Review by: Matthew Dujnic
Published: October 31, 2002
Well known for its massive team competitions and sprawling levels, the first-
person universe of Tribes has been adapted for PS2. Sierra and
Inevitable Games have delivered Tribes: Aerial Assault – an adaptation
rather than a straight translation of the popular series. Everything about the
title was custom-made to feel comfortable on a console – and its heart and soul
are anchored online. If Sony’s SOCOM:
US Navy Seals was too serious a shooter to suit your tastes, maybe the
arcade action of Tribes will suit you better.
While pared down from its PC ancestry to support only 16 simultaneous players,
Tribes is still a surprisingly complex team-based shoot-em-up. In
contrast to the realistic action of SOCOM, it’s wild and fast. However,
it isn’t an easy Quake-
style shooter. Like SOCOM, team tactics are necessary and the strategy
runs deep. In fact, the only simple thing about this game could be its story.
You’re a warrior, a NewBlood, outfitted in armor and hankering for some violent
sport. You fight for the glory of the tribe. That’s it. Go to it.
Like many of my console brethren, I’m new to Tribes. It took me a good
hour of frustrated gaming to realize I wasn’t playing right. If you hop in and
start blasting away, you’ll get decimated. On the surface, Tribes looks
just like any other 3D shooter, albeit with enormous maps: The core control
setup is the standard dual analog scheme from all console first-person
shooters, and your weapon hand protrudes in familiar fashion from the bottom
corner of the screen. There’s even some liberal auto-aiming going on. So what
was I missing? Everything.
First of all, Tribes forces you to play in teams. This takes time to
adjust to because it’s incumbent upon you to carve out a role for yourself on
the squad. Will you stick to light armor and do some high-flying flag
stealing, or switch to medium or heavy armor and patrol the base? The choice
is yours, and while three armor types doesn’t sound like much, it’s actually
just the tip of the iceberg. What’s more, you can change your plans at any
time during a match. As Capture the Flag games can go on for about 20 minutes,
you’ll have plenty of time to try different tactics against the other team,
switching armor and weapons as you go.