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Review by: Josh Horowitz
Published: October 5, 2001
I continue to be amazed with how far multiplayer game technology has gone in such a relatively short period of time. Almost twenty years ago, the big multiplayer innovation was a four-player, paddle-controlled Pong variant called Video Olympics on the Atari 2600. The interactivity was crude at the time, but the fun was undeniable. Now in this day and age of fast college-dorm T3 and cable-modem Internet connections, players need a greater fix than a square pixel bouncing between four video athletes. After online multiplayer card and board games began to lose their novelty in the early pre-Internet days, the deathmatch arena in Doom became popular, later evolving into a timeless contest known as “Capture the Flag.” This simple team-based competition, once played on the green fields of summer camps and on cracked asphalt playgrounds, was brought to new pinnacles in the digital realm by Sierra and Dynamix through a program called Starsiege: Tribes, causing an epiphany in online gaming circles. After countless frags, flag-captures, and clan matches, many players drooled with news of a Tribes sequel that could improve upon what some already considered a team-based masterpiece.
Dynamix seems to have abandoned much of the Starsiege backstory for Tribes 2, but the manual explains the conflict as follows: In the 40th century, a series of neo-barbarian tribes contend for territory across countless worlds. These tribes consist of mighty armored warriors in four factions: Blood Eagle, Diamond Sword, Harbingers of Phoenix, and Starwolf. In addition, a new genetically-modified race known as the BioDerm Hordes arrives to challenge the factions for supremacy. These forces continually square off in unending, massive combat, and that’s pretty much all you need to know. Like Quake, the storyline takes a backseat to the action.
Tribes 2 is a massive action and strategy game that takes the concept of multiplayer team-based competition and attempts to present its every facet in a fun, user-friendly environment. The look and feel is not much different than Starsiege: Tribes, but the designers have tweaked several of the original elements to today’s standards, adding weapons, improving resolution and frame rates, and streamlining the whole interface. There are resources for training, offline, and online play, as well as an extensive conduit for the Tribes 2 community. The title supports over 64 simultaneous participants while allowing for numerous modifications and custom skins. There are several deathmatch variants included, but team-based CTF is the program’s meat and potatoes. Taking place in large outdoor battlefields and close-quartered bases, players can fulfill numerous roles during CTF matches, including assault and defense, sniping, repairing, piloting vehicles, reconnaissance, and many others.
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