Written by Forrest Messer
It’s hard to believe that Team Fortress 2 has been out for nearly three and half years, I still remember first hearing about it in a ventrillo server while my friends laughed hysterically at the larger than life characters the game featured. Despite being out for so long, Valve has managed to keep Team Fortress 2 as fresh as the day it came out with a near constant stream of un-priced content patches that have fleshed out the game even to the extent of redefining it, and now, It’s free. That’s right, there is now absolutely no reason to not completely lose yourself in the finely tuned multiplayer experience that is Team Fortress 2. The game is comprised of nine mercenary classes that have been hired by competing corporate interests. These nine classes are then broken into three subclasses; Offense, Defense, and Support. There is truly something here for everyone, with each class performing vital but different roles.
This big guy isn’t gonna let a little ‘arrow-to-the-hand’ stop him.
One of the most striking things about TF2 is the cast of characters. The gentlemen (and gentlewomen) at Valve are well known for their incredibly memorable characters, and TF2 (despite having no single player story mode to speak of) is absolutely no exception to this. From The Sniper’s disapproving parents to The Spy’s steamy love affair with The Scout’s mother, each character is absolutely packed with personality and quirk. I found great joy in the personality of literally every single playable class, in which many psychological disorders and mental conditions are represented. The setting is simplistic yet humorous with a cast of supporting characters that tend to make small cameos whenever the game is updated (such as Saxton Hale, CEO of Mann Co.) On top of all this, the stylized graphics manage to continue looking remarkably youthful despite being several years old, it isn’t going to blow you away with it’s realism, but it isn’t trying to. All of these things come together to make a completely over the top setting that takes itself about as serious as a shrug yet still manages to make the characters believable in their context.
After a few days on a map, it starts to feel like home.
On top of the incredibly amusing cast of characters, TF2 boasts a fine tuned team-based multiplayer experience that is fun from the get go but also caters to players willing to invest the time to learn the more subtle or advanced tricks to each class. To someone who isn’t a veteran of PC shooters, the learning curve can be a bit daunting, but nothing too unmanageable. Combat in TF2 flows in a way that only a developer with a pedigree like Valve can pull off, it’s fast paced no matter what class you’re playing and this is by far the biggest thing new players will have to get used to. On top of that, the maps tend to be designed around several paths to get to whatever the objective is, and the direction of the battle can change substantially depending on where engineers have positioned themselves, this makes for a hectic siege warfare mindset that is unmatched by most other shooters
“Don’t worry my fallen brother! I’ll build a sentry from your skull!”
A good team in TF2 is like a thriving organism, with each of the nine classes fulfilling both niche and general roles that help sustain and support the rest of their collective self. That being said, the balance in TF2 isn’t perfect, with some classes excelling depending on the map or the number of players in the game. However, in terms of overall team dynamics, Valve has done a good job in making sure that everyone is useful, and everyone is deadly in the right hands. The game features several game modes including, capture the intelligence, payload, payload race, capture point, king of the hill, and arena death match. These range from very familiar to particularly unique, with themes such as escorting a bomb into the enemy base and the standard capture the flag that we’re all familiar with. All modes are featured on several diverse maps and almost every map has a truly lovely attention to detail, not just in their art, but in the way certain game play and class mechanics interact with certain areas of the maps. The game also persistently keeps track of your stats and play time, allowing you to keep records of your best moments and attempt to one-up your past self.
One of the true strengths of TF2 is the post-launch content and support that has turned a standard online community into a rabid pack of hat wearing fanatics. Since release, TF2 has gained dozens upon dozens of new items for every class, new maps, new game modes, and an in game store in which players can spend real money to unlock or obtain items faster and with less in-game effort than players who don’t feel like paying. These features have expanded the game in nearly every possible direction. With the release of rare or difficult to obtain cosmetic items and game changing weapons and equipment, TF2 allows the player to very specifically tune their play style (and fashion style) with certain item sets and load outs.
Sandvich is very serious business. You can tell by the purple alien on his head.
The addition of these new features means more layers added to the game, even establishing an economic undertone to the trade and crafting of items. While this disappoints some players, others take heart in the diverse customization and extra personality. The free version of the game includes all the game play content paying customers get, with a few slight restrictions. Free players receive a smaller in game backpack in which to hold items and some of the rarer cosmetic items are off limits, however, this can be remedied by spending literally any amount of money in the in game store. All of these things come together to create a truly immense and insanely enjoyable multiplayer experience that not only should be, but is, owned by everyone. If you’ve been on the fence of whether or not to occupy your hard drive space with the now FREE Team Fortress 2, do it.
Team Fortress 2 is among the best games of the decade,
with it’s well tuned mechanics and highly memorable characters
offering literally endless hours of enjoyment. It only receives more
props for being entirely free.
Genre (First Person Shooter): 95
There are very few first person shooters that can contend with the sheer level of content and enjoyment to be had in Team Fortress 2, and the constant updates keep it very relevant even years after its release.