Review by Bespin
This is a good game. Yes, I am well aware that this is a brutal if not premature conclusion to a review that has yet to evolve beyond two lines. Its almost like the pizza delivery man arriving with your order before you have even studied the menu. It is with deepest regret that I have punctured the balloons of those idealistic readers who wanted to be built up, saliva positively boiling with anticipation before the final and satisfying verdict is delivered. I stand by my conclusion however and will now proceed to tell people exactly why it is a good game - after all, that is why your reading this article isn't it? If not, read the first five words again and leave it at that.
The game places you in control of Victoria, an Imperial princess betrothed to a military general with a 5000 year old attitude. Your Imperial flagship is over-run by rather hostile (surprise surprise) insurgents and you are essentially left to battle your way to safety. I will not tell you what happens next because if nothing else, that would just spoil the story for you! Nonetheless, the game progresses into a varying number of interesting levels and surroundings. The game also tries very hard to vary its levels as far as possible. So, whilst your first mission is on a ship, you later progress to outside worlds and there is even a flavour of a team tournament game pitting you and several other Imperial soldiers against another tribes soldiers in an arena. This made a very refreshing change to the usual fps single player levels usually encompassing the destruction of a few baddies and a lot of wandering around until you find the end of the level. There is a storyline and a plot and whilst its not awe inspiring, does give you the feel that you are playing a game with at least some purpose.
Fans of the varying unreal engines will find something familiar in this game as that's exactly what its based on. On first playing the game, I couldn't help but get a feeling of what Unreal Tournament 2003 Vs Mech Warrior would look like. The game is essentially a more or less typical FPS with a few added extras, though its those little extras that make it. For those who haven't played any of the tribes games before, one of the most differentiating characteristics of Tribes is the jet pack feature. Your character can be propelled into the air for short bursts which makes combat all the more interesting, not to mention difficult. I was also particularly impressed with the AI. On the harder settings, some of the enemies can be quite a challenge.
I'm going to be bold and say that Tribes Vengeance, in addition to being a good game in its own right, has improved vastly on its previous versions in several ways. First of all, it just looks happier, and after Doom 3, we like happy things. The colours are more vibrant and not quite so bitty and depressing as its predecessors. There's colour everywhere, in the scenery, characters, movie scenes - did I mention everywhere? A useful array of weapons is available and you can also control a variety of vehicles both land and air. The sound is also quite impressive. The music, like the graphics, is quite vibrant and changes depending on where you are and what your doing. I.e. it will speed up if your in combat and when not in combat it can be quite atmospheric. Some of the sound effects are quite interesting as well - there's a definite slug when you shoot someone for instance
The game was tested on a system using an Athlon XP 2800+ CPU, 1024Mb Ram, and a 256Mb GeForce FX 5700 and still had the odd jerk and jolt when run on maximum detail. So, if your one of those people (you know who you are!) who have a system fit to take over the world and are still waiting for a game that will put it through its paces then Tribes will certainly give you a run for your money!
A very large feature of this game is the multiplayer option which looks pretty much the same as the first person game in so far as the layout and does everything you would expect and hope for in multiplayer. This is where the game really comes to life and I anticipate there will be many interesting and exciting mods for Tribes Vengeance.
If I am going to say anything at all critical about this game it is that there is nothing revolutionary to be found here. This game will not change your life and you will probably not find yourself rushing home from work (or school if your still young enough!) to play through the next levels. Then again, this game has no pretence about being revolutionary so there's no disappointment there. However, people who are used to playing FPS's will not find anything new or ground breaking in Tribes Vengeance. By now most of you will have formed the conclusion that there cant be that much wrong with it, and most of you would be right. One very able gaming colleague of mine however simply couldn't hand the jet pack feature and quickly lost patience branding the game less than average. I'm assuming the rest of you are gifted with greater levels of skill...
In conclusion, this is a refreshing approach to the FPS genre which should certainly entertain anyone interested in vibrant fast moving action. Whilst it doesn't push the envelope in terms of ground breaking innovation, I'm sure you'll like it.