Friday, 17 October 2008

Team Fortress 2 Review

We've seen games about the Vietnam War. We've definitely got an abundance of WWII based games. We even have a couple of games about the Korean War. But why, oh why, did the developers always choose to overlook the daddy of them all: The eternal struggle of Red and Blu. Valve have broken the silence on the western front, and now all the horrors of inter-colourary war are brought to a computer near you.

The first thing you'll notice is it's art style. Just because it's not some hardcore-looking, gritty simulation of humanity's favourite pastime, it doesn't mean it needs to be avoided like my syphilis-carrying gerbil. TF2 is a game stripped of the banal overgarments of the average shooter, which allows the inner essence of pure fun to take over. Quite frankly, if you're under the impression that TF2 is inferior to other shooters thanks to its lack of vehicles, and even because of its art style, you need a compressed air blast to the anus.

What makes TF2 better than all competitors is the fact that realism is not allowed to rear its ugly, melancholy head. By banishing even a sliver of it from the game, Valve have released online gaming from its shackles. Shackles?

Yes. Alright, I'm crap at games. Whenever I play Battlefield 2, I get killed. A lot. But to be brutally honest, I'm crap at TF2. I get killed a lot, but thanks to the aforementioned inner essence of fun, I'm not frustratedly hammering my keyboard like the angry German kid. Huzzah!

Unlike any other shooter that I can think of, each of TF2's nine classes are unique, and they are grouped into three types: Offence, Defence and Support. While the offence and defence classes can arguably fluctuate between their roles, the support class are very much support (or at least, most people wouldn't recommend having a medic lead the charge). Most people tend to play the game expecting to love a single class, and end up loving several; I always thought I'd be playing scout most, and indeed he is one of my favourites, but I also hold a soft spot for the pyro. Classes in TF2 though, are actually characters. The scout is suitably annoying, the heavy as intimidating as would be expected, and it's hard not to love the pyro's muffled cries and two-sizes-too-big boilersuit.

It's environments are all wonderfully varied, like Badwater Basin, a payload map. Payload consists of one team being entasked with escorting a bomb along a rail to the end, where it explodes (it gets bonus points for that alone). The opposing team, naturally, have to stop them. The way that the map is built means that there is always a way to flank the other team. Although they usually acknowledge this and have it covered, the occasions when they haven't can change a game, or at the very least ensure that the area is carpeted with pipe bombs and shotgun shells for minutes at a time.

Perhaps I love TF2 because I'm not dead after a couple of bullets - definitely the most frustrating thing about other games. Perhaps I love TF2 because of its brilliantly crafted maps, perfectly balanced classes and excellent game modes. Perhaps it's the fact that any minute problem with the game is pointed out by the community, and Valve promptly improve the game. The way that Valve are completely open to changing things on the fly, along with the new maps, unlockable weapons and even game-modes included in their updates, is part of what makes TF2 the best multiplayer experience available.