Tribes: Vengeance Updated Impressions

Irrational and VU drop some details regarding the single-player campaign, community support, and the first, big Tribes: Vengeance mod.

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Producer Chris Mahnken discusses the final stages of development for Tribes: Vengeance. Double-click the video window for a full-screen view.

With Tribes: Vengeance due in a few months, developer Irrational Games and publisher Vivendi Universal Games are eager to show off the third game in the popular Tribes franchise. In Tribes: Vengeance, you'll once again don the futuristic armor/jetpack combination that lets you to zip around gigantic levels so that you can blast your opponents with an array of powerful weapons. At a recent press event, we learned of further details regarding the game's single-player campaign.

As we've known for quite awhile, the campaign will be split between a number of main characters, and you'll watch the story unravel through their eyes. One of these characters is Julia, a young warrior and an imperial princess. We've learned that in addition to being able to play Julia as an adult, you'll also get to play her as a five-year-old child in a flashback about the day her family was overthrown from power. Unarmed and frightened, you have to navigate through the royal palace while evading capture in a harrowing sequence. As you wander through the palace, pockets of remaining royal guardsmen will attempt to protect you against overwhelming odds.

In another mission, you play as Daniel. He is the leader of the Phoenix tribe, whose members have an almost beelike appearance thanks to their yellow, rounded armor. Daniel and two of his tribesmen have been thrown into one of the empire's arenas, where they must battle for their lives against waves of insectlike creatures and human opponents. You can command your tribesmen to man weapons turrets, and part of your job--when you're not battling desperately--will be to retrieve the repair pack to keep the turrets operational. At one point, the imperials will call in air power to take you out, and if you can shoot a pilot without hitting his craft, you can separate him from his ride. You can then commandeer his fighter and use it to even the odds.

One favorite tactic is to wreak havoc inside an enemy's base.
One favorite tactic is to wreak havoc inside an enemy's base.

We also learned that Tribes: Vengeance will have a considerable amount of community features thanks to the programming hooks that are in the game. These hooks will allow TribalWar, the officially sanctioned, volunteer-organized community site for Tribes, to extract all sorts of statistical data from multiplayer matches. The community will be able to keep track of the number of kills you have, and it will be able to break down those kills by the type of weapon used, and much, much more. And the community will also host tournaments, maintain ladder rankings, and even offer live video coverage of Tribes events.

Finally, even though Tribes: Vengeance is still in development, there's a major mod effort under way. You may recall that the first Tribes was called Starsiege Tribes due to the fact that it was a spin-off of sorts. Starsiege Tribes was closely tied to Starsiege, which was a mech combat game not unlike MechWarrior. Unfortunately, while Starsiege Tribes took off, Starsiege struggled commercially and ended up being the last game of the Earthsiege/Starsiege series. However, Starsiege made a deep impact with a number of fans, some of whom are now working on an officially sanctioned total conversion mod for Tribes: Vengeance called Starsiege 2845. In essence, Starsiege 2845 is the sequel to Starsiege. Set 14 years after the events of that game, Starsiege 2845 will pick up with humanity in pursuit of the hated Cybrids, the artificially intelligent machine race that attempted to wipe out humanity during the course of the Earthsiege and Starsiege games. To ensure continuity with the established universe, the mod has been written by Blake Hutchins, the original author of Starsiege and Tribes 1 and 2.

Starsiege 2845 has a feature list that approaches that of a full-fledged game. There will be a single-player campaign with more than 20 missions, as well as a multiplayer mode that supports 32 players on maps as large as 100 square kilometers in size. You'll have three main characters--in addition to four distinctly different factions--that you can play, and there are multiple endings that can be experienced depending on how you progress through the campaign. Starsiege 2845 will allow you to either pilot a Herc--the giant mechs in the game--or you can run around the world as an infantryman. This should create some terrifying moments when you see a 50-foot Herc lumbering toward you. You'll need to create a combined-arms force of hercs and infantry, because certain levels will require infantry to storm into a building while hercs secure the perimeter outside.

Getting a kill in the air is hard but rewarding.
Getting a kill in the air is hard but rewarding.

In addition to Hercs, you'll also have a wide variety of other weapons and equipment at your disposal, including tanks, fliers, SCARABS (heavy-power-armor units that represent a precursor to the Tribes power armor), and other vehicles. The development team also promises more than 80 different weapons and 90 different components. Furthermore, you can customize your Herc from the type of armor that it carries to its sensor system, engine, reactor, shields, and onboard computers. The development team, staffed by volunteers from around the world, promises a lot, but it appears that everything is on track. The plan is to deliver the mod to Vivendi sometime early next year.

Tribes: Vengeance is also shaping up quite well. Irrational and Vivendi showed the game to fans at last weekend's Tribal Wars LAN event in Los Angeles and allowed them to actually try out the beta version of the game as well. If all goes according to plan, Tribes: Vengeance should ship sometime this fall.

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