For those of you that don’t know, Team Fortress 2 is a first person shooter that was released in 2007 by the video game creating Gods that are Valve. I initially played TF2 when I got the Orange Box for PS3, but had always wanted to get the PC version due to the PS3 one receiving no updates and most of my friends were playing it through Steam on the PC. In 2009 I finally had a computer good enough to play it and so parted with £6.99 for a second copy. Given the chance I would have paid a lot more for it as it holds the record of “Most Hours I’ve Spent on a Single Game”, which is currently around the 200 hour mark.
More Content Than you Can Shake a Hat At
Despite the game coming out 4 years ago new content has been continually produced by Valve (they show no sign of slowing either as there are some more big updates to come this year as well), and the players themselves thanks to the introduction of the Steam Workshop and Mann Co store. The game initially shipped with 9 playable classes, 31 weapons, 6 maps and 3 game modes. As of writing this the game had gone through 294 updates and now features 9 game modes, 50 official maps, over 170 unique weapons, “Meet the Team” animated shorts for 8 of the 9 classes, over 10 comics, 214 hats and 405 achievements. I’m struggling to think of another game that has not only been maintained by the developers for that long, but also expanded on with so much new content, all at no extra cost to the players. That’s right. Every single update has been free, and last year the game itself became free-to-play, making all the content available to everyone without having to part with a single penny.
The Beautiful Game
If you couldn’t tell by now; I absolutely love the game, and will play it any chance I get. I even started making my own map for it, although it has been on hold for quite a while now. One of the things I fell in love with from the beginning was the art style of the game. As this video shows, a lot of thought went into the designing of the characters and levels so that at any point you can look and up know instantly where you are and who is about to shoot you in the face. And it shows. All the characters, and to a lesser extent the weapons, are instantly recognisable, even in the heat of battle, and all the levels look and feel like they come from the same universe. Every little detail fits.
There have been complaints recently that some of the more recent hats and weapons are not in keeping with the overall theme and style of the game, and while I don’t agree with all of them I can see where they are coming from. There are two main reasons I don’t agree. 1) The theme of the maps is an innocuous exterior (farm, factory, mine etc) that hides an evil ‘bond villain’ type lair, usually complete with doomsday devices like giant lasers or missiles. I feel the majority of weapons fit in with this theme (the only ones that really stand out are the Deus Ex promotional ones). 2) The weapons and hats take up such a small and fleeting fraction of your field of view that they’re barely noticeable. You’re usually focused on the general aspects of what’s going on in the game, and when you are consciously looking the majority of the screen is filled with the well designed and beautiful levels and character models.
There’s Always A Way
The 9 classes and over 160 weapons means there are very, very few situation you can’t adapt to. I believe that with the correct combination of classes and weapons there is no offence or defence that is unbeatable. Of course in practise it depends heavily on both the players skills and the level of team work, but in theory there is more than enough choice to constantly adapt to the situation your team is facing. And despite what the fanboys claim each specific class has a specific weakness that can be exploited. It is a very well balanced game.
Stalemates do occur, but it doesn’t usually take long for a few people to switch class and tactics and push through. I usually play solo, by which I mean with people I don’t know and without mic or chat, but in the games I have played with friends I’ve found that just 2 people working together have a very good chance of turning the tide (it’s not called Team Fortress 2 for nothing!).