|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Valve||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Valve/Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 9, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|(TOB: Oct. 9, 2007)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Players: 1-24 (Online)||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Team Fortress 2 has it all - and less. In the past, it was available as a package deal as a part of The Orange Box, a collection that featured Half-Life 2 Episode One and Portal. You can now get your hands on Team Fortress 2 without any extra games attached. All games can be purchased and downloaded individually online through Steam.
Team Fortress 2 is loaded with action. It's diverse, fun, challenging, and offers plenty of strategy and depth without bogging down the gameplay. What is really fascinating about the game is how the developers were able to take what is essentially an unsociable first-person shooter and turn it into a frag fest. The interaction among characters is dynamic, as each of the various classes has distinct abilities and weapons that are invaluable to the team as a whole. There are so many ways to exploit these unique abilities that each match is different every time. Not to mention that when the opposition changes things up, the game dynamics are kicked into overdrive.
The average server will accommodate 24 players. That's a dozen on each team. There are nine classes to choose from: Soldier, medic, engineer, scout, sniper, heavy artillery, spy, pyro, and demoman.
Sporting different attributes, the classes can be combined with relative ease to great effect. Each has different health attributes and moving speeds. The scouts are the fastest and most agile, being able to double jump and pull an about-face in midair. As you might guess, the heavy artillery operator is the slowest, but carries the biggest stick, so to speak. The different classes don't come with a bloated inventory. You know exactly what they carry and what they are capable of using to their best advantage. This allows you to make instant decisions in your head as to where they can be put to best use, like pawns in a game of chess. Aside from the principal weapon, each character will possess a secondary weapon such as a shotgun or pistol, in addition to melee weapons such as a bat or a saw.
All of the classes are integral for the challenges that lie ahead. Engineers can develop plans to exploit or attack various structures that may act as chokepoints. They will also guard your own important structures such as bridges. Medics heal the wounded, and even have the ability to super-charge team members. They can send a spray of health to teammates within a certain range to help them heal on the battlefield. A medic can also employ a feature that grants him and his patient immunity for a few moments. This can be especially useful to get past heavily infested areas. Spies can get behind enemy lines and sabotage the enemy's plans or kill them stealthily by donning the enemy's uniform. Snipers are the most feared of the classes, from the enemy's perspective, as they lay hidden, picking off members one by one. Once you get shot, the respawing of your character seems