IF THEY HAVE first-person shooters in martial arts Valhalla, we’re pretty sure Tribes: Ascend is the one Bruce Lee plays. First and foremost, it’s a game about movement. In a split second, you have to judge where your jetpack-propelled, lightning-quick opponent is, where they’re going to be, and what you should do about it. You have to instinctively go with the flow, all the while never missing a beat. You must, well, be as water. Water with a jetpack. As a result, Tribes simply feels wonderful—not to mention unlike anything else on the market. Sure, it’s basically a shinier Tribes 2, but you won’t hear any dismayed cries of “Shazbot” coming from us.
What worked in previous Tribes games is in top form here. Footing it from place to place is—as you’d expect in a game subtitled “Ascend”—suicidal, so forward motion is all about deftly mixing aerial acrobatics and inertia-based “skiing.” In short, your jetpack can only play little-engine-that-could-defy-physics for a few seconds, at which point gravity rudely yanks you into free fall. Combined with Tribes’ trademark hilly terrain, however, that velocity can be transformed into your best friend instead of transforming you into paste. Simply hold the space bar to ski—typically at speeds in excess of 100 mph—in whatever direction you were headed. Shouting “wheeeeee” while going down ultra-steep inclines is optional, but encouraged.
These days, it’s rare for a game to drop out of nowhere and turn us into sweaty, drooling masses capable only of slobbering out the words “Woah,” “Dude,” and “[Speechless],” but to say Firefall pulled it off would be a serious understatement. See, the game heralds from Red 5 Studios, a startup founded by World of Warcraft’s former team lead and Tribes’ lead designer, and it basically woah, dude, woah, [speechless], woah, dude. Sorry about that. See what we mean, though?
The game’s described as a "a team-based action shooter that thrusts hundreds of players together into a lush, dynamic open world combining intense competitive multiplayer and large-scale cooperative gameplay," but that really doesn’t do it justice. The first in-game trailer – which you can see on Firefall’s official site – makes up for that in spades, however, and we highly, highly recommend you take a break from our halfway-incoherent ramblings to give it a look-see.
However, for those unable to view the trailer for whatever incredibly unfortunate reason, here’s the gist: it’s like they’ve taken the best bits of WoW, Tribes, and Borderlands, baked them all into a casserole, and then served them up on a tray garnished with all our hopes and dreams. In other words: Jetpacks! Loot! Bug monsters! Jetpacks again!
If you hadn’t guessed already, this is one to watch. It’s currently slated to launch at the end of next year, but you can sign up for the beta test right now. So go! Make haste! If it helps, take this paddle and canoe down our giant river of drool! You (probably) won’t be sorry!