Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Game Reviews: Team Fortress 2 (PC)
From the creators of Half Life comes a unique first person shooter. As it came out around 4 years ago, chances are, you've already played it. But if you happen to be a bit on the fence for this game, let me help. This game was in development for around 9 years. Not as much as Duke Nukem Forever, but not as hyped either. One thing to note is that grenades have been removed, being present in Team Fortress Classic and earlier versions of Team Fortress. I'm going to depart from TFC though, and judge this game on its own. Thanks to free updates from Valve, TF2 is full of great content, and limitless possibilities. There's the standard Capture the Flag mode like in many first person shooters, Control Point mode, where teams must capture areas to win the game, Arena mode, a deathmatch type of gamemode where each player only has one life, Medieval Mode, a control point game where classes are limited to using their melee weapons, along with some other weapons like a bow and arrow for the Sniper class, King of the Hill mode, and a few others. Speaking of which, let me talk about the classes, cause the variety in the classes is also a big part of the game.
There's the Scout, a quick class whose top priority is to capture the flag and capture points, armed with shotguns, pistols, drinks, and bats. The Soldier, the main assault class, armed with rocket launchers, shotguns, team-supporting backpacks, a shovel, a katana, and pickax. The Pyro, an offensive, but also supportive class that excels at close range combat, armed with flamethrowers, a shotgun, a flare gun, and axes. One thing to note about the Pyro is his airblast technique, which can reflect certain projectiles, extinguish teammates, and blow enemies away. The Demoman specializes in defense, armed with his grenade launchers, stickybomb launchers, shield, and swords. The Heavy is a real powerhouse, also great at defending with his miniguns, shotgun, food, and fists. The Engineer can support his teammates with teleporters, dispensers that give out ammo and health, and sentries, which block off certain areas. He can also manually control his sentry, and is armed with shotguns, a pistol, and several wrenches which help repair his machines. The Medic heals his teammates, and he is armed with syringe guns, healing devices, and various saws. The Sniper is a supportive class, mainly used for picking off important targets like Medics. He's got his rifle, a bow and arrow for when he needs to be offensive, an SMG, shields, a jar of pee that coats enemies and makes them take more damage, and all sorts of stabbing doohickeys. Lastly, there is the Spy, the most unique class in TF2. Like the Sniper, he can pick off important targets, but he can also neutralize an Engineer's buildings with his sapper, and fill the enemy team with paranoia. He is armed with several revolvers, his sapper, and various knives. Oh, and don't forget his disguise kit and cloaking watch.
Gameplay is fast-paced, to say the least. Expect to die a lot. But don't get discouraged! In fact, I consider TF2 one of those games where dying often isn't really a burden. I believe it's cause TF2 players aren't nearly as competitive as those who play something like Call of Duty. Anyway, teamwork is a big part of this game. Half of "teamwork" is in the game's title! You're gonna need teamwork to win in any gamemode. If you and a teammate have low health, but his is lower, give him the health pack. If your team is dying often, consider switching to Medic. Switch classes depending on what your team needs to do. Want to support your team while maintaining a strong offense? Try Pyro. Wanna mow down the enemy team and protect your base? Take up Heavy, Demoman or Engineer. The different weapons the classes have also change up their playstyle. A Sniper with his normal loadout may be fit for sniping, but his bow and arrow, the Huntsman, needs to travel to its target, so it's not really that good for sniping. The Huntsman forces a Sniper to be more offensive. Even with the Sniper's low health, he can still help out this way, and with his jar of pee, the Jarate, he'll be really beneficial to his team. But say you're dying a lot cause of his low health. Then use the Dangershield! It boosts the Sniper's health from 125 to 150! That just may keep you alive long enough to get that final push on the control point and win the game! See what I mean? That's just a few different possibilities in Team Fortress 2, there are tons more!
Phew, that was a lot of text. Now then, if I haven't bored you yet, let's move on. With all those weapons and classes to play with, you're set! Well, not right off the bat...But fear not! You can unlock most of these weapons by doing achievements! If you stink, you could always cheat and get achievements with friends...But you can also find items! Including hats!
Now you may be wondering, "Hats? What?". Well, hats are just rare items you can find, or craft items together in order to obtain. They are pretty rare, so they are considered valuable among the TF2 community. If you're getting a bit bored from the normal gameplay, you can always turn to hats. Speaking of which, crafting certain items together will grant you metal. Once you have crafted a certain amount of metal, then you can craft some hats. Hats in my opinion, aren't too great, but they definitely give you something to do. It's rewarding getting a hat you desire because of their rarity. If you're a fan of trading in MMORPGs or something of the like, you will probably enjoy trading items to get the hats you desire for your classes.
Something else I'd like to mention are server mods. There are little touches to a server, like rolling a virtual die in order to get power ups, that add to the game as well. It may not make the game as competitive, but it could make it more fun! Consider trying out unofficial server mods like "Roll the Dice" servers, or "Zombie Fortress" for an even more awesome gameplay experience.
Last thing I want to touch on is the presentation of the game. I love the art style. The phong shading really adds to the models in terms of eye candy, and I didn't realize how much I was missing out when I played this game on my old crappy computer on DirectX 8. The characters are full of personality. Unlike other modern first person shooters like, again, Call of Duty, I feel that the characters are very creative and unique, as opposed to a determined, monotonous soldier. The Scout is a wise-cracking kid, the Soldier is a crazed war fanatic, the Pyro is a mysterious, seemingly psychotic individual who cannot be understood, the Demoman is a drunken wretch, the Heavy is a tough, giant Russian who speaks in broken English, the Engineer is a soft spoken Texan, the Medic is a doctor fascinated with causing pain to others, the Sniper is a witty Australian whose parents are disappointed in him, and the Spy is a classy, snooty Frenchman. The voice acting is also very well-done, providing the personality of the characters through their clever one-liners. I feel that the uniqueness of this game scares others away. Many people aren't used to this style of cartoony and violent. Therefore, they prefer more "epic" or "cool" games. Overall, I think this game is amazing. Even after a year or so of playing it I haven't really gotten tired of it, and with its constant, and even more amazing, FREE updates, Valve has truly made a masterpiece. It's games like this that show that having a campaign mode isn't necessary.