The Splintering has begun. The Tribes of Man now move away from HERCULAN armored vehicles and instead rely on vastly-mobile armored warriors capable of more dynamic attack formations and quicker onslaughts than ever possible with HERCs. Thanks to the use of meta-jumpgates and the ability to travel with a much lighter load, the Children of the Phoenix are capable of expanding out into the wilderzone with greater ease. To try and stop the spread of the Phoenix, the Great Human Empire sent the Order of the Blood Eagle into the wilderzone. Due to the Empire's lack of reinforcements and supplies, the Order of the Blood Eagle officially claims itself as an autonomous entity outside of the Throne's jurisdiction. Bitter at the separation of humankind, the Empire is set on enforcing rule throughout the wilderzone. The Blood Eagle and Children of the Phoenix, both claiming themselves completely independent and self-reliant, strongly resist the Empire's force. Although the two major tribes have a common enemy, they do not collaborate due to their original conflict and constant toils for inhabitable lands. The intensity of battles between the Children of the Phoenix and Blood Eagle has declined, but warfare is still a constant in tribal life. In this turbulent era of the Tribes universe, an Imperial princess of only five years of age witnesses the cold murder of her mother by a team of rebellious Phoenix warriors.
From Irrational Games comes Tribes: Vengeance, the third installment in the Tribes franchise. Through the eyes of five different people in three different time frames, the story of the Imperial princess Victoria's capture and murder in separate ambushes by the Children of the Phoenix and her daughter's revenge is unraveled to show not just a simple story but an intricate web of lies, deceit, and love. With such a deep single player mode, you almost forget that Tribes is primarily a multiplayer game and that the purpose of the campaign, aside from telling an amazing story, is to introduce you to the concepts of Tribes so that you are well prepared for an entrance into the high-speed world that is Tribes multiplayer.
Through the use of the powerful Unreal Engine and the talent of Irrational Games, the creators of System Shock II and Freedom Force, Tribes: Vengeance reinvents Tribes with interactive environments, a slew of new weapons and features, and, of course, the implementation of jet packs and skiing. New to the game is the Buckler, a controllable futuristic frisbee, the Grappler, a grappling hook, the Rocket Pod, a weapon firing a cluster of 6 controllable rockets, the Burner, the flamethrower predecessor of the Plasma Rifle, and the Energy Blade, a fallback knife. Although none of the vehicles are completely new, they seem to have been designed to remove the teamwork from piloting to create more of a 'lone warrior' feel, but can be organized with multiple passengers for increased damage and effectiveness if desired.
Another change that veterans will notice right away is the changing of skiing from a constant hopping action to a literal removal of friction. The idea of this change was to increase the initial simplicity of Tribes gameplay to cater to new players without lowering the challenge of true mastery, but many returning fans see this as dumbing the game down to make it easier to master. Tribes: Vengeance may not be a 'completely revolutionary' or groundbreaking game as promised, but no matter how you look at it, with the great single player story, and the fast multiplayer action, Tribes: Vengeance can hold its own. So if you are new to the Tribes scene, now is an excellent time to jump in, or if you are a long time follower of the Starsiege/Tribes universe, don't expect to leave any time soon.