Tribes Aerial Assault

Review

posted 12/11/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
Perhaps one of the least overlooked titles of our time was a PC game called Starsiege Tribes. Created by the brilliant minds at the now defunct Dynamix Studios, it turned out to be one of the most addicting games that I had ever come in contact with. It was truly a trailblazer at the time, emphasizing team play as opposed to the uni-centric gameplay of Quake, the game managed to find quite a large core following that remained heavily devoted to the game. Now it heads to the console realm in the form of Tribes Aerial Assault and while the game has since lost some luster, it’s still a highly addictive title that just barely misses the mark.

What makes this game so unique (other than the team play) is the inclusion of a back-mounted rocket pack. When used correctly, it’s the difference maker in the heat of a battle. It’ll help you jump further, strafe quicker, and launch better assaults. When paired with the disc launcher (the game’s signature weapon) it can form one deadly combination. Just ask Sierra’s Alex Rodberg (aka Marweas), this guy is wicked deadly with the spinfusor, or so he tells me.

This is an addicting game, trust me on this one. When I started to review it I thought I would just put the game through its paces, or so to speak, but I ended up playing the game for the entire night. There I was, reliving my Tribes experience all over again, becoming addicted just like the first time I picked it up, except this time, I was playing with a Dual Shock 2 and not the mouse and keyboard. While some may see this as a negative, the game has aids to help compensate for the inaccuracies. There’s an auto-targeting mode (for those who are less than manly of course) to help you get a bead on your opponent and the game’s hit detection seems to be a bit more forgiving than its PC brethren. In a nice touch, server operators can turn these features off because really, who wants to play in a server where you can nail a flying opponent with the spinfusor?

Weapon variety is excellent, featuring a nice assortment of chainguns, laser rifles (sniper rifle), grenade launchers and gauss rifles. Each of them are useful in a practical manner and they manage to avoid a common FPS pitfall in that they are totally unique from one another. They don’t fall into that trap of being too similar because trust me, the spinfusor and the chaingun don’t have too much in common, except for that whole killing your opponent thing.

As stated, the game heavily placed the emphasis squarely on teamwork and while there are deathmatch-like modes included, they’re not really all that entertaining. The meat of the game lies in the capture the flag mode where you (duh) have to capture (duh) their flag (duh) and return it to (you guessed it) your flag. This would be a commonality if it were in any other game but the flags are concealed within huge bases with defenses. If that weren’t enough, teams can set up their own defenses and deploy objects such as turrets and cameras. Oh and that whole rocket pack thing really makes this game more dynamic too. Have you ever tried to snipe someone as they were flying through the sky in an unpredictable arc? I didn’t think so.
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