|Release date(s)||NA: March 28, 2001 |
EU: April 13, 2001
|Rating(s)||ESRB: Teen (T) |
Tribes 2 (commonly abbreviated to T2) is a sci-fi first-person shooter (FPS) computer game based in the fictional Earthsiege universe. As the name indicates it is the second game in the Tribes franchise, following Starsiege: Tribes. It was developed by Dynamix and published by the company then known as Sierra Entertainment in March 2001. On November 2, 2008 Vu Games removed the authentication servers required for online play. However, in early 2009 a community solution restored the functionality of the servers.
Set in the year 3941, Tribes 2 allows the user to play as a soldier in one of several factions (referred to in the game as tribes), such as the Children of the Phoenix, the Blood Eagle, the Diamond Sword, and the Starwolf. Players can also choose to play a rebelling human-created soldier/worker race called the BioDerms. None of the factions differ from each other in strengths or weaknesses, but each has a distinctive look and background story.
The maps where the battles take place are set on the planets of the 40th century frontier, or "Wilderzone" as the game series calls it. All of the planets are far from Earth, which is currently being contested by the Bioderm uprising against the Great Human Empire. The battles themselves are mostly from the Bioderm offensive into the Wilderzone in order gain vantage over the Great Human Empire. Normally, however, the events near earth generally do not reach the Wilderzone, making star systems and their planets available to the Tribes of Man.
Tribes 2 is a multiplayer online game, designed for Internet or LAN play with up to 64 players (32 vs 32) or bots per match, although a small single-player tutorial mode is included. The game may be played from both first- and third-person perspectives. Each match takes place on an Earthsiege-themed map. The Tribes 2 engine, an early version of the Torque Game Engine, is capable of both indoor and outdoor maps, with expansive play areas. Player movement about the map may be on foot, using a jet pack, or in various ground and airborne vehicles as pilot, co-pilot, or passenger. Each match is played according to one of a number of possible game modes, which dictate the rules of the match. These modes include capture the flag, deathmatch, rabbit-chase, and others. Players are free to choose their own role, and may deploy various items of weaponry, vehicles, and emplacements. Many of these items can be left unattended to operate automatically, or control may be assumed by players. Each player may also choose from three armor types (which trade off various abilities, e.g. weak but fast, or strong but slow), and a weapon and equipment loadout, which may be reconfigured at any time during a match. The large variety of equipment and deployable items results in many opportunities for creative play and tactics, from pure combat to stealth. Tribes 2 gameplay makes extensive use of jet pack-powered flight, which adds a notable vertical element to combat. As such, playing style varies dramatically from player to player, and from moment to moment, but Tribes 2 gameplay may be generalized as being fast-paced three-dimensional combat over a wide playing area. Player vs player combat is a central element of Tribes 2 gameplay, even in team-based modes.
Both Tribes and Tribes 2 were designed to be highly modifiable by players. A powerful scripting language built into the game engine, the Torque Game Engine, has allowed prospective "modders]]" to alter many aspects of gameplay; since the textures and 3D models can also be replaced, games that bear little resemblance to the Tribes titles can be created. The "modding" community surrounding these games have created a large number of custom levels, vehicles, weapons, skins, voice file sets, and mission types.
Mod support maintained most of the key features present in Tribes, particularly "server-side" (no required client download) mod support, but also contained a number of new features. Tribes 2 could create "compiled" (partially encrypted) versions of the individual mod files, still interpretable by the game, which could then be optionally compiled into one .vl2 package for distribution. This allowed mods to be distributed freely in a format that did not give server operators access to the source code, one of the main difficulties faced by Tribes modders. Many of the other shortcomings faced by Tribes modders were rectified by Tribes 2, such as the inaccuracy of the GetMuzzleTransform function or the inability to specify different damage types for laser-type projectiles. The scripting language also contained numerous functional improvements, comparable to the additions to C++ from its predecessor, C. Tribes 2 scripting supported newer features such as classes and object-oriented programming, and related properties like inheritance. These new features allowed not only for easier creation of mod elements but also for the addition of significantly more complex elements to a given mod.
