August 4, 2013
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Perhaps it bears testament to how far computer games have come since their humbler days as console cabinets, when we consider that Tribes: Ascend could not even be reasonably run on my old Dell XPS 420 (requiring 4 GB of RAM), despite being a free-to-play online multiplayer first person shooter. A part of the Tribes franchise, Tribes: Ascend was developed by Hi-Rez Studios and is currently available as a download for Microsoft Windows. Aspects from previous Tribes games such as jetpacks and skiing are featured in the game. I’ve only put in around seven hours at the time of writing, but I’ve found the game to be a brilliant shooter for allowing players to challenge one another in a science-fiction environment. As a free-to-play game, money can be used to immediately unlock things, but other than that, players with a bit of persistence can and will probably unlock everything over time.
- In my first few hours of playing, I went with the soldier. Despite the stock assault rifle being quite weak, its rate of fire allows for weakened opponents to be rapidly take down. The graphics in Tribes: Ascend are very pleasing, and I have on a few occasions, set up a training map for the purpose of watching warships fly through the sky,
- The game was built around jet-packs and skiing. I’ve maxed out my starting weapons for the soldier and unlocked the Sentinel class so I could snipe. The mechanics in Tribes: Ascend mean that engaging other opponents at long ranges are impractical (i.e. the rounds won’t reach them), encouraging chaotic close quarters battles. The sniper rifles do change that somewhat, but they have limited zoom and make take a few good hits to down an enemy.
- While I occasionally go out of my way to get flag captures, my preferred role is to engage those who target my team’s generator, repair damaged generators for my team and destroy generators for the enemy team. This one instance, I recall an individual accusing me of hacking because I was able to continuously hold him off, long enough to keep our team’s generator safe and prevent their players from reaching our base.
- The juggernaut class possesses heavy weapons, making them ideal for defensive roles. The plasma mortar and heavy spinfusor confer massive firepower that can take down a light or medium class in a few shots.
- I’ve had a great deal of fun using the spinfusors, and will probably unlock those as weapons for my soldier next time I get around to playing. Soldiers are equipped with an assault rifle as their primary weapon and the Thumper D (grenade launcher) as a secondary weapon. The assault rifle is weak but excellent against aerial targets, while the Thumper D is solid against ground targets. The other unlockable weapons have unique perks and caveats, making the default loadout the most balanced all-around.
Tribes: Ascend is often compared to Planetside 2: the latter is praised for its incredible scale and diverse gameplay options, as well as customisations, but numerous discussions have also noted that Planetside 2 is best enjoyed in group battles with either clans or friends. Conversely, Tribes: Ascend seems more suited for lone-wolf players, such as myself. Bringing to the table all the aspects I love about shooters, Tribes: Ascend implements its skiing and jetpack mechanisms very well, providing an additional dimension to the gameplay. Use of the spinfusor weapons while skiing allow players to propel themselves to new heights, while the emphasis on projectile weapons means that players must quickly assess their shots before firing to ensure a hit. The diverse gameplay allows players to dedicate themselves to capturing objectives, cutting down their enemy’s generators (required for perks near their team’s base) or even ski around and the map and serve as a high speed distraction to all. One thing’s for sure: Tribes: Ascend will probably fulfill the role of “space shooter” should I ever desire a break from fighting dragons and diving into the mystery behind a small town and a writer’s novel.