Starsiege: Tribes is an extremely ambitious game. It's one of the first games ever to be commercially released as a completely on-line game with no single player aspect whatsoever. And it is good. Really, really good.
When you start up Tribes and set up your player identity, you are taken to the server screen. There are literally hundreds of servers with new ones going up every minute. After it pings the server list, you will notice that each server has different characteristics and games that are running. Servers are judged by ping circles of green, yellow and red (green being the best) so naturally you want to pick one that pings well to you. And because this is an on-line game, the developers did the best they could in making the interface very easy to use. My only gripe is that there is no find a player feature out of the box.
Each server is running a different game. You can play in classic Capture the Flag games where the objective is to retrieve the enemy flag while at the same time having your team protect your own flag. Defend and Destroy maps tell you what your objective is and it is up to you to either defend or destroy it. You can have your team go destroy the other team's generator while you defend the things that you need to defend. Find and Retrieve missions have you going out and looking for specific items that you must take back to your base. Of course, there are pure Deathmatch games in which its every man for him self. But perhaps the best, at least most chaotic game, is Capture and Hold. In this game, it is up to you and your team to control all the different towers and command centers located on the map. Unfortunately, the enemy team is trying to do the same thing! Each one of these games is very fun and challenging in their own way.
While you're playing, you have lots of things to keep in mind. You can choose from three different armor classes in order to use certain items. The heavier you are, the slower you move but the more powerful and important you become. When you're in light armor, you can use only the basic weapons (like the blaster and disk launcher) but you can jetpack farther and run faster. The heavier armor classes are able to lay down turrets to protect the base and deploy beacons. They can also use the heavy mortar weapon, which is very powerful. Beacons are essentially weapon and item stations where you can buy certain things like weapons and order up vehicles. You can also command your troops from the commander's view and send them to waypoints.
Starsiege: Tribes does have a few minor problems (which are addressed underneath this review). But it's strengths far surpass it's weaknesses and is a down right immersive and extraordinary game that any online gamer should not be without.
Graphics: The visuals in Tribes are very impressive. Almost all of the ground textures are absolutely gorgeous and the animation is crisp and clean (granted there is no lag). Instead of being cooped up in militant looking bases, you are thrown into vast and beautiful deserts, snowy and rocky mountains and all sorts of valleys. The graphics engine allows for some spectacular hills and mountain ridges that make you feel like you're really in the world. Though it could have used a few more player models, the different armor classes make characters look different and are highly detailed. Some of the base textures that were used are a bit questionable, but as a whole, the game looks fantastic.
Sound: Well, the music is okay, but you need the CD to hear it. Most people will want to play without music to avoid any lag or slow down problems. The in-game sounds are nicely done. There's a whole slew of voice commands you can give your teammates that tell them what to do, or where you are or what needs to be done. There are even a few insults thrown in for extra measure. You can also choose from different female and male voices depending on which one you prefer. The weapon effects are very believable and fit weapons they are assigned to.
Enjoyment: Because the individual games were nicely thought out and the level design is quite inspired, Starsiege: Tribes is an extremely enjoyable game. The strategic elements, like commanding, reaching waypoints, destroying your enemies' turrets and generators, picking armor classes and weapons, setting turrets and driving transport vehicles never gets old. You also get to fly over the vast terrain using a nifty little jet pack that runs off of energy (which will run out and send you plummeting to earth if you're not careful). The only thing that brings the game down at times is certain lag issues. When a server gets overly populated, it lags like there's no tomorrow. Animations go way down and at times it will be generally unplayable and frustrating. And though it will lag at times, it's for the most part playable (as long as the server has under 20 people and allows a fair amount of bandwidth for each player). Also, the weapon selection, while decent, seems oddly shallow. There's no real balance or diversity in the weapons, but this is okay since this game isn't really meant to be a "frag-fest".
Replay Value: Regardless of whatever lag problems the game may have, you will return back to the world of Tribes a lot. Because all of the games are decent in their own ways, the gameplay never really gets old and there's just so much to do. And because the game is such a blast to play, you'll immerse yourself for hours at a time.
People who downloaded Starsiege: Tribes have also downloaded:
Tribes 2, Tribes: Vengeance, Starsiege, Star Wars: Republic Commando, Quake 2, Star Wars: Battlefront, Star Wars: Battlefront II, Soldier of Fortune
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