E3 2001 Hands-onRubu Tribe

Interplay's innovative adventure game for the PlayStation 2 is playable at E3. Check out our hands-on impressions of the game.

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Rubu Tribe for the PlayStation 2 was announced shortly before E3, and Interplay already has a playable version of the game at its private booth on the show floor. In Rubu Tribe, you play as a tribe leader who must manage dozens of tribe members to ensure that they are both happy and productive. The entire tribe lives in a large hut built on the back of a mammoth animal called an Uut. The Uut moves slowly, and it's your job to make sure that its path is cleared so that you may continue your migration to another land and avoid extinction of your tribe.

Part real-time strategy game, part Zelda, Rubu Tribe plays from a third-person perspective and features a wide variety of gameplay modes. The game employs an intelligent control configuration that relies heavily upon one context-sensitive button. The program knows what must be done with each object in the game, and getting near each interactive object will automatically trigger the context-sensitive commands. The Uut must be cared for, which entails defending it from enemies and clearing the path for its lumbering steps. Puzzles are built entirely around the concept of protecting the tribe's house on legs, and the tribe leader can gain abilities as he collects power-ups, like a set of wings that will allow him to glide. Tribe members may be instructed to carry out several tasks, and managing each tribe member's workload is the key to keeping the group happy. Not only will you have to deal with external issues, but problems within the tribe also pop up from time to time, and they must be handled diplomatically. How you manage your tribe members is the key to completing the migration and surviving, and orders are given via a unique musical command system that was difficult to use within the noisy confines of E3. Rubu Tribe will also include streaming speech for every character in the game.

Rubu Tribe didn't sport the most amazing graphics at the show, but it looks good nonetheless. The tribe leader has a variety of smooth animations, and the levels are built with a healthy number of polygons. The Uut is enormous and includes a structure on its back that is several stories high. The tribe is protected from attack while inside the structure, but in order to get on the Uut's back, you must use a green tongue-like catapult that drops down and slings you up to the top. There are frequently more than a dozen tribe members onscreen at once, but Rubu Tribe's game engine keeps up with the action without any problems. The game has several distinct ecosystems and food chains that require specific actions from the tribe members in order to manage.

Rubu Tribe is an interesting game that blends several genres into one cohesive experience. Fans of real-time strategy games will enjoy the micromanagement of the tribe members, adventure game fans will enjoy the exploration involved in the game, and fans of Tamagotchi will appreciate the nurturing involved in taking care of the Uut. Rubu Tribe is currently scheduled for release at the end of the year, so there is plenty of time for some polish to be applied to this already-promising premise. We'll have more on Rubu Tribe when Interplay sends us a playable burn.

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