster weapon switch time which costs 2,000 XP. Then you can choose 30% faster reload which costs 4,000 XP. The big perks cost about 9,000-12,000 XP. On average I get about 1,000-3,000 XP per round depending on the length and how well I did. Each class has about 18 unlocks. So you have quite a lot of unlocking to do.

You also start the game with only a few classes. I think everyone gets the soldier and can choose 2 other classes. After each match you get XP and tokens which are used to unlock classes.

This game is really fun. If you are lucky and get in the beta for free then lucky you. I would suggest spending about $15 to get faster XP or extra gold to unlock more classes. If you don't get the beta then I still believe this game is worth $30. For $30 you will get the game, extra gold to unlock about 5 classes, and double XP for a month. You will also get beta keys that you can give to your friends. I started with 1 key, and when someone redeemed it I got 3 more, then 3 more, then 4 more. I'm still on the last set. 

1 comment:

DoceanMotion said...

Seems like an interesting game. I can see why they are trying to make the game more appealing to a broader audience. I have tried to get my friends into Tribes 2 but they just never were that interested. My friends have seen this game and they think it looks fun. I hope we can play it together and enjoy it.

That's weird that you don't pick packs/armour anymore and instead just pick preset classes. It'll probably help the newbies though.

I love skiiing. When I played the game Tiny Wings for the ipod/ iphone it instantly reminded me of skiiing in Tribes.