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Smite, a clone of DotA; Tribes: Ascend: Free MMOFPS based on Global Agenda

Sara Lau
Aug 31,2011  03:08 by
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Hi-Rez Studios has made a clear timetable for its new products. In addition to Global Agenda, it will continue to release Smite and Tribes: Ascend which are targeted to enter into the beta testing phase respectively this year. Besides, there is also an upcoming MMORPG called Tribes Universe. Fortunately, we were allowed to lay hands on Smite and Tribes: Ascend at Gamescom 2011. After an elaborate comparison, we come to the conclusion that one of the three is only mediocre, while the other definitely has potential to be a surprise hit.

If you also visited Gamescom 2011, you would have probably come across two promising titles, that is, Smite and Tribes: Ascend, both of which are developed by Hi-Rez Studios. Together with other colleagues, I joined in the fair and had the chance to play those two games. Now, I’d like to introduce my understanding of the two games for you.

Secretly developed by Hi-Rez Studios, Smite is a typical representative of the MOBA-genre (Massive Online Battle Arena). In essence, Smite is a clone of DotA with only a small and subtle difference: In Smite, you play your hero in the third-person perspective thanks to its Unreal Engine 3. At first, it sounds not particularly exciting or innovative; however, it turns out to bring about a pleasant refreshing feel later when we go deep into the game.

Before we plunge into battles, we must first choose our God. Smite offers all sorts of heroes derived from ancient mythologies; as a result, you can assume the role of the reincarnation of a god. In the current version, there are only nine playable options, including Anubis, Zeus, Hades and Bastet, etc. But according to the interview on the spot, the number will grow to 30 when the game is officially launched. And the gods will be divided into five factions, each with six origins: Indian, Norse, Chinese, Greek and Egyptian.

Finally, when you immerse yourself in the game world, it quickly becomes clear that Smite has achieved a high MOBA standard in all aspects. You can play five to five and there are three lanes or paths leading you to confront with your opponents. We must help our minions to destroy the enemy towers on the way to the enemy base. And if we leave the main path, we will encounter more or less neutral monsters that you can defeat to earn special buffs. It is particularly noteworthy that you will encounter a giant squid which can only be vanquished through teamwork. And you will earn a strong buff as a reward by defeating it, so this confrontation counts as a decisive battle in the game.

Smite also cherishes various other well-known features. In detail, our character can climb up to level 20 and acquire skills along the way. Each god has a passive skill and four active skills, one of which can not be learned from the start and increases more slowly than the others. If we are in our own base, we can easily go to the shop via a simple clickaway. The shop offers a series of attribute-enhancing equipments in three different levels which can, of course, boost up your combat power.

And as mentioned above, the implementation of third-person perspective makes for a distinctive feeling. So we no longer control our hero with point and click like a strategy game, but manipulate the hero with WASD as a role-playing game. And our opponents will not be automatically targeted; instead, we have to manually target at them. Undoubtedly, enemies within range must be eliminated at first. By the way, the developer installs three different game styles: Mage, Assassin and Tank. And it is expected that some gods will be able to combine two categories.

Each character possesses his or her unique abilities which must be cast accordingly. For example, a mage takes possession of, among other things, highly effective spells. A spell can be cast in a conical shape or a circular shape depending on the attributes of our character. Other gods, for example, can summon walls to be placed anywhere they want. Our strongest ability is the power to emit a kind of magic beam that lasts for a certain amount of time and can shoot through everything. It is indeed extremely powerful.

Smite will not go into its closed beta until the end of the year, but it is surprisingly fascinating for the use of the skills, which looks sophisticated and runs smoothly. And it also provides character progression in the meta-games outside of the main action-oriented content, providing a long-term motivation.

The payment or business model is based on a Free to Play mode. But you can still spend some money to attain better performance. The gods can be purchased directly via ingame store and you can even buy a whole package of them if you are rich enoguh. Additionally, you can also participate in meta-games so as to earn more power-ups and to level up more quickly. Even cosmetic skins for the gods are purchasable. In the initial phase, Smite will start with one map; therefore, you can only experience part of the whole game. But don’t worry! More content will be presented to us in its beta.

To my mind, Smite will have a hard time at the beginning because of fierce competition from DotA2 and League of Legends. Nevertheless, it has the potential to prevail and I’m eagerly looking forward to the launch of the beta. Although the gameplay looks quite action-packed, you have to combine skills and tactics in the proper way. Actually, I met with some positive surprises from the show and the game left a very good impression on me.

And another project Tribes: Ascend, an online shooter, will launch the Closed Beta in September and be officially released later this year. The developers want to incorporate as many elements as possible from the original series, so we will have access to much familiar stuff, such as jetpacks, skis and vehicles. The main mode of the game is “Capture the Flag”, namely each team has a base which is guarded by a powerful defensive NPC. In each base, there is also a generator next to the flag. You must protect the generator from any enemy attacks because its destruction will lead to the weakening of your defensive power. Besides, a hare-hunting mode is also implemented.

But not everything stays the same permanently. In addition to some new arms such as pistols or SMGs, one thing also grasps our attention: You can now select different classes. Currently, we have access to nine options, but there will be at least 15 choices at the beta. Not only do they have different attributes, but each class also has its special ability like temporary invisibility. As for the business model, it is almost identical with that of Smite. Tribes: Ascend is free to play and access to new classes can either be earned through the advancement of one’s character, or be bought with real money. Similar to Smite, this game also comprises various meta-games which provide many opportunities to join in matches and earn experience points via a certain perk system.

The normal game mode of Tribes: Ascend is 16 vs 16, but you can also take part in other combat modes like 5 on 5 to your liking. Of course, it is entertaining, but we still have the feeling that we are in a more spacious, prettier and faster world of Global Agenda.

In essence, Tribes: Ascend is quite playable, but it seems that it is greatly inspired by Global Agenda. But of course, it also possesses some distinctive features, including persistent maps, fancy vehicles and so on. By the way, the picturesque and sprawling maps are really impressive.

And Tribes: Ascend is also not a bad game. Maybe because I have tested Global Agenda quite extensively, so I feel the two share lots of similarities. Nevertheless, this does not change the fact that Tribes: Ascend looks pretty good and offers a lot of fun. And fortunately, we can soon get its whole picture in the beta.

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