Thursday, March 22, 2012

Ski Game With Rocket Launchers - Tribes: Ascend Review

   Tribes: Ascend is a fast-paced first-person shooter created and hosted by Hi-Rez Studios. The game has three modes (Team Deathmatch, CTF, and Arena). The object of the game's main mode, Capture the Flag, is to... capture the flag, by any means necessary. This includes vehicles, rocket launchers, shotguns, more rocket launchers, grenade launchers, assault rifles, and a bunch more variations on rocket launchers.

   The game is very explosion heavy, and with a hate for hitscan weapons combined with a love of high speed, the game can be brutal on newer players. Aiming can be difficult, more so when all projectiles have to travel slowly to their destination. Nevertheless, actually getting a kill during these conditions can give you a great sense of accomplishment.

   Now for the right and wrong of the game, besides what was stated in the above paragraph. Tribes is a pretty old series, and I would imagine has many fans. Regardless, this game has problems. First...

  This game has a lot going for it. The skiing mechanic feels great and, combined with jetpacks, makes movement feel very fluid and free. You can easily have a lot of fun with this game doing nothing but skiing around and going fast, and the game comes with a section in the Training menu that let's you free roam around maps. A good way to take the edge off.

It may be hard to tell from the screenshot, but I'm flying pretty high here.
   The graphics are also amazing, and are able to accommodate a wide range of computers. I find this particularly amazing since the maps are so dang huge. Everything works correctly and, despite it being in beta, I have not encountered a single bug. The matches are also hacker-free and managed on good servers with matchmaking, so as long as you select the correct region the game is almost lag-less.

   Another thing is a the class variation. There are three different weight classes with three classes each: Light, Medium, and Heavy. The light classes are stealthier and faster while providing nice damage, the medium classes are the most evenly balanced, and the heavy classes are high health and high damage, but slow. Every class has their role on the field and their own unique weapons and set-ups. The classes are also balanced with each other, and you won't find a useless class. Some classes are better at killing than other classes, but not every class is based around killing other players.

   The game also just makes you feel good. Since the game requires so much skill to play, you have a general understanding that if someone killed you, it was because they were good at the game, and not because they got lucky/lagged/etc. Plus, you're rewarded with medals and accolades depending on how you performed, and are greeted by your many accomplishments after the match ends along with your reward.

No idea what any of this means, but I must be awesome for earning them!
   To top it all off, the tutorial of the game explains what you need to get started and comes with a cool ski course to test your efficiency, and a target practice map to get a feel for the game as a whole before you play it. Just looking at all this, this game is perfect. Too bad I'm not. Let's check what's...

   First off, there's what you will notice as soon as you start the game. There are nine classes...but only three of them are available. You must unlock almost everything on this game using the in-game currency (EXP) or cash.

Just three more classes to go...wait, "% Complete"...? Ah, crap...
   This includes not just classes, but perks and alternate weapons. Upgrades can only be bought with EXP, which is refreshing, and they have the cheapest prices in the game. While it's cool that you can eventually get everything with enough time and effort, the prices for some things caught me off guard. The average is about 500 EXP per match (I'm not very good), not counting special achievements or the first-win-of-the-day bonus. Upgrade prices range from about 1,000 to about 5,000, class prices range from about 7,000 to about 18,000 to unlock. Alternate weapons range from about 40,000 to 100,000 to unlock. You can purchase a boost to increase EXP gain and, even with that, progression can be very slow.

   Something I noticed with Blacklight that this game shares is the lack of a map or radar. This seems like basic information to me, and having to navigate entirely by waypoints until I memorize the map layout is a bit of a hassle. I'm not entirely sure why games like this have started cutting out maps. Maybe they wanted to decrease the size of the HUD, or make the experience more immersive. I'm not sure. I didn't mind this kind of thing with Team Fortress 2 because the maps on that game were very simple and straight-forward. Tribes maps are a bit more complicated, and some levels even have secret side passages into the team bases.

   One last thing, which may be something only I care about (along with the map thing), is that the maps seem to revolve around the ski mechanic. Most of the maps are made almost entirely out of mountains and hills, and the ridiculously huge size of the maps is there only to accommodate the ski speed. Meaning that even though are you are travelling much faster than in other games, you still reach your objective in the same amount of time, with just as much action on the way (usually none). The maps are extremely large even for the mass team sizes, and make the game feel less like a rocket launcher jetpack game with skiing, and more like a ski game with rocket launchers and jetpacks. Hopefully you know what I mean.

   Despite this, the game is solid and in terms of gameplay, it would be hard to get a better deal, especially for free. If you can handle the speed, and your computer can handle the graphics, you should definitely download it.

   4.5 out of 5

   Reviewing too much awesome lately. Gonna have to find some crap to rant about eventually.

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