View Full Version : The Tribes Series

04-09-2009, 02:16 PM

Anyone remember Tribes?

I...I remember Tribes.

Tribes was a game released way back in the dim times (1990s) and it was a massive breath of fresh air and an unexpected continuation of the now completely forgotten Earthsiege series, which started with the rather...understandably named Earthsiege, then went on to Earthsiege 2 and then Starsiege.

It is a real shame that everyone has forgotten this series. For one thing, it had HERCULEAS: Humaniform-Emulation Roboticized Combat Unit with Leg-Articulated Navigation

HERC for short.

The HERC is, dare I say, slightly more realistic than the Gundams and the Battlemechs that dot the market. For one thing, they're a weapon that is designed to be used WITH supporting forces, rather than to the exclusion of all other forces.

That is my biggest complaint with Battletech and Gundam (other universes with giant walking robots). The Mechs and the Gundams completely devastate everything else in their path and leave no room for anything save air support.

Unrealistic. Even more unrealistic when people keep on building and training tanks and infantry even after the local Gundam or Mech blew their shit up last time!

But in Earthseige, HERCs actually have a semi-reasonable place in their respective militarizes. Airplanes, Tanks, and infantry still have points as support roles.

Anywho, Earthseige takes place some time around the 23rd century, where some incredibly bright man said, "Hey, lets use A.I to fight our wars for us!"

And everyone who's seen 2001, Terminator, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, or ANY short story written in the 1960s knows: That's a bad idea, foo.

So, the Cybrids (as these A.Is were called) turned on their creators and we barely managed to beat them. Then they came back. Then we almost beat them again!

Then they came back.

Then, we beat them and this time we ACTUALLY beat them.

Till they came back.

But then we really *did* beat them, made "Tho shall not make a machine in the likeness of a man" our first commandment, and went off to establish a vaguely feudal Imperium that...


I just realized what always struck me as familiar about Tribes...

In all seriousness, the similarities between Tribes and Dune are few beyond the whole "A.I wars followed by Imperium".

So, cut forward a thousand years and mankind is firmly split between the decadent and soft Empire (of course) and the fierce warrior Tribes.

And then the plot loses a lot of its coherency cause we've entered the Tribes stage of the game.

Tribes was a massive shift from the prior games cause, well, the war has shifted from giant robots to dudes in armor shooting at each other.

I don't quite understand what happened, but I think the Tribes constantly fight against one another, and they do so by jumping around in power armor, blasting at each other with awesome guns that fire razor sharp disks that explode.

But the thing that made Tribe's stick out was it was a team based multiplayer FPS that was fast, fun, and had some rather neat areal combat. You could modify your suit by choosing your armor type, your weapons, and your special tools.

Then came Tribes 2. Tribes 2 added a new faction (the Bioswarm, a bunch of space orkish things that are evil and I forget where they came from), new vehicles that kicked ass, more guns, more armor, bigger maps...

And now, we come to the REAL meat of the review.

This is what's going to get me flack.

I never liked Tribes.


Okay, see, its like this. I'm NOT a multiplayer person. Other people, unless I know them personally, tend to be jerks. Or significantly better than me, so much so that I can't have any fun.

I love playing multiplayer WITH my friends, rather than with some random folks on the internet.

So, I didn't much care for Tribes. I liked the ideas. I liked the maps. I *loved* the vehicles. And the gun that shoots exploding disks.

Then came...Tribes: Vengeance.

Tribes: Vengeance, was the second of all Tribe's games to have a focus on singleplayer (and no, no, I won't talk about...ugh...Aerial Assault...bletch) and it actually started off AMAZINGLY well.

It starts off about 100 years before Tribes, and sets the stage by talking about how the Empire is being all mean to the Tribes, who are the noble savages of this universe apparently. Now, here is where things get fun and cool, and to explain WHY its fun and cool, I'll have to digress slightly and talk about characterization in video games.

Characterization, unfortunately, is a bit odd in video games. Some games have really good, well done characters. Other games have...not...so well done characters. And a lot of games just reuse the same molds over and over again and one of these molds is the Heroic Female Character.

We all know this one: She is tough, hardassed, never ever has, ya know...emotions or feelings. Cause feelings are weak and if a girl EVER flits, she's a SLUT. And she has massive boobs, a big ass, and wears way too little clothes.

Okay? We clear?


Tribes: Vengeance kicks off with you controlling the Princess Victoria and the game instantly made me fall madly madly in love with her...because she's a spoiled whiny bint who is more worried about chipping her nails than shooting a gun. Oh, also, she's got a body that is hot and yet also not completely unfeesable for someone who's going to be doing action heroine stuff!

That might sound like a really unlikable character, but they managed to play her RIGHT. She was spoiled, and yet you still liked her, and she was not stupid, she was just sheltered and ignorant. She is clever enough to pick up quick, and yet she retains her charming naiveness for quite a while. Also, the voice actor manages to convincingly portray a spoiled princess who's world has been flipped right upside down.

It was such a refreshing and new angle on the female heroine that I started wondering why everyone else had bashed the game so much.

So, I enjoyed the starting level, where Victoria is captured by the Tribes in an attempt to force a peace, and I *loved* the Tutorial level, where it turns out that their plan had backfired and now the Princess was useless to them.

Fortunately (for Victoria...kinda), one of the Tribals takes pity on her and basically says, "If you can prove you are worthy of joining us, we'll let you tag along."

And then the game made me fall absolutely in love with it by having the combat be fun, the controls good, the graphics nice, and did I mention that Victoria and Daniel (The Tribal who takes pity on her) start a budding romance.

And I LOVE well done romantic subplots! We have faaaaaar too little of them in video games.



Cause after these two levels, Vengeance takes the plot and royally butt...er...sodomizes it.

See, we have a nice start here. Spoiled girl, in a dangerous situation, forced to grow up, realize that her royal family is being a bunch of royal jokes, fall in love with the very likable Daniel...all good!


The game CUTS FORWARD TWENTY YEARS to, guess what!


The time skip is jarring, the new characters are incredibly unlikable, and the game play went from fun to dull.

And whats interesting is that...the dullness was not brought about by any changes in the game play. No, it was cause I didn't have a character I cared about and all the problems I had ignored in the first levels were glaring in bright bright red.

So I stopped, uninstalled the game, and never played it again.

And lo, that is how the Tribe's series died. It is a tragic one, for it was SO close to being a really amazing and memorable single player experience.

As it is, Vengeance is remembered as being the game that hammered the last nail into the Tribe's coffin.

But if you are hungering for a forgotten gem of FPS multiplayer action, find Tribes or Tribes 2 and give them a try.

And I'll get back to writing my Tribes: Vengeance fan-fiction.

I'll show you how to do plot arcs, you stupid...grumble...grumble...