Team Fortress 2 Article Series, part 1 – The Review
The game industry changed three years ago. Two radically different games were released. One was a futuristic shooter in a sandbox environment and the other offered a team-based experience, but both games had something very important in common: they revolutionized the industry in terms of graphic.
Crysis was viewed as the most beautiful game ever made, and the graphic hysteria – where ever a developer tried to out-shine the competition with bigger textures, brighter lightning and other nonsense – came to an end. No one could possibly compete with Crysis, people thought. Except the other game – the team based shooter. Team Fortress 2.
When developing the game, Valve used a different and highly unconventional approach. They threw every idea of realism out the window and took a lot of inspiration from comic books. TF2 was given a goofy, almost cartoon-like graphic – which effectively made it incomparable to any game on the market, including Crysis.
In retrospect one must give credit to Valve. Their choice of design was sheer genius; even though they made use of an old engine, everything looked as charming as it was timeless.
Two teams – two colors
Team Fortress 2 is still one of the best-looking products on the market, but does the game have anything else to offer other than boldish face-animations and beautiful maps? It does.
As in most team based-games, players need to side with one of two factions. There’s no real difference between the two combatants, and the only thing that separates them is the color. One team fights under a blue banner, while the other enters the battle in blood-red costumes.
Team Fortress 2 is all about different classes. And when I say different, I mean different. Valve has managed to dig up the most entertaining stereotypes available, equipped them with a rad arsenal and pitted them against each other. A total of nine classes hit the field and all are very, very different.
The heavy charges in to battle with a machine gun and sandviches, spitting out both bullets and mocking comments to anyone willing to accompany him. Because of his excessive eating, the heavy is a slow – albeit muscular – fighter and needs constant baby sitting from his comrades.
I won’t be talking too much about the classes though, as we’re planning to publish an article on each and every class. All you need to know is that there’s something for everyone: from pyros and engineers, to light-weight scouts and arrogant spys.
Pull my finger
Comedy is a integral part of Team Fortress 2. Every class is unique not only in equipment, but in personality. The medic is a remnant from a war-torn Germany, eagerly awaiting any opportunity to “aid” his team mates with a surgical incision.
“All I can tell you about zis next procedure is zat it will be…excruciating!” – Medic
The heavy is as Russian as vodka, ready to retreat in the middle of a battle if he’s feeling hungry.
“Some people think they can outsmart me. … I’ve yet to meet one that can outsmart bullet.“ – Heavy
The list of funny quotes could go on for ages, but all you really need to know is this: bursting out in laughter isn’t unusual. And while comedy is a vital part of the game, it would be a fairly useless aspect if Team Fortress 2 itself wasn’t entertaining. Don’t worry though; it is.
Every session is a game of death match in Team Fortress 2, but luckily most maps also involve some kind of objectives. In 2Forts for instance, each team is granted a headquarters on opposite sides of a river. The goal is to infiltrate the opponent and retrieve a suitcase. The mode is basically capture the flag with a twist.
Two other, widely popular game modes are Push the cart and Capture the point. If you join a game of push the cart, you have the choice of either playing as an attacker or a defender. Defenders need to stop the opposing team from pushing a cart – and thus stopping them from advancing on the map. If the cart reaches its final destination, the game ends in a massive explosion and everything is restarted – with defenders being attackers and vice versa.
Capture the point doesn’t require much explaining and your assignment is to capture… well, points. Your opponents are trying to do the same, resulting in fire-fights focused around these deadly hubs.
Work together or die alone
As with any team-based game Team Fortress 2 requires a great deal of team work. Each class is granted unique qualities needed to win; the engineer can provide ammunition and the heavy always needs a medic to have his back.
If you hate relying on your team mates and would much rather fight alone, that’s not a problem either. By choosing the spy you can embark on adventures of your own, destroying both sentries and back-stabbing opponents.
Though Team Fortress 2 does most things right, it has a few flaws. The game has always had balance issues – something which severely crippled the competitive scene. Furthermore, it doesn’t have a very lasting appeal. Sure, TF2 is highly addictive at first – but after playing the same maps and modes a few hundred times, you grow weary of the endless iterations. After a while I stopped firing at my opponents and realized that I’ve been in the same fight a couple of times already – a feeling that occurs frequently when you’ve played the game for a few weeks.
I must also admit that I’m not a big fan of the respawn time. TF2 hasn’t embraced death match in its full extent and if you die, there’s a waiting time in store for you. Sometimes you’ll have to wait up to 20 seconds – which simply isn’t fun in a fast-paced game where you die quite a lot. I tend to play on servers where the respawn time has been shortened by the server admin.
Flawed, but enjoyable
If you look past these minor issues, Team Fortress 2 is one of the more entertaining shooters currently available. Valve has succeeded in a number of ways, providing their customers with an action-packed, unique and – most of all – hilarious shooter.
After three years of fine-adjustments the balance has also been taken care of. With a few exceptions, every class has its own use – whether its the spy going behind enemy lines and capturing points, or the heavy defending a choke point. Include the fact that Valve is constantly updating the game and you’ll have some new toys every now and then.