Team Fortress 2: Two years on
Of course Team Fortress 2 did get plenty of attention from certain circles, particularly fans of the original Quake Team Fortress and its semi sequel, the Team Fortress Classic mod for the first Half Life. Although the very same developers were involved in the now officially sanctioned sequel, Team Fortress 2 actually ended up alienating plenty of its most hardcore fans. Grievances ranged from petty to absurd, but mostly revolved around the lack of grenades and the supposedly gimped medic class. Thankfully there are now more than enough people actively playing Team Fortress 2 to drown out this kind of unwanted and thoroughly unwarranted noise.
At this point I should probably explain the basic concept of Team Fortress 2 to anyone who didn’t understand a word of that last paragraph. The idea is achingly simple: two teams built up of various classes attempt to get the better of each other in a series of timeworn team based games like capture the flag and domination. Each class has its own unique set of abilities and weapons, such as the sniper, medic and demoman.
There are a couple of classes that aren’t self-explanatory, however. The engineer has very little offensive capabilities, yet he also has the unique ability to construct stationary, automatic sentry guns that
Shoot the medic, not the big fat guy with the gun. I really can't emphasise this enough.
As is so important with this type of game, each class has a weakness which can be exploited by the other team. Spies might seem annoyingly invincible, yet put them in front of a pyro’s flamethrower and watch their disguise crumble as they’re burnt to a cinder. Likewise, the heavy weapons guy might appear to be an unstoppable man mountain, yet his bulk and lack of speed makes him an easy target for snipers and spies. It’s this balance that’s absolutely crucial to Team Fortress 2's success, and for the most part it hits the nail squarely on the head.
If it ever feels like you’re up against unfair odds, that’s most likely because you’re playing against a team that’s simply better organised than your own. As all team based games should be, communication and organisation is vital. Can’t get past the sentry guns? Communicate with your spies and get them to deal with the sentries before you charge in. Alternatively you could ask your medics to charge up an invincible uber attack and take down the sentries that way. There’s no situation that’s unsurmountable in Team Fortress 2; just bad teamwork and good teamwork.
This finely balanced equation of classes and teamwork has been fairly well maintained by
All the classes play important roles, but there are few that are simply vital.
I will say that Valve’s drip-feeding of updates (running on Valve time, naturally) has left some classes in dire need of upgrading; most notably the maligned, rocket launcher wielding soldier. Initially overpowered and subsequently reigned in by Valve by way of less ammo, the soldier now finds himself mostly unused thanks to his ridiculously long loading times and lack of ammo. He’s still deadly in the right hands and serves a purpose in certain situations (mostly rocket spamming over eager teams), yet upgrading him with weapons that deal with these weaknesses, as has been the case with other classes, would make him far more useful in the eyes of most.
No matter how contentious, these generously free updates help breath new life in to the game and give players a reason to keep coming back for more and more. Curiously absent from the otherwise excellent 360 version, they’re another
The demoman is one of the harder classes to master, yet deadly in the right hands.
And that’s thanks in part to the game’s refusal to pander to the hardcore (you can take your stupid grenades and...) and in doing so, leaving the door firmly open to newcomers. Unlike the Battlefield’s and Call of Duty’s of this world, aside from a few of more obtuse elements (mostly revolving around the spy and engineer classes) there’s almost no learning curve involved in Team Fortress 2. Almost anyone can pick the pyro class and be melting the face off spies in seconds. And due to the team based nature of the game, even the worst players can be made to feel useful in the right team. Combined with the welcoming aesthetics (no stony-faced soldiers here...apart from the soldier), Team Fortress 2 is unusual in its newcomer friendly approach.
Easy to pick up and play, incredibly difficult to put down, Team Fortress 2 is a masterclass in multiplayer gaming that has yet to be bettered on any platform. And yes, that includes Call of Duty and Halo. As fresh and as entertaining as it was two years ago, I wouldn’t bet against it still being top of the pile in another two year’s time. Do yourself a favour and grab a copy off Steam - it’s ludicrously cheap and represents superb value for money.
Midori No Hibi“
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