A hollow re-creation of a classic

User Rating: 6 | Tribes: Ascend PC

I don't understand why developers think that the 1998 classic, Starseige:Tribes, was too hard to play. The common consensus in the game industry is that new players were overwhelmed, easily killed, and turned off by the many complexities of Starseige:Tribes. But if that's the case, I challenge any of them to find someone that tried Starseige:Tribes and quit because it was too hard.

I have personal experience in introducing new gamers to Starseige:Tribes. My observations were that new players “were” overwhelmed and “were” easily killed, but “were never” turned off by the experience. The original Tribes was a game that you could suck at and still have fun. For as complex as the game was, it was never tedious.

The newest version of the Tribes series, Tribes:Ascend, is a different story. You no longer have to visit an inventory station to equip weapons and armor. You no longer have to constantly jump to maintain momentum. You no longer have to enact repairs to get health back. The result is that it is not as bad to die, it's not as bad to lose health, and having your base generators attacked has little bearing on how effective you are.

In short, most of the gameplay enhancements in Tribes:Ascend are defensive in nature. It's harder to do damage to the other players, but I'm not so sure that defensive enhancements make the game more approachable for new gamers. At least a new player had a chance to do significant damage to the enemy in the original Tribes. Good luck now. It's harder to kill other players, and once you do, they are back instantly with a fresh load-out of weapons.

Weapons and turrets have been toned down to the point that it usually takes more than just 1 or 2 lucky shots to kill someone. And because health slowly replenishes (as is the case in almost every FPS since Halo), you have to finish the kill quickly. The chance of a new player pulling that off is pretty small.

The elimination of inventory stations and automatic health replenishment has also had the effect of de-emphasizing team bases in Tribes. Many players never go to their team base. Try attacking a generator, and most of the time, the other team doesn't respond or care.

Without base emphasis, the gameplay feels a little hollow. What most people remember about Tribes is jump-jetting duels across open terrain. Tribes:Ascend has that in spades. What most people forget is that those duels were rarely mutually agreed upon battles. Like WWII aircraft battles, one player was usually on his way to do something while the other player intercepted him. There was a hunter-prey aspect to combat that is gone now in Tribes:Ascend. The developers took what people remember and like most about the original and streamlined the rest to make it more accessible to the average gamer. In doing so, they lost a lot of what made Tribes engaging and successful.