Tribes Aerial Assault

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Tribes: Aerial Assault

Developer(s) Inevitable Entertainment
Publisher(s) Sierra Entertainment
Platform(s) PlayStation 2
Release date(s) September 23, 2002
Genre(s) First-person shooter
Mode(s) multiplayer
Rating(s) ESRB: Teen (T)
ELSPA: 16+

Tribes Aerial Assault is an online first-person shooter computer game released for PlayStation 2 in 2002 by Sierra Entertainment. Tribes Aerial Assault is essentially a port of the popular PC title Tribes 2.

Because of TAA's strong community, the network coder of the game (Ricochet) at one time browsed a fan site and edited coding to help the community. Ricochet's biggest contribution to the community was the Aerial Assault Dedicated Server.


It is the year 3945 A.C. (five years after the events of Tribes 2). On the frontier "Wilderzone" of human space, hardy neo-barbarian tribes compete for possession of new worlds. Tribal warriors enter combat in powered armor, relying on skill and bravery to win glory.

BioDerm Hordes have started to invade tribal space. Though the tribes boast of being the finest warriors humanity has ever produced, they face a genetically modified race that has literally bred itself for battle. The stakes are epic, and the Wilderzone is aflame with a new kind of war.

The player controls J.Ransom, a recently-recruited newblood. After a training segment, the story follows J. Ransom through missions to fight off the BioDerm horde and keep control of tribal space.

Game Types and Gameplay

Tribes Aerial Assault is a first-person shooter game with an emphasis on mobility. While still employing the classic "kill the bad guys" routine, there are many game types in the single-player campaign and multi-player. These include capture the flag (CTF), capture and hold, hunter, team deathmatch, and deathmatch. Campaign usually consists of some mixture of these game types.

    • In all games but hunters and deathmatch, there are team and player points. Depending on the game style, team and player points can reflect two completely different things. Player points are usually earned through an individual player's accomplishments that help the team as a whole. Player points are earned by setting and deploying equipment, repairing friendly assets, destroying enemy assets, defending friendly assets, and completing objectives of the game.
  • Capture The Flag: Both teams have a flag, and the objective is to capture the other teams flag. The "runner" is unencumbered by the flag, that is; he/she can stil use weapons and grenades freely and without debilitation. After either team has captured the flag 8 times, or the time limit runs out, the game is over and the team with the most points wins.
    • In CTF, team points reflect how many times a team has captured, or attempted to capture the flag. Trying to capture the flag, but dying before reaching your base, gives your team one point. Successfully getting the enemy flag to your base gives your team a hundred points.
  • Capture and hold: This is an asset-guarding game. Usually there are four buildings or bases scattered over the whole map. Inside each of these is a switch. The objective is to touch the switch in any building and try to prevent the enemy team from doing the same for as long as possible. For every second that a base is held, that team gets one point. When the time runs out, the team with the most team points wins.
  • Hunter: A survival-based game. The objective is to kill as many people as possible and collect the flags that they drop, and then try to bring those flags back to a central "nexus" for points. There are no teams in Hunter, so everyone is an enemy. If someone drops more than five flags, everyone in the game is alerted as to who has the flags and who dropped them.
  • Team Deathmatch: Two teams duke it out until time runs out. 1 kill = 1 point. The team with the most points when time runs out wins.
  • Deathmatch: No teams, few rules, kill or be killed. The person with the most points at time-out wins.

Like most first-person shooters, TAA has a Heads Up Display (HUD). The HUD consists of a crosshair, health, energy reserve, grenades & grenade type, pack type, armor heat, lock-on detection, and vehicle condition. The HUD also has target identification, that is, a red arrow over the target is an enemy, a green arrow is a friend. Unfortunately, the target ident can be good or bad. Bad because it's difficult to be a sniper, because everyone can see the arrow over your player, but good because you can always see where everyone is.

A somewhat unique feature of TAA is the jetpack feature. The jetpack runs on armor energy and allows players to fly for short to medium distances. This is adds a whole new dimension to battles. Using the jetpack properly can give a player a significant advantage over other players. often, people will equipt an energy pack to increase flight distance.


