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Team Fortress 2 - The Most Fun You'll Have Online
Valve’s Team Fortress 2, a multiplayer team-based first-person shooter that was released in 2007, and its’ by far one of my favorite games of all time. Since I bought it over a year ago, I have accumulated over 200 hours of gameplay and I expect that I’ll be spending a lot more time with it for years to come. You may be wondering what makes Team Fortress 2 so good. Well I have an answer to that which I’ll divide into several parts including its gameplay, its story, its graphics and sound, and its overall value.
Team Fortress 2’s gameplay is probably one of the most unique and creative out there when compared to other fps (first person shooter) games due to the game modes, maps, and playable classes that it offers. The main focus of the game is team work which is vital to a game’s outcome. Currently the game has 6 different game modes which require different team strategies to win. These modes are: capture the flag, control point, territorial control, payload, arena, and king of the hill.
• Capture The Flag
Collect and return the enemy’s intelligence briefcase, which is located deep inside their base, back to your team’s base.
• Control Point
This game mode is divided into 2 types:
- Standard Control Point
Both teams start out with an equal amount of control points that are evenly distributed across the map with a neutral point at the center. At the beginning of the game, both teams’ control points remain locked until the neutral point is captured. Once this happens, the next available control point is unlocked and made available for capture. This will continue to happen until one team is able to control all of the capture points. So let’s say that both the red team and the blue team fight for the neutral point and the red is able to capture it. This causes the blue team’s next capture point to become unlocked which then allows the red team to advance and push forward. This does not automatically mean doom for the blue team, however, since they can always push the red team back and capture the neutral point away from them.
- Attack and Defend
This is similar to the first mode in that control points need to be defended and captured. What is different though is that one team will attempt to capture all of the control points while the other team defends them. This means that when a control point is captured, it remains locked for the rest of the game. If the attacking team can capture all of the remaining control point in succession before the timer runs out, they will be declared victorious. If, however, the timer runs out and the attacking team was not able to capture all of the points, then the win goes to the defending team.
• Territorial Control
This game mode plays like a Control Point mode in that each team tries to control both parts of the map, each of which is controlled by one team. The team that is able to control both of the areas of the map is awarded the win for that round. On the final round when only one team’s home territory remains, the game plays out like an Attack and Defend round of Capture the Point. A team wins the game if they are able to capture the opposing team’s home territory.
The goal of this game mode is for one team to escort a cart full of explosives from one end of the map to the other. Along the way, the opposing team will be able to defend the map to try to prevent the cart from reaching its destination. In order for the cart to move at least 1 team member must stand right next to it. The more people that stand near it the faster it moves. If after a while, no team member is able to get near the cart, it will actually start to move backwards away from its target.
Arena mode focuses a lot more on the strengths and weaknesses of each class and how well they are able to perform in fast paced combat. This is essentially an all out gun fight in which there are no respawns which means that once a player is killed he/she won’t be able to come back until the next round. Whichever team has no players left loses the round.
• King of the Hill
This game mode gives a single control point in the entire map and in order to win, one team must be able to control it for 3 minutes.
One can see why a capture the flag game might rely more on fast moving units such as scouts to gather the intelligence while a payload match will require the help of units that are able to take more damage such as heavies and soldiers.
Each of these game modes are played on different maps, of which there are currently 39 (not including custom maps created by users). They vary in size depending on the game mode so Payload and Control Point maps, for example, are much larger than Capture the Flag maps. Every one of these maps is unique and offers multiple ways in which a team can attack or defend. They include features such as ledges, windows, choke points, bridges, tunnels, and water areas among other things.
• Control Point
• Capture The Flag
- Double Cross
• Territorial Control
• King of the Hill
• Payload Race
Team Fortress 2 gives players the ability to choose one of 9 classes to play with. These include scout, soldier, pyro, demoman, heavy, engineer, medic, sniper, and spy. Each class has its strengths and its weaknesses and their combat styles can be classified into offensive, defensive, and support. Because of this, it is good that teams have a balanced number of classes. Often times the server will put a limit cap on the number of players that can play with the same class to better achieve this balance. Each class is also given at least 3 weapons: a primary weapon, a secondary weapon, and a melee weapon.
