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Review by: Jim Richmond
Published: Oct. 27, 2004
When developer Dynamix gasped its last breath, there was speculation that the venerable Tribes series had been buried with its creator. Fortunately, it’s hard to keep a good license down. Developer Irrational Games (the folks behind System Shock 2) was able to pick up where Dynamix left off and has recently delivered Tribes: Vengeance to a store near you. Let’s see if this new offering can fill the ski boots of the revered original.
As games pass from one development house to the next, they inevitably undergo some changes. One component that has been added to the bubbling cauldron of Tribes: Vengeance is a full fledged single-player campaign. The single-player story follows a trio of the battling tribes: the Imperials, the Phoenix, and the Blood Eagles. Over the course of the campaign, you view the story from the point of view of two Phoenix leaders, an Imperial mother and daughter, and an enigmatic assassin as you unwind the plot to discover the secret reasons behind the ongoing tribal wars. The single-player campaign also serves as a type of extended tutorial that allows Tribes die-hards to hone their skills and the uninitiated to come up to speed before hopping into online scrapes.
New additions to the arsenal also set Tribes: Vengeance apart from its progenitors. A sort of deadly boomerang called the Buckler is a portable shield that can also be hurled at enemies and will return to you on command, the Burner launches large balls of fire that will fry any sap that gets in the way, and a grappling hook that lets you swing around like a heavily armed Spiderman, shooting with another equipped weapon while you dangle on the end of the line. Familiar guns like the explosive Spinfusor and mighty mortar return for this curtain call, but other weapons like the Electron Flux Projector have already taken their final bow. Additionally, the missile launcher has undergone a change, morphing into a rocket launcher that dispatches six simultaneous projectiles that can be guided to a limited extent by the person firing them.
Weapon load outs and ammunition replenishment are still done at kiosks, but the organization of load outs is new in Tribes: Vengeance. There are default equipment sets you can choose, tailored by the developers for specific jobs, but there are also configurable load out tabs that can be assigned your own personal weapon cocktails for easy recall after a respawn. There are also some weightier choices to be made when loading out because each suit comes with a maximum of three weapon slots, so you have to be judicious about what you want to take.
Along with firepower, supplemental enhancement packs can be added to your private arsenal, giving you an extra advantage on the battlefield. Each enhancement pack has a passive and active mode that work independently. The Energy Pack improves energy recharge rate for energy weapons and your jetpack, and when activated it gives a speed boost. The Shield Pack passively reduces all damage received and actively reduces injury by a significant margin. The Speed Pack natively increases running speed and when the switch is flipped, it makes you fire faster. The Repair pack slowly restores lost health, but when activated, it repairs you at a faster rate as well as repairing all friendly vehicles and troops around you.
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