However, despite the positive elements of Tribes 2's mod support there were a number of lingering issues which made mod creation in Tribes 2 difficult at times. The scripting support allowed for certain object types (static shapes) to be scaled in any combination of their X, Y and Z dimensions, but coverage calculations would still be performed based on their unmodified dimensions. The new Zone object types—encompassing elements like water, lava, and force fields—had numerous frustrating properties, including unit lengths which differed from game units depending on the rotational position of the Zone, as well as a complete lack of "interaction" functions ("onCollision", "EnterZone", "LeaveZone", etc.) that could be modified or overloaded through scripting. Many prospective modders were disappointed with the lack of extra shape files, as Tribes had included a number of unused shapes which were widely used in modding efforts. Tribes 2's Inventory system also complicated matters, as there was no included GUI to allow players to purchase single items not part of their current favorites. This meant that if a player wanted to buy an item added by a mod they would either have to include it in one of their 20 favorites or bind a separate key to a special "update buylist" function for that specific item, the latter of which could not be done without significant effort or a client-side download. The Tribes 2 favorites system also proved problematic, as it would not automatically use a different set of favorites depending on the mod, unlike Tribes. In practice this forced players to limit themselves to one mod type, preventing any casual exploration of other mods.
In addition to the server-side modifications, Tribes 2 also had extensive support for client-side modifications. These modifications could range from simple aesthetic or informational changes to the HUD to allowing completely new functionality. The scripting language behind these mods made it difficult to cheat (and indeed, most mods were considered "harmless"), but some questionable behaviors and functionalities were still possible. For example, one of the more controversial client-side mods released for Tribes 2 was Qing's qFireMissions. This mod allowed the user to set up a conveniently selectable system of waypoints for the purpose of long-range bombardment of enemy facilities. Once set up, the player needs only to load the appropriate "FireMission" and a series of waypoints will appear on the user's HUD, including the position the player needs stand on for the system to work. Using this mod, it was possible to set up nigh-impossible trick shots, launching Mortar shells from half the map away or more to fall through small holes in the enemy base, destroying equipment inside that was normally inaccessible without a more direct and time-consuming assault. Of the servers still active, many will ban players if they are suspected of using this mod. Some servers have also added a small degree of randomness to the mortar's starting vector to prevent trick shots like the one above while still allowing relatively accurate long-range bombardment. Other questionable client-side mods changed the skins of mines to make them more visible, or increased the volume of sounds that an active cloak-pack made to make it easier to know when a cloaked enemy is nearby.
Yet, more additions to the mod family are Construction Modifications (Construction Mod). These modifications allow players to use various packs and chat commands to build just about anything that comes to their mind. Buildings can range from a simple box, to a space ship, or even a complex calculator. The building community is very small in comparison to those who play Tribes 2 for the large-scale battle games, but construction mods have become (and are still becoming) more advanced with new packs and mods in development.
It was rumored that the developer's parent Sierra, which had been acquired by Vivendi Universal, insisted on a scheduled release date for the title in order to support the sagging fortunes of the troubled media empire (whereas legendary independent developers like id Software and Valve Corporation are famous for saying that their latest in-development game will be released "when it's done"). When released Tribes 2 was prone to crash with the famous "Unhandled Exception" (UE) error and many would argue required more gameplay tweaks before launch. These caused a high number of customer returns and complaints, which, it is believed, contributed to Sierra's decision to cancel the planned Tribes 2 expansion pack and close the Dynamix studio.
On November 20, 2002, Sierra released an update for Tribes 2. This update contained two new game types, new maps and updates to address several issues, including those that had originally turned off many Starsiege: Tribes players. This was the last update they would do for Tribes 2.
Although the Tribes Universe is now considered "elderly" (the original Tribes was released in 1998 and the Earthsiege/Starsiege universe in which it takes place is much older), many players can still be found on its servers. Some independent servers still regularly show upwards of 20 people (of a possible 64 per server) playing, and it is not uncommon to see games with 40 or more players.
Sierra, which is now part of Vivendi Universal, licensed the franchise to Irrational Games for a third installment; Tribes: Vengeance was released in October 2004. In an effort to increase interest in the upcoming sequel, Sierra released both the original Starsiege: Tribes and Tribes 2 for free download on May 4, 2004. Sierra is now no longer offering Tribes 2 keys. The installer is downloadable, but keys needed for online play were only distributed for a limited time. LAN play does not require a key.