The scout is the fastest class in the game and has the ability to double jump. This allows him to use hit and run tactics against enemy players very effectively. His default weapons are a scattergun as his primary which is able to deal huge amounts of damage close range, a handgun as his secondary, and a baseball bat as his melee.
The soldier is one of the easier classes to play with as he is very versatile and gives users different ways to play with him. He is one of the hardier classes and can be quite destructive against the enemy team. His default weapons include a rocket launcher which outputs a great deal of damage and allows him to reach high places through his “rocket jump”, a shotgun, and a shovel.
Beneath his mask, one can’t be sure who (or what) the pyro is. Through his manipulation of fire, the pyro can burn through enemies rather quickly if he is not stopped. Once an enemy is caught on fire they will continue to take damage for a while until they are put out or are able to find a way to heal in time. The pyro can also play a key part in defending against enemy spies which is known as “spy checking”. This is due to their flamethrower’s ability to find invisible spies that are lurking by and burn through their disguise. This can be especially useful to friendly engineers who can get their equipment sapped by spies. The pyro’s primary flamethrower weapon is also able to extinguish friendly players that have been caught on fire by other enemy pyros through its compression air blast. In addition, the pyro carries a shotgun and an axe as its secondary and melee weapons.
The demoman is an expert when it comes to explosives. He is able to take out entire enemy defenses with just several shots of his weapons. The demoman is good at defending control points or intelligence briefcases through his use of mines which can be placed and detonated at his will. He can also be good at breaking through choke points and his attacks can be quite unpredictable. He carries a grenade launcher as his primary weapon as well as a sticky bomb (aka – a mine) launcher, and a bottle.
While he might be the slowest class in the game, this hulking man can sure pack a punch. The heavy carries his trusty chain gun which outputs extreme amounts of damage close range which can mow down enemy players within a matter of seconds. He has the greatest amount of health which allows him to take quite a beating before he is taken down. His weapons include a minigun, a shotgun, and his own fists.
The engineer is perhaps the most defensive out of all the classes through the use of his inventions. When placed in strategic locations, the engineer’s sentry gun can be used effectively in defending and controlling critical areas of a map such as choke points and control points. His dispenser can be an invaluable asset to his team as it provides them with health and ammunition. He is also able to help mobilize his team with his teleporters which can be used to take his allies from their base all the way across the map to where the action is. This allows the team to reinforce the battlefield quickly without having to travel large distances. The engineer carries with him a shotgun as his primary weapon, a pistol as his secondary weapon, a wrench as his melee weapon (which is also used to upgrade and repair his equipment), and a build tool which is what allows the engineer to build his gear.
This man of medicine uses his skills in the battlefield to aid wounded allies in recovering lost health through his medigun. Every time he uses it, an UberCharge meter bar will begin to fill. This usually takes a while but can be sped up whenever the medic heals those that have taken more damage. Also, if the medic dies, his UberChage meter will be reset. Once it reaches 100%, however, he along with whoever he has his medigun trained on can become invulnerable to all damage for a short amount of time. This ability gives the team a window of opportunity which can allow the medic along with a heavy or a demoman, for example, to break through the toughest enemy defenses and achieve victory. In addition to his medigun, the medic also carries a syringe gun, and a bonesaw.
Using his long range attacks as his advantage, the sniper usually prefers to stay behind his team while he picks off enemies. The sniper’s rifle is able to shoot across the entire length of a map as he eliminates enemies that are giving his team a hard time such as medics or other enemy snipers. His rifle deals a great amount of damage when aimed correctly and it can instantly kill the enemy if he lands a headshot. In addition, he also carries a submachine gun and a machete with him.
The spy is probably the trickiest class in the game both in terms of how he is played and in terms of his abilities. He is able to effectively infiltrate an enemy base while being either invisible or disguised. Once inside, he can unleash chaos among the enemy team. A spy can also be classified as a saboteur as he can bring apart an engineer’s entire setup with the use of a few sappers that will render his equipment useless and damage it until it’s destroyed or the sapper removed. Because of this, an unchecked spy can create hell for engineers. His backstab and sidestab ability also makes him a deadly foe as he can take out players with a swing of his arm. In addition to becoming invisible, the spy can also take on the appearance of any player on the map (both friendly and unfriendly) which creates even more confusion for those facing him. The spy has a revolver as his primary weapon, an electro sapper as his secondary, a knife as his melee weapon, an invisibility watch and a disguise kit.
