Team Fortress 2

After Aliens: Colonial Marines I instantly got bored of first person shooters. Yep, the game was so bad it resorted me to avoid the genre for a while like the plague, the same military shooting nonsense that corporate game companies muster up every year, it’s tiresome playing the same game every year, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t buy the latest Call of Duty game every year, I only have three COD games but only because they were cheap.

But then, on my summer break my friend showed me the light into an FPS that said ‘screw the rules’ and did something that no other new FPS could do, it made me have fun with it. That game was Team Fortress 2, developed and published by Valve and was released in 2007, but became a free to play game in 2011, this is an online multiplayer game, I actually got the game via The Orange Box last year, I mostly got it for Half Life 2 and Portal, TF2 was the last game I installed, all for £6 for a retail copy at Game.

Now I played the game a few times before this summer and I thought it was ok, but then my friend and I played all through the summer and I’ve never looked back, it is the most addicting FPS I’ve ever played let alone the most addicting game I’ve played since the Worms series.

The story is very weird, many FPSes don’t have complex stories, but this one probably has one of my favourite stories to a game, Redmond, Blutarch, and Gray Mann were born in 1822 as triplet sons of Zepheniah Mann, the owner of a successful arms manufacturing business. Gray was kidnapped by an eagle within minutes of birth during the Great Eagle Scourge of 1822 and goes missing for several years. In the 1860s, Redmond and Blutarch convinced Zepheniah to purchase numerous pieces of land in the United States as assets for the company (under the mistaken belief that steam engines ran on gravel, and that the land was filled with it), but once they travelled there, they found the land to be barren dustbowls, with only the occasional gravel pit.

Further, the travel caused Zepheniah to come down with numerous maladies, and died soon thereafter. In his will, Zepheniah bequeathed his munitions company, Mann Co., to his aide and tracker, the Australian hunter Barnabas Hale and his estate to his maidservant, Elizabeth. As punishment for their reckless and short-sighted scheme, Zepheniah’s will ordered that Redmond and Blutarch were to share the worthless land they had made him acquire. Soon, Blutarch created his own company, Builders League United (BLU), and hired mercenaries to take the land by force; Redmond followed suit with his own company, Reliable Excavation Demolition (RED).

So the game has 9 mercenaries, they are split into three categories, first is Offense, starting with:

• Scout, the youngest of the team, fast on his feet, good with a shotgun and a pistol and has the Bostonian attitude. He’s completely adrenaline fuelled, like Sonic with a gun (OH WAIT!).

• Solider, the ‘blow s#!% up’ member, good with a rocket launcher and is a true soldier to a degree, but this has probably affected him to the point where he’s completely insane. His character traits is American stereotype, likes to blow stuff up and insulting other country’s culture without knowing their culture, making him the most mean-spirited character in the game.

• Pyro, nobody knows if this Pyro is a male or female, gay or straight, human or something completely mysterious, this mercenary’s choice of weapon is a flame thrower, in the trailer, we find out that Pyro sees nice cute and cuddly things, but in reality, Pyro causes death and destruction whether it goes, burning anything that is considered a threat.

Defence include:

• Demoman, the black Scottish Cyclops, and angry mercenary who uses a grenade launcher and people’s favourite, the sticky bomb, tricking people to walk through them.

• Heavy, the Russian heavy weapons guy, mowing down everyone with his minigun and cracking skulls with his fists, he might look dumb but don’t intimidate him or you’ll have 200 holes in your body.

• Engineer, the Texas guy, like Donatello from TMNT he does machines only these machines consist of sentry guns, dispensers and teleporters, collecting metal to upgrade the machines to improve them like the sentry gun, from machine gun to rockets, but be careful, the spy might zap your machines. The strange thing about him is that he’s not insane like the other characters, he’s soft-spoken and always calm.

Then there’s Support:

• Medic – the German doctor, he provides health for his team members with his gun and holding it übercharges them. He works best with Heavy, mowing down everyone with no one being able to kill him.