In the game Tribes Aerial Assault (and all other Tribes games for that matter), the player can choose from three types of armors by stepping onto an inventory station. The available types are:

  • Light/Scout Armor: This is the fastest armor. Light armor is the favorite of flag runners, duelers, and people who prefer hit-and-run strikes on the enemy. It is also the most delicate armor, so the wearer must rely on his skill of maneuvering to stay alive in combat. The wearer of light armor can carry all weapons except the fusion mortar, and missile launcher. They cannot use inventory packs, turret packs, or base turret packs. This is the only armor allowed to use the laser (sniper) rifle, requiring the wearing of an energy pack. Players in light armor can pilot any vehicle, except when wearing an ammo pack.
  • Medium Armor: Medium armor is a balance between light and heavy. It is moderately fast and can sustain more damage than light. The wearer of the medium armor can wear any pack and carry any weapon except the laser rifle and the fusion mortar. Players in medium armor can pilot the Dingo, Transport, and the Bomber, unless equipped with an ammo pack or a remote inventory pack.
  • Heavy Armor: Heavy armor is usually the favorite of those who defend their own base against an enemy attack or attack the enemy base. Heavy can sustain the most damage of any of the 3 armors, but is also the slowest and hardest to maneuver. The wearer of heavy armor can use the devastating fusion mortar, which launches a huge exploding shell of green energy at its target, usually destroying it in one blast. The heavy armor can use all weapons except the laser rifle. Vehicles cannot be piloted by players wearing heavy armor.


  • Spinfusor: The most commonly used and versatile weapon in TAA. The Spinfusor shoots out a blue frisbee-like disk that causes moderate splash damage. Spinfusors can be carried by any armor.
  • Grenade Launcher: A weapon that shoots grenades and causes significant damage to its victim. The grenades arc over a distance, and can be used by any armor.
  • Chaingun: Chainguns have a greatly enhanced auto-aim function, and can easily wear down any armor, as well as a turret, inventory station, or generator. They can be carried by any armor.
  • Plasma Rifle: Slow moving projectile weapon that can be wielded by any armor.
  • Blaster: A laser rifle type weapon, although not as powerful. The blaster's red energy beam will bounce off walls and the ground at short to medium range. The blaster's beam also has the ability to penetrate some shields.
  • Laser Rifle: Tribes Aerial Assault's only sniper rifle. It can only be used by people in light armor. The ammo of the laser rifle is unlimited because it draws energy directly from the armor's energy supply. The beam's destructiveness is proportional to the level of the shooter's power reserves (Small amount of energy = Small amount of damage), but it takes up all of the user's energy reserves.
  • Fusion Mortar: This weapon can only be used by those wearing heavy armor. It shoots a devastating green mortar that will kill any nearby light-armored players in one blast and cause heavy damage to any equipment within range. Fusion mortars arc over time, and cannot be used well over distance.
  • Missile Launcher: The missile launcher is used by medium and heavy armors. To use the missile launcher, the player must "lock onto" the target for at least a half second (a missile can only be launched at a target that has a heat signature, such as a player using a jetpack or a vehicle). Furthermore, if the target throws a flare, the missile will disregard the target to lock onto the flare. Missile Launchers cause a large amount of damage to the target, destroying any light-armored victim, nearly destroying a medium-armor, and taking roughly half of a heavy-armored user's health off.

Secondary / Throwable Weapons

  • Basic Grenade: A timed explosive charge that does a large amount of damage to its enemy and nearby objects. When it explodes, a brown, dust-like cloud rises, with shrapnel flying in all directions.
  • Concussion Grenade: When this grenade is thrown, players caught within the blast radius drop any flag, weapon, or pack they are carrying. Causes little damage. When it explodes, a large, purple cloud appears, with a telltale "screaming" sound.
  • Flare Grenade: As opposed to the grenades named above, which "detonate" instantaneously, the flare grenade creates an intense heat profile for several seconds. This is useful for diverting missiles from flying players or vehicles.
  • Mine Grenade: When deployed, the mine burrows into the ground and arms itself in a matter of seconds. Unlike mines in real life, the mine grenade is completely visible to players.

Armor Packs

In TAA, players can optionally equip a pack along with their armor. Packs can increase a player's energy, ammo, shields and much more. The packs are:

  • Ammunition Pack: The ammo pack increases the maximum number of rounds (and grenades) that a player can carry for each weapon.
  • Energy Pack: The energy pack substantially increases the rate at which a player's energy recharges itself. This allows a player to fly higher, faster, and more efficiently with the jetpack. It also enables the laser rifle to be fired more quickly.
  • Repair Pack: The repair pack equips the bearer with a special "gun" which emits a beam of red energy that repairs any destroyed or damaged equipment. The repair pack allows the bearer to "repair" himself or herself or fellow players.
  • Shield Pack: When enabled, the shield pack emits a shield that draws from the energy supply of the wearer's armor. The Blaster can penetrate a shield.

