GameSpot is fortunate enough to be part of the Tribes 2 external beta test. We'll be keeping you informed about our impressions of the game throughout the beta test period, and while we can't take any screenshots, we will be posting our thoughts on the different game types, weapons, and new vehicles. Keep in mind that the game is in beta and being patched often, so things may change.
The game starts out with a functional menu, where the player can read community news and forums. There's a button in the bottom left corner that functions like the start menu in Windows - it brings up some options that allow the player to change settings or jump into a game. The single-player missions are not complete yet, but they really aren't necessary for an experienced Tribes player.
All the weapons look similar to the original Tribes weapons, but both the sound and graphic effects are more impressive. The disk launcher has a deeper launching sound, and the disks have a unique whiz when they pass over or near you. A hissing sound can be heard from the high explosives when a player is too close to them. Explosions are stunning too, with large cloud shapes and concussion rings. The concussion rings don't affect the player, but they're still a nice touch. Grenade launchers have a black smoke trail, and fragments leave trails in the explosions. Mortar explosions are also more impressive in Tribes 2, and they give a visual indication of just how fearsome the weapon can be.
Some of the new weapons introduced in Tribes 2 include the rocket launcher and two types of grenades. The rocket launcher can be used to fire a straight projectile at an object, but it's most useful to lock onto "hot" targets. The rocket launcher will lock onto any vehicle or player using jets for more than two seconds. When fired, the rocket will arc in the air and seek out the target. However, the new flare grenade can be used to disrupt the lock. The other new grenade is a concussion grenade that will knock players back and cause them to drop the weapon that was in their hands.
Every day of the Tribes 2 beta test period features a different game type. One of the first modes played during the beta test was deathmatch, which doesn't quite fit Tribes 2's team-oriented gameplay. Because of the game's large maps, the pace of deathmatches in Tribes 2 is slow when compared to the likes of Quake III. However, deathmatch is a great way to practice fighting skills, since the player doesn't have to travel all the way to the enemy base in order to fight.
Hunters is similar to deathmatch, but it's much more fun. Players who die automatically drop a flag that can be picked up by anyone and returned to the nexus for one point. Players can carry many flags and return them for more points than a single flag would yield. For example, two flags returned at once will give the player three points. So returning 20 flags will yield an enormous amount of points. When a player with a substantial amount of flags dies, an announcement says "yard sale," and the location of the dropped flags becomes a waypoint. This style of play can lead to sneaky behavior, as a third person can sit back and wait for a flag to drop then rush in and grab it. It also discourages long-range weapons like the sniper rifle and rockets. Campers can wait at a nexus to steal flags, though, so players must be wary. There is a team hunters mode that has not been played yet, and this will undoubtedly be very interesting to see.
We'll be bringing you more information about the game in the future. Until then, take a look at our extensive collection of Tribes 2 previews, movies, and screenshots.