• Sniper, the Australian marksman. Able to go back and headshot all the opponents, you got to hand it to him, he’s a professional and he has standards…which is bull considering he lives in a van and throws his own jar of piss.

• Spy, a French secret agent, he can turn invisible and back stab you, he can disguise as the opposite team member and backstab them, zap Engineer’s machines…he’s annoying if he’s not in your team.

This game is an online first person shooting multiplayer game, so there is going to be different types of objectives you can play in the game, first is payload, one of my favourites, if you’re on the BLU team, you got to move a bomb to the other side of the map, if you’re on the RED team you have to prevent the BLU team from getting to their goal. There’s also Capture the Flag, which is what it is. King of the Hill, in which you need to take control of a point and you have to protect it from your opponents.

Well those are the game modes I play. I recommend training before playing the games, this will enable you to figure out which character you play best as. It has a lot of maps for specific game modes, also there’s community maps and servers and oh boy they’re fun, especially the instant respawning maps.

The gameplay is not like Call of Duty, you don’t pick different weapons to best suit you, each character have their own specific weapons, for example, as a Solider, his main weapon is a rocket launcher, he can’t use a minigun. It’s all about skill, unlike Call of Duty you have you use what is going to benefit you in the game modes.

For the character’s skills need to be talked about (based on my experiences).

For Scout, he’s easy to use but when it comes to combat, it takes a lot of skill to use him effectively (which proves my point that Scouts are not for noobs), he uses different types of shotguns, cans of sugar, and a bat. To use him, you need to time your speed and where to jump and how to shoot people when speeding around the place, but using it right he becomes ever so useful in the battlefield.

In most maps I use Solider, using his rocket launchers (notably the Liberty Launcher) to blow up people short and long range combat, his secondary weapon is his shotgun but I replaced it with the Righteous Bison as it takes away a lot of health, 2-3 successful shots of this will disintegrate the opponent (the next time you see a character disintegrate; he turns black with sparks coming or of him, similar to how something disintegrates in Portal…think about it). Also his rocket jump is hard to master but when done right, you can fly everywhere and smack people to death with your melée weapon.

The pyro has it’s trusty flamethrower, burning people, (it’s also annoying when you get burned, and before you can reach that health, you die), burning people and the melée weapons vary, some weapons have the ability to burn people, it’s dangerous when you’re alone and any health or a Medic is far away, unless you have a good weapon you don’t have a prayer. To add more mystery, Pyro’s personality is ever so confusing, having multiple moods shown by his taunts.

The Demoman is the jack of all trades but hard to master, I don’t know whether the grenade launcher is a close or short range weapon, you takes a lot of practice to figure out how to use it correctly, his melée weapon (various swords) are awesome, he might be difficult for guns, but I think melée is his strengths.

The Heavy has his minigun, he’s perfect when there’s a bunch of guys in front of you, and that’s also the problem, there’s a bunch of guys, and they see him and they pretty much go, “HIT THAT MASSIVE TARGET”, you’re a big target and unless you have a Medic or other people in your team around you, you’re not going to live long, especially when a Sniper’s around. The fact that his secondary weapons and his fists might be his weaknesses, he’s too slow to use them like the minigun. But even with his weaknesses he’s fun to use.

I never used the Engineer before but now I use him more often, the problem is putting your machines in the right place, by putting a sentry gun in a good place can cause many problems for the other team, which is cool, and you can collect a ton of kills if you’re lucky, but he has his issues, the most anxious of players like me will always stand with his guns and dispensers at all times and never going into the battlefield since you’re always worried about the damage caused by players, and then there is the Spy, who uses a zapper to break your stuff and stab you in the back (or the other way around, either way, you’re totally screwed).

