..and I just can't get enough of it!
It might just be because I've not been paying much attention to the FPS scene recently, but I can't remember the last time a big multiplayer FPS came out that wasn't set in some gritty modern or near-future setting. Ascend's so fast and bright and sci-fi, it feels like something from a completely different era. I'm reminded of Quake Wars, Half-Life and UT2k4 mods like Dystopia and Clone Bandits, of Quake's bigger CTF maps, of the original Planetside.. There's something special about it that I've just missed in gaming lately which I can't quite put my finger on.
Maybe its the high-HP and difficulty of hitting, which leads to longer, more tense firefights. It feels so different to modern games, which have become more and more about positioning, or simply shooting first, or sniping. Bouncing in circles around your opponent, forgetting all about the rest of the map while trying to just sneak that second shot in you need to finish them off.
Maybe its the jetpacks? There's no crates or chest-high walls to take cover behind in this game, because you spend most of your time airbourne. Rather than slogging along on foot to the flag or objective, you launch from your base towards theirs, or towards the flag carrier, or towards the nearest red enemy icon, ski down a hill, and you're there, in the fight.
Maybe its because at its heart the CTF is just old-school CTF, like you really don't see these days. Get in, get the flag, get the hell out as quickly as possible. Where TF2's CTF feels like some immaculately planned heist, with someone disabling defences, someone providing invincibility and some big hitter keeping the enemies dead, Ascend feels like a quick smash-and-grab where outrunning the defense is more effective than simply blasting a hole in it. The rush I get from snatching a flag in Ascend and launching myself down a slope at 160mph has already made it one of my games of 2012.
Is it just me? Have I somehow been missing the faster, more interesting multiplayer FPS' of recent years? Or is Tribes: Ascend really something special?