Tribes Ascend: New version of an old shooter

Tribes Ascend: New version of an old shooter

The oldest video game genre has added a new contender. Tribes Ascend is the latest FPS game (first-person shooter game) to enter this massive market of combat competition. The new projectile producing gameplay is free, only available on the PC, multiplayer and created for the 13-plus crowd.

I learned about the game from a 13-year-old boy who is always looking for a new PC game to explore. The developer, HI-Rez Studio, has had the game in beta mode for some time but launched it April 12. My gamer confidante was already proficient when the game launched, having paid to play the beta product. Although I could have played with him, I decided to download the game on my personal computer to investigate the ease of access and enjoyment of play.

From the Web site, www.tribesascend.com, I provided a username, password, e-mail and affirmed that I am at least 13. I then clicked the “download now” button to begin the 12.6 MB file download. Unbeknownst to me because it’s not explained, the initial file is a compressed file. The next step to “run” the game is a 2.15 GB install and a 30-minute process.

I left my computer because all operations were slowed to accommodate the mega download, not to mention major computer space utilization on my hard drive.

Returning 30 minutes later, I entered my username and password, hit enter and my screen went black …

Panic mode was about to set in after 20 seconds of black screen, when music began in the background and grew louder as my screen came to life. Before me — my new sci-fi world appeared with my transformer character in shiny red and silver armor and the tip: “Do a good turn daily,” which seemed odd advice before going to kill some people, but OK.

My options recommended training so I moused on over to the “training” option, only to discover my mouse was ultra sensitive. Just the slightest touch sent my mouse flying from one side of the screen to the other. I opted for the arrow keys and clicked down to “training,” which had me and my mammoth machine gun facing targets. Again, I struggled with my built-in mouse, trying to position over the targets and maneuver from side to side. Perhaps a standalone mouse works better to more accurately align targets and fight enemies; the built-in does not. (Settings in the game allow for mouse “smoothing.”) Aiming seemed impossible, but I did hit a few targets and then accidentally committed suicide. Fortunately, respawning and reloading is only a “K” away. By hitting “K,” my “recruit” was up and shooting again.

Although I’m new to Tribes Ascend, the game is one in a “Tribes” series originally launched in 1998. It’s beloved by fans for its combat adventure features that allow players to jump off a cliff utilizing a jetpack, throw explosives back at targets and land half way down a mountain skiing the rest of the way, all while shooting. Apparently, James Bond is under all that metal armor! (There are tutorials for skiing.)

There are one-on-one duels, as well and some strategy involved. Now that’s a different slant on a shooter game – thinking! Tribes Ascend players have varying options when it comes to hand-to-hand combat like pistols, grenades, spinfusor disc, etc. Or jetpack up to launch something down on an opponent; just be careful not to run out of jetpack juice and fall.

The sequel follows the previous versions offering amazing graphics, maps and modes, classes of soldiers from pathfinder to technician to sentinel to brute and lots of social interaction. Players develop their profiles and then play with a team, all online.

The final version is not yet rated but it’s recommended for those 13 and older or “Teen” due to violence. Although only available for digital download on the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation versions are currently being considered.

After the initial download, the game is easy to login to and play continuously as long as you don’t lose your Internet connection.

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