On October 7, 2008, Sierra announced they were shutting down the servers required to play Tribes 2 as well as many other older games, and on November 3, 2008, the authentication and master server were shutdown.
Games Inspired by Tribes 2
After Dynamix was disbanded, Tribes 2 producer Dave Georgeson joined Sony Online Entertainment and headed-up development of Planetside, a massively multiplayer online first person shooter, one of the first of its kind.
The Torque Game Engine has spawned a large number of independent Tribes-inspired projects.
Tribes-inspired games include:
Upon initial release, a number of fans believed that Tribes 2 did not live up to the original because of limitations set on speed (Tribes had no such limits), a perceived over-emphasis on vehicles, the increased size of maps (some up to eight times larger), and the "dumbing down" of skiing; However, most players praised the sequel for the variation in game play it introduced. In particular, many players were enthusiastic about the improved vehicles and their expanded role in the game.
The jetpack and skiing game elements took center stage for a large and vocal faction of the Tribes community, which had the ear of then-Sierra staff member Alex "Marweas" Rodberg, who single-handedly had the job of managing the Tribes franchise. Rodberg convinced his superiors that the Tribes fans were passionate as well as multitudinous, and a third game was put into development. In order to convert complaining fans into returning customers, Sierra arranged to have GarageGames patch the remaining Tribes 2 glitches and add further enhancements to what had become an abandoned title.
Because of this emphasis, Tribes: Vengeance became a more hectic experience that highlighted the mobility aspects and played-down the strategy elements of the franchise. Coupled with a shorter-than-usual development cycle, poorly-timed release window, and marginalization of user modification abilities (vital to the longevity of the previous Tribes titles), Tribes: Vengeance was declared a failure and many believe it drove the last nail in the coffin for the franchise.
The Tribes 2 population today is still active and plays the game for free online using the TribesNext multiplayer patch. There are many servers on the server list, though only a handful of them are used frequently by players. The server list is viewable outside of Tribes 2 by clicking the link in the top-left of the TribesNext website (see link in references section). The most popular servers are Goon Haven, -A&C's- Arena Central, and [The-Construct.net] which run the mods Classic CTF, Base Arena, and Construction respectively. Additionally, there are several servers that are filled with bots and running various other mods, and a few "special event" servers that are only used for ladder matches, pickup games, and sometimes small public games. Lastly, the formerly popular Duel Mod can be found on the servers Practice and Competition, Wargrounds Classic Duel, -A&C's- Arena Central, and Slap Happy Arena Central. By voting to change the mission, you can play Classic Duel on the former two servers, and Base Duel on the latter two servers.
The once-intense Tribes 2 competitive community is also still around, though only a small handful of teams are competing. The only remaining active league is TWL, and the only ladders played in Tribes 2 are Classic CTF and Base Arena.
The 2004 electronic freeware re-release of Tribes 2 had little impact on the number of online players as Dynamix did not offer the keys required to login and play. Alternate servers did exist, however, which did not have this requirement. Using an alternate server was one of the few options that players had when looking to join an online game, until the TribesNext patch was developed.
On January 2nd, 2009 a community developed multiplayer patch for Tribes 2 was released called TribesNext that enables alternative servers to be used natively with the Tribes 2 install, without a CD key or the requirement to access the now defunct old servers. The full game and patch can be downloaded from the TribesNext server. The IRC chat server which can be accessed in game is #Tribes on Arloria.net.
The game uses ports 27999, 28000, and 28001-29000 UDP/TCP. Port 28000 may change as this is the main port the server communicates from. Port 27999 communicates the heartbeat (a signal that shows the server is still "alive"). The usage of ports 28001-29000 is unknown. Some people hosting have problems with their server not showing up on the master list. The problem is that people usually do not forward these specific ports.
|PC Gamer US||89/100|
- Download from The Exiled's File Library
- TribesNext. Retrieved on 8 January 2009.
- Tribes: Vengeance review at IGN, seen 2008-05-20
- TeamWarfare League
- TribalWar Forums. [T2] Alternate Master Server + No Cd key needed
- The-Construct Forums. The-Construct Master Server
- TribesNext seen 2009-01-08
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