History and art
Note: HyperSnap wasn't getting along with this build of the game quite well, so you may see a missing HUD. That's not a bug in the game, it's a HyperSnap compatibility issue. Normally we'd take more screens to make up for it, but we're quite pressed on time and have already culled over 40 screens from the queue.
I'm a certified Tribes addict. In fact, one of the first articles I read on FiringSquad was CalBear and Thresh's Tribes review. I loved Tribes enough to love Tribes 2 at release, having a mistaken faith in Dynamix's ability to fix the bugs, and yet not regret my review at all. I was further hooked on the game when Rory pointed out Tribes 2 Classic.
The demise of Dynamix seemed like a death knell for the franchise, yet several people helped keep it alive and even resurrected it. I'd like to therefore take the time to thank and pay homage to brand manager Alex 'Marweas' Rodberg, who has since departed Sierra/Vivendi Universal Games, and Michael 'KineticPoet' Johnston, former member of the Imperial Elite Tribe, and current designer on Tribes: Vengeance, as well as z0dd and ZOD, developers of Base++, the competition mod for Tribes 2, as well as Tribes 2 Classic. Pardon me if I've left any other notables out, my memory isn't what it once was. Now, the success of Tribes 2 Classic and the continued existence of the oh-so-warm-fuzzy-and-friendly Tribes community at TribalWar, despite the neglect over the years, permitted the greenlighting of yet another Tribes project.
Tribes: Vengeance isn't a sequel but a prequel. How this is possible in a world almost completely devoid of a story is difficult to say, but it clearly does occur before the other two titles. Everything has a more primitive, industrial look. One quick glance at the fighter aircraft or the armor on the tribesmen shows what seem to be what someone from the early 20th century would image Tribes being as. The styling has traded a lot of the slickness from Tribes 2 for a touch of mechanical character.
Texturing and modeling are quite impressive, very much in line with the whole theme of the game. It's not super-realistic but more like that of very high quality animation. The game makes heavy use of bump mapping and other effects, so expect to need a beefy system to run it at full detail.
Another interesting change is the direction in which level design is going. While there is no lack of classic outdoor Tribes maps, it's the addition of interior ones that makes things different. Now I'm not talking about your typical Quake or Unreal Tournament level, rather, there is one map that's quite popular that is in a giant cavern.
What's so great about a cavern? Doesn't it reduce flying altitude and thus possibly skiing speed? You would be correct in that assumption, but it permits generous use of Tribes' newest toy, the grappler. This new item takes up one of the three weapon slots available to a class and permits Spider-Man like swinging from walls and ceilings. It takes quite a bit of practice to get decent with it, but the payoffs in energy savings on interior maps are totally worth it.