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Tribes: Ascend review

Our Rating :

Tribes deserved a fantastic sequel, and Ascend delivers. It’s simply superb

Ah, Tribes. Just saying the name aloud brings back memories of sitting in front of a bulky CRT monitor in 2001, skiing across massive open wastelands with the enemy flag in hand, dodging spinfusor blasts and jetpack-propelled attackers. It was one of the first multiplayer games to squeeze over 100 people into a server at once, which made for some frantic and adrenalin-fuelled gameplay, although it’s starting to show its age now.

If you like the idea of futuristic multiplayer battles, but want to give your graphics card a workout at the same time, Tribes Ascend could be just what you’re looking for. It brings the series bang up to date, with gorgeous high-definition graphics and a new free-to-play retail strategy. Now in the hands of developer Hi-Rez Studios, Ascend takes everything we loved about the previous games and transports it to the latest version of the Unreal engine.

Tribes Ascend 2

For the uninitiated, part of what makes Tribes so unique is the skiing mechanic. Holding down the spacebar will make you frictionless, letting you slide down slopes and hills to pick up speed. Used in combination with a jetpack, you can cross huge maps incredibly quickly. Unlike other shooters, combat is as vertical as it is horizontal, so expect to see your enemies flying towards you at breakneck speed. You’ll need to master these skills to stand a chance online.

More thought is required to effectively use your weapons, as almost all need to factor in distance and speed before you fire. Most guns shoot energy pulses that take time to arrive at a target, meaning you need to aim at where your opponent will be in a second’s time, not where they are when you pull the trigger.

Tribes Ascend 1

Your starting arsenal depends on your choice of character before a match begins. Ascend introduces nine character classes, designed specifically to complement the Capture the Flag game type. Although there are other game modes, it’s here that Tribes really shines. Teams that work together have heavy Juggernauts laying down suppressive fire, Soldiers holding the front line and Pathfinders racing to grab the enemy flag.

Tribes has always been a predominantly multiplayer experience, so it should come as no surprise that Ascend’s best moments can be found online. If you’re new to the series there are several tutorial modes, as well as offline maps populated with computer-controlled bots, but the real fun comes once you start playing on servers filled with human enemies.

Because it’s free to download and play, there are naturally plenty of opportunities to open your wallet if you want to unlock content early. Each class has different weapons, accessories, armour and equipment that can be unlocked with either XP (earned from online matches) or gold (purchased with real money), but thankfully there didn’t seem to be any balance issues. The freemium components don’t distract from the game as a whole either, as everything can eventually be unlocked without paying a penny – as long as you put the hours in.

Tribes Ascend is unashamedly old school – you can’t just pick it up and expect to top the scoreboards if you don’t use all of its movement and gameplay mechanics. Series veterans will love the frantic action, but even if you’re new to the Tribes universe, you should still give it a try. Much more complex than Call of Duty, it’s essentially a cross between a first person shooter and a maths lesson. Just believe us when we say that equals a whole lot of fun.



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