Deployable Packs

  • Base Turret Barrels: A base's turrets can have their barrels replaced by these packs. The different turret barrels are listed below.
  • Remote Inventory Station: Once deployed, these stations allow players to recharge their ammo, replenish their health, and acquire new weapons, packs and other items. The only differences, from a functional point of view, between remote inventory stations and "regular" inventory stations are that players can not change their armor or buy additional remote inventory stations at deployed remote stations.
  • Remote Turrets: Players in medium or heavy armor can deploy these on nearly any surface. Once activated, they will automatically fire on enemy players within range.
  • Remote Sensors: The official use of the remote sensor is to extend the range of a remote turret's firing range.
  • Remote Detonation Satchel Charge: When this pack is deployed, the player drops it. When the deploying player triggers the satchel charge, it causes a large, powerful explosion that can kill players and destroy equipment. Once deployed, they can be destroyed harmlessly before detonation.

Base Turret Barrels

These are attached to stationary base turrets.

  • Anti-Aircraft Barrel: These shoot in rapid succession white energy beams that are extremely deadly against vehicles and extremely annoying against players.
  • Mortar Barrel: A larger and more powerful version of the player weapon.
  • Missile Barrel: Locks onto targets with heat signatures much like the player-wielded weapon.
  • Plasma Barrel: Spits out bluish white semi-rapid plasma that causes significant damage to players.

Non-Deployable Barrels

  • ELF Turret: This barrel is found on only one map: Quagmire. It spits out a beam of blue energy which quickly drains a player's energy and then proceeds to reduce their health.
  • Sentry Turret: Although these cannot be deployed, they are often found inside bases guarding equipment and entrances.

Base Assets

  • Generators: In some maps, there are two sets of generators. One powers the force field around the team's flag, and one powers the base's equipment. When a generator is destroyed, all non-remote base equipment loses power.
  • Inventory Stations: These are more powerful version of the deployable station. These allow players to select armor, packs, weapons, and grenades.
  • Vehicle Stations: Only found on some levels, and commonly known as the "V-Pad." These allow the player to generate one of the vehicles listed below.


  • Mongoose Grav Cycle: On level ground these will beat any other vehicle in speed. However, AADS servers do not allow players to ride Mongoose cycles while holding the enemy flag. Only light armor can pilot the Grav Cycle.
  • Dingo Fighter: A fast flying vehicle with two mounted lasers.
  • Hammer Bomber: TAA's only bomber. The Hammer does not have any turrets or energy cannons. Its only weapons are the bombs it drops. Unlike in past Tribes games, this bomber is a one-person vehicle, so the pilot must do both the piloting and the bombing.
  • Piltdown Transport: These can transport up to four players in any armor across the battlefield. The pilot, however, must be in either light or medium armor. The Piltdown comes equipped with an automatic anti-aircraft cannon.

List of campaign missions

  • Training 1
  • Training 2
  • Training 3
  • Training 4
  • Training 5
  • Cap Time
  • Shades of Death
  • To Have and to Hold
  • Full Fledged
  • Onslaught
  • Dystopia
  • Scorched Earth
  • Death From Above
  • Gen Defender
  • Bastion

Online Levels

Below are levels that can be played while playing Online or Offline.

CTF Maps

  • Avalon
  • Beggar's Run
  • Damnation
  • Death Birds Fly
  • Desiccator
  • Firestorm
  • Katabatic
  • Paranoia
  • Quagmire
  • Recalescence
  • Reversion
  • Sanctuary
  • Slapdash
  • Thin Ice
  • Tombstone

CNH Maps

  • Abominable
  • Equinox
  • Firestorm
  • Flashpoint
  • Insalubria
  • Jacob's Ladder
  • Overreach
  • Sirocco

TDM Maps

  • Equinox
  • Escalade
  • Invictus
  • Myrkwood
  • Oasis
  • Paranoia
  • Rasp
  • Rimehold
  • Sun Dried
  • Underhill
  • Whiteout


Review scores
Publication Score
GameSpot 7.2 out of 10[1]
Games Domain 3.5 out of 5[2]
GameSpy 80 out of 100[3]


External links