What you may not know about me is that I was a big Tribes 2 fan back in the day. It is the one first-person shooter (FPS) game that held my interest for any length of time and the only one where I actually enjoyed playing against other human players. I was even a member of a ranked team on the Tribes 2 ladder at the time. What made Tribes different from all the other FPS games out there? I’m glad you asked …
The vast majority of FPS games, then and now, have no strategy to them. Each person playing the game is just an interchangeable and disposable cog with nothing to differentiate them, nothing to encourage or support alternate play styles other than “run up to the other guy and shoot them in the face until they fall down”. It’s kind of like the philosophy of sword fighting explained in The Mask of Zorro: “The pointy end goes into the other man.”
On the other hand, Tribes 2 (and noted exception to the above Team Fortress) highlighted only one game mode, Capture the Flag. There were others, but the real way to play Tribes 2 was to play Capture the Flag. This introduced some strategy, yes … but where it really shined was the fact that the maps you played on featured bases with defenses, sensors and generators to power it all. So you could actually build up your base’s defenses to make it harder for the other team to get to your flag. Or they could sneak in and take out your generator to make all your automated defenses come down. So you had players that became good at different roles, like generator defense, defense setup and maintenance, flag defense, flag capture or flag runner. (Yes, capturing and running were generally two different roles, at least in my clan.) I actually was very good at defense setup and generator defense. I studied the maps for the best places to plant my turrets, my mines and then stand in heavy armor to wait for the inevitable sneaker to try to get through.
All Tribes did was give the player some choices and a game with a captivating amount of depth was created. One could play offense, defense or “transportation” (some of the maps in Tribes 2 were so huge that you needed vehicles to cross them with anything that would be described as rapidity). One could wear light but fast armor, heavy but slow armor or split the difference with the medium armor. One never even needed to take a shot at another player, going only for the support route by running around the base and repairing things that the other team broke. (I particularly liked this role … it was my own, personal type of griefing.)
I haven’t gotten deep enough into Tribes: Ascend in order to determine if it will hold up to my memories of Tribes gone by … but I’ll be posting my thoughts here!