Team Fortress 2

For a game that has been in development since, well since forever, Team Fortress 2 still comes across as feeling a little devoid of options, in particular playable maps. However, with just the six maps, and two gameplay types (capture the flag and control point) out of the box the game still has loads of replay value. The main reason for this is just as you would expect from any good multiplayer game, the maps are expertly made, relatively small, easy to commit to memory, and stand up well to the longest of play sessions without ever getting tiresome. In fact, all of TF2 is well made, with the nine character classes, imaginative environments, and striking graphics presented in the best way possible.

Of course, as you can see by the screenshots, and as you most likely already know, TF2 controversially differs visually from the rest of its Orange Box brethren, choosing to boast some cartoony visuals instead of the usual highly realistic look that Valve are known for. While this may seem a weird decision at first, and may even put some people off the game, it is hardly a deal breaker, and in truth actually suits the madcap high paced natured of the game better than more natural looking visual ever would. The style is not only a highly distinctive one, it is also pulled off very well, with everything about the game looking very clean and highly memorable. Aside from the graphics, one aspect that truly sets Team Fortress 2 apart from the rest is how it handles kills and deaths. Sure, it is nice to get a “killing spree” medal, and find out that Luke owes you a Steak dinner in Halo 3, but when TF2 flat out tell you are been dominated by another player, then does a big zoom in on that player after he kills you, it certainty does a lot to drive you to better yourself at the game, and hopefully overcome that bit of embarrassment. Parts of gameplay also further this fact, and if you are getting dominated by someone they will get more points with each kill.

Unlike most other multiplayer FPS titles where the selection of armaments are the stars of the game, it is the selection of characters, and the vast differences between them, that are the real selling point of Team Fortress 2. Not only does each character have different attributes for running speed and starting health, they also each have access to a different primary weapons, which suits their play style. Also, unlike other multiplayer shooters there is no running round the map, picking up each weapon, and picking up the weapons of your fallen foe. For example, the Pyro, which just happens to be my most used class, has access to a short-range flamethrower, a shotgun and a fire axe. As you can most likely guess, with those weapons he is great at close range fighting. Conversely, you can pick the Sniper who is great at long distance fighting, and has access to a sniper rifle, a submachine gun and a machete. Each of these character also have other attributes and skills, such as an engineer been able to install powerful turrets throughout the environments, the Heavy having the most HP, and Spy being able to disguise himself as any class on either side to lure people into a false sense of security before sneaking up and hitting them with a melee attack. With all of this info you must use the weapon specific to your class along with some skill, when trying to fit in well into the team to come out victorious.

I will honestly admit that online gaming has never really been my thing, and aside from Halo 2, and now 3, I have never really got my teeth into any other game for an extended length of time. There is good reason for this as well, a reason which can be summed up in two simple words. I suck. For any online game that involve tactics I usually seem to be just terrible at it, and after ten or more games of me dying continuously I just give up. Obviously, Team Fortress 2 could easily be one of these games. It has layers of tactics involved with its vast selection of characters, and even more depth comes from each of those characters having strengths and weaknesses against all of the others. I will admit that if TF2 had not been part of The Orange Box I’d probably have never even considered playing it.

However, that would have been a big mistake on my part, a very big one, as spending about a few hours with TF2 shows that it is quite a compelling game. Then a few more hours in it just gets better and better. Of course, the complexity is still an issue, but thankfully Valve seem to have even taken the time to ease people (read: me) into the depths of the game, even including a helpful ‘how to’ video for those that might need them. In fact, they do it so well that that most people, even those with very little knowledge of team based shooters, could become quite adept after a while. When all is said and done TF2 still plays just like you’d expect it to. It is still close to the same game as it always was, but now crucially open enough to let anyone even slightly interested in experience it in without bombarding them with an overabundance of confusing information. Or in other words, it rocks!

Get in the fort!

8.5 out of 10

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