Medic is the one I never use, in fact I’ve used him the least, mostly because he’s a doctor, not a warrior…well he can if you can actually use him. His only use is to heal other players, trying not to die is another thing since he is a dependant, everyone needs him and he will hear “MEDIC” every second, but when you heal people, to the point where they’ll be able to continue and win the match, you feel proud knowing that you played a big part in the match.

But his biggest use is when there is a Heavy, charge him up to 100% and you get the Übercharge, in which you and Heavy become invincible for a short period of time and how satisfying it is to mow down everyone knowing that you won’t take any damage in that time period. As it is, I’m more of an action man, not a doctor.

The Sniper is probably my favourite class if the map is in my favour (Badwater Basin anyone?), he hides far away and can headshot anyone who he can aim at, some people have an issue with him though, that he just hides away to get cheap kills…THAT IS WHAT A SNIPER DOES! It’s always satisfying when getting headshot after headshot, got a Blu member riding the bomb, headshot him, but be warned, the Sniper isn’t for anxious players, people move frequently so make sure you try to aim quickly.

The funniest moments with him is when another sniper is on the other side, before a game starts, you see another sniper and that sniper sees you, we aim at each other and wait, when the gates open we see who gets killed first, me or him, best Mexican standoff ever! But he does have his problems, Spies have a better chance of backstabbing you, but you have a Razorback for that (that and his Jarate is funny) and his melée weapons aren’t that great to kill most classes but work well when attacking Spy if he’s not as slivery as usual. His character trait is mostly jackass, always taking pleasure in making fun quips at the people he just killed but the quips are funny nonetheless.

And finally, Spy, without doubt the most difficult class to use, always needing to be stealthy, always needing to hide and go behind the opposite team to backstab them, yep you can turn invisible or disguise as one of the team members in the opposite team. You can zap the Engineer’s machines and kill him in the process and use a gun that’s overpowered. But the problem is trying to use him, since you have to time it, one false move and you’ll be caught.

Another issue is that players have been known to check for spys, even trying to shoot other players (luckily you can’t kill your own team members) just to see if they’re a Spy or not so playing as a Spy now is even more difficult. You got to have a lot of practice to use him right. He’s the French agent, he’s sneaky and despite being in a specific team you still don’t know whether to trust him, he’ll even make love to your mother if given the chance.

The graphics might not be realistic but the art style is some of the best I’ve seen in an FPS, it has that cartoony feel to it that makes it appealing to me, it’s unique enough to be genuine, everything you see will leave you remembering everything you witness, the character designs are just awesome, their looks and personalities shine bright and makes them entertaining to see, play as or even listen to. Well there are a couple of issues I have with the design; some maps look the same with its desert environments, it can become a bit repetitive but there are other maps that aren’t set in the desert that I like so there is variety.

The music is mostly variety, many classes have themes songs and I really like listening to them, especially when there on the menu screen. As it’s an FPS, the controls are great but don’t go for a controller as it controls poorly, use a keyboard and mouse instead.

Overall, this is probably my favourite game ever made, nicely balanced gameplay, just all around entertaining, I will continue to play this game until the Valve shuts down the official servers, then we need to find the unofficial servers, they’re always messy fun.

From what I’ve learnt is that first person shooters can be a good thing, it’s all about what kind you’re making, if you’re going to make one that every other person is making, the ‘is it like Call of Duty’ games, then you’re pretty much in the band wagon of beating a dead horse, in fact, Team Fortress 2 was originally going to be a military shooter, and thank goodness it changed to give us a more better experience. There are good FPSes like Half-Life, Portal, Bioshock and Far Cry 3 as well as the old-school shooters like Doom, and I can add this game to good shooters that define the genre.

You can get for free on Steam (PC), PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as part of The Orange Box.

Rating: 4.5/5

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3 thoughts on “Team Fortress 2

  1. I have just started playing TF2 a few days ago (yeap, still a newb) and god am I hooked! Great write up by the way, especially the back story to it. I’ve always thought that Red and Blue just stands for what it is.
    Thanks for satisfying my craving for TF2!

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