Summary: Rory continues his look at the changes Tribes 2 went through, switching focus for a while to the swanky new Team Rabbit 2 game mode and then summing up his thoughts in a re-review of T2 as it stands now. Funk soul brother, check it out now!
Codality, a mod team whose members were drawn from two competitive tribes, was contracted by Sierra to craft Team Rabbit 2. The goal of Team Rabbit 2 is to create a graceful and more concise game than CTF. An entirely different gametype and mod, Team Rabbit 2 features different physics and though the weapons and other factors are similar, their blast radii, speed and damages are tweaked to benefit the game.
The premise of Team Rabbit 2 is two teams vie for a single flag, this flag can only be carried for 15 seconds by a player before they begin taking damage. To prevent said damage you need to mix it up and pass it to a teammate. Passes, depending on their height, hang time, positions of passer/receiver and many other factors are then worth assigned a certain amount of points. A grab on the ground going slowly will yield 1 point, a pass that hangs in the air for 20 seconds, travels 700 meters, and is thrown by a passer traveling at full speed and caught by a receiver backwards can yield up to 72 points. Sounds complex, but it doesnít end there. These points are not awarded to the team, but instead, go into a jackpot which reaches up to 250 points. Players can cash in the jackpot by driving it to an enemyís goal stand and shooting it in.
Team Rabbit 2 in many ways plays like an aerial version of hockey, with style being rewarded over brutality [Rory must be thinking of that sissy Russian hockey, not good, hard-nosed Canadian stuff. Ėed.]. Aside from the scoring aspect of TR2, there are also other means to accumulate points for your team. Possession time of the flag for example, will give a minimal amount of points to a team every second, not enough to win a game, but enough to put you a few points above another if its close. Teams repeatedly passing the flag back and forth, while keeping possession and doing different passes can also gain creativity bonuses which are direct bonuses to a teamís score. The final method of accumulating points is the one-timer. A variation on the solo goal, a one timer consists of passing to a team-mate who holding his throw button will then perform a slapshot into the goal. The one-timer is then worth an extra 50 points on top of what the jackpot is cashed in for.
SIDEBAR: Seriously guys, Iím not kidding. Rory has a real fetish for big pages. I donít know whatís up with that kidÖ ask him.
If youíve played Bombing Run for UT2k3 youíll know roughly what Team Rabbit 2 plays like. Just toss in a jetpack, the ability to roar across the landscape and the rewards for style and you have a downright amazing game. Many a constraint has been placed on Team Rabbit 2 to keep the game fast paced and small. The out of bounds grid for example, nothing foreign to T2, has now been changed to act as an accelerator of sorts, where players can do grid bounces to bring themselves back into the field of play. There are also a few other objects tossed in to act as accelerators, such as jump-pads and cannons which you can use to shoot yourself across the air like a circus freak. Some other variables have been tweaked as well, water for example is an entirely different entity than as it appears in Classic or traditional Tribes 2. Water acts as an accelerator due to its buoyancy, and players will actually gain quite a bit of speed traveling through water.
Roles and numbas
With all the various mechanisms in mind, the game fits perfectly with a small number of people, in fact three on three is not just playable, but incredible. The max set by the mod is 6vs6, but a server can allow for spectators who can wait in line to join and watch the action as it goes on from the flagís perspective, which is a nice touch. Admins can also toss more players in but its rarely necessary, 6vs6 is an absolutely perfect number, individual players truly shine, and youíll rapidly be picking up on the right team-mates to pass to and the ones to pass over.
Maps maps maps
TR2 enjoys a number of custom maps, the original seven in the patch with a few more available by independent authors. These maps are decent, half of them are quite fun, the other half are either too large or too hostile to the player-base to be enjoyed by most pub players. Visibility on all these maps is through the roof, offering somewhere around 700 or more meters of long distance range.
Codality experimented with a number of different gameplay variables to get the physics model they wanted for Team Rabbit 2. In fact, the size of models was doubled, and all landscape was thereby doubled, in order to get a more appropriate physics model.
This detail has partially fractured the player base of T2. There are so many mods, with so many followings all playing a comparable game, it seems any coder with a knowledge of derivative C languages has tried his hand at making a balanced mod for Tribes 2, and all itís really done is reduce the overall competition on most servers.
Team Rabbit 2 for example enjoys a good 200 people playing it at one time at most, usually this number is far lower. Far too many people are not interested in learning yet another physics model to get into it. The same is true of most of these mods, with a good several hundred players all latching onto their Tribes tweak of choice.
This serves to not only make the games less competitive but it will also limit your server choices to one or two North American/Australian/European servers with people on it. Fortunately Team Rabbit 2 is entirely playable with only a few people per team, as we mentioned earlier, but it still lacks server choices if you wish to play another map or donít like your team.
Unlike Classic, where a single player can do quite a bit of damage on his own, Team Rabbit 2 is entirely team-based. If you are lightyears above your pubbing teammates, youíre going to feel it. Without at least a slightly skilled partner, even the most amazing player will either find it impossible or very difficult to shine. The reliance on passing, and teammates who can get themselves in the air to catch passes will limit even the finest player and his passing/receiving game.
Graphics. Though very little has changed about the T2 graphical engine besides improved framerate, the game is still easily one of the most impressive engines handling outdoor terrain. The only engine which can come close is Battlefield 1942.
Balance. Classic has returned quite a bit of balance in offense and defense, the game has simply become lightyears more fun as a result, with the entirety of the game being played as it was meant to be.
Level design. There are literally dozens of great maps. Old T1 players will see some of their classic Tribes 1 maps returned to the game, as well as dozens of other new engaging and original maps. This is a refreshing change to some of the abominations of level design that the first incarnation of T2 shipped with.
Netcode. Despite a different, and somewhat quirky netcode, Tribes 2 still maintains the finest netcode to be found in any of the current generation online shooters. Even the newer netcodes of BF1942 and UT2K3 feel primitive in comparison.
Uniqueness. The Tribes franchise is still to this day one of the most unique of the first person shooters, nothing really comes close, even 4+ years after the first gameís release.
Price. If you can find T2 odds are its gonna be 5-10 dollars. Weíd probably pay 5-10 dollars for a 90 meg expansion alone, but its absolutely free, and provides hours of content.
Customizability. Tribes has enjoyed quite a bit of user-related content over the years. From the several different gameplay mods giving you your taste of what Tribes should play like, to countless scripts, skins and more.
Not your fatherís Tribes. Despite the best efforts of the various mod and coding teams to return towards Tribes 1 while preserving T2 gameplay, this is still not your fatherís Tribes. Some of the best elements of the first Tribes have been brought back, but those select hardcore players insisting on Tribes 1 with T2 graphics wonít find it here.
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