If you ever wanted to feel the joy of flying over someone?s head while taking quick aim and blowing them up, then Hi-Rez Studios? new game, Tribes Ascend, may be what you?re looking for.

Tribes Ascend, the latest in the Tribes series, and the title not to be released by original developers Sierra Entertainment, is a free multiplayer online first-person shooter that allows players to slide around and launch themselves into the air, all while carefully aiming to destroy the other team.

Those familiar with other Tribes games know exactly what gamers are getting themselves into. The two main modes of movement – ?skiing? where players slide down hillsides picking up speed and momentum, and flying or hovering using the jetpack. Funnily enough, these two elements of the game make for a strange combination: one moment you?re almost uncontrollably speeding through a firefight, so fast the enemy team barely has time to even see you?re there. The next, you?re slowly floating over them, pulling a grenade from your belt and dropping it into the mess of enemies and allies down below.

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The game itself sports a number of modes – Team Deathmatch pits players against each other in teams, with a flag capture that provides the flag bearing team with double XP, used to level up weapons and armor as well as rank. The other freely available mode is Capture the Flag, while Arena and Capture and Hold modes are only available to those who have hit level 8.

Regardless of which mode you play, the plethora of classes available as well as their upgrades will determine how you play, as well as be determined by your play style. There are nine classes available in total, with only three of those available from the start – the Pathfinder, light and fast like your typical scout class, the Soldier, an all-rounder medium class that can take a hit and deal one too, and the Juggernaut, a heavy beast who will not go down without a fight. Like any game that gives you class options, experimenting with which class suits you is a must, as the game rewards teamwork, and choosing the best class for you is optimal for this.

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Other classes and upgrades are also available but must be bought with in-game gold available for purchase via the store, or by earning XP which you can then spend. While unlocking a new class, such as the Engineer who can drop turrets, will set you back 7,200 XP or 160 Gold, earning your 4th armor upgrade on Soldier class will cost you 6,200 XP. Saving up that amount of XP can take several hours depending on your luck, your skill and how your team fares, so knowing how you play and what class you?ll likely want to play as will save you quite a bit of time.

Either way, one thing all players will need to learn if they haven?t done so in other games is learning to track your enemy and estimate their position. One of the steeper learning curves of the game, those who ?spray and pray? are far less likely to be much use, as the often long distances between enemies, and typical travelling speeds will mean most shots will miss. Instead, it?s pretty typical that, unless in close range, players will opt for their splash damage weapon in the hopes of peeling some health from the enemy. Gamers who have played their fair share of Quake and used its rocket launcher will probably be the ones getting those direct air kills.

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It?s been noted by some gamers unfamiliar with the Tribes series that Tribes Ascend looks similar to Halo. Sure, if you drum it down to its basics – hi-tech suits and alien environments, many wide-area futuristic shooters may look the same. But while the detail into each class? suits and skins are quite detailed, to the point that you can pick most of these classes from high above, the scenery itself is not particularly engaging. Outside of a main focal point such as a detailed building, or scattered tree life, the landscape is pretty empty and uninteresting. However, considering how fast you?re sliding past everything, and the fact that most scenery in each map kind of gets in the way while trying to outmanoeuvre the enemy chasing you, this is completely forgivable.

Hi-Rez Studios did a great job with Tribes Ascend, bringing back a game that is fun, challenging, and different to most multiplayer first person shooters on the market. And did I mention it?s free? It provides so much in return for asking for so little, and is definitely worth trying. Tribes Ascend is available now for PC, and can be downloaded via their website.

Score: 9/10

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