Even though classes are classified into these 3 categories, the truth of the matter is that players can choose to play however they want. They can experiment with a class in ways that are not limited by its categorization. Engineers, for example, do not always have to guard the base. They can be used offensively by creating forward sentries and dispensers as their team pushes into the enemy base. This versatility allows for players with different opportunities to approach the objective with any given class which adds to the fun and madness of the game.
Unlike other fps games that usually follow a storyline, Team Fortress 2 does not really have a continuous storyline per se. Instead it is composed of several short stories in the form of comics, and “Meet the…[class name]” videos which help to build some depth and background into each of the characters. New comics and videos are usually released by Valves near the time when the game will go through a content update (the latest being The Engineer Update on 07/08/10). In this updates there is sometimes a comic that goes along with it which explains the history behind certain classes as well as the ongoing feud between the red and the blue teams of the game. The videos also give a bit more of a bibliographical sense to each character as it sometimes explains their origin as well as the reason that they choose to fight. Furthermore it gives players a lot of entertainment and a sense of familiarity with each of the classes.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics of this game show influences of early to mid 19th century styled illustrations and buildings. The maps are very detailed and it looks like a lot of effort was put into it by Valve’s art and design departments to make them as true to the game as possible. Many maps will offer settings and locations reflective of barns, and old west towns on one end and silos, missile sites, and secret, underground, military bases on the other which give the game a western/cold war era type feeling. Because of its use of Phong Shading, the game’s graphics have a cartoonish appearance which some people do not have a liking for but which I believe fit in really well with the game’s style.
Team Fortress 2 Theme Song
The sounds in this game are all unique. Every weapon and item has a unique sound which distinguishes them from each other. Team Fortress 2 also has some of the best and most entertaining voice acting that I have seen in a game. Every class has its own unique phrases that you will hear at certain points such as when you get a kill, get killed by someone else, defend a point, etc…which often times make you laugh in agreement. Some examples of these are:
Spy: “I never really was on your side.”
Sniper: “Thanks for standing still, wanker!”
Demoman: “Oh, they're going to have to glue you back together - in hell!”
Scout: “If you order now, I'll throw in a second beatin' absolutely free”
Soldier: “Last one alive, lock the door!”
Pyro: “Mpphhh mphh mphhhh mphhh mhh!” (no joke)
Heavy: “What sick man sends babies to fight me?”
Medic: “Everyone! I am on fire!”
Engineer: “Spy sappin' my sentry!”
Valve has also created several music tracks that play on the main menu which consist of a combination between jazz, rock, and the blues.
Since its release 3 years ago, Valve has been constantly updating and maintaining this game. With each major update comes a variety of new weapons, maps, and other features which makes the game all the more fun and exciting for all players. What’s unique about these updates is that Valve sets up the atmosphere around 1-2 weeks before it releases it in the form of a story that explains or hints at the new changes that the patch will offer. This gets the gamer community excited and makes them wonder what could be in store once the update is released.
As a way to add all the more fun and excitement, Valve also released a series of 364 achievements (as of 7/19/2010) that players can earn while playing the game. Achievements are special recognitions that can be earned if one manages to accomplish certain tasks while playing. They are also a way to test one’s ability and at times they will provide certain rewards such as enable new item drops. Some examples of this are:
Mater of Disguise: Trick an opposing Medic into healing you.
Robin Hood: Take down an intelligence carrier with a single arrow.
Build To Last: Help a single building tank over 2000 damage without being destroyed.
Valve’s approach to the fps genre through Team Fortress 2 has been a success. Its exciting gameplay, unique classes and maps, and relaxed and laid back atmosphere make this a great game for anyone who is looking to have fun online. With its huge player base, hundreds of active servers and constant content updates, Team Fortress 2 will have plenty to offer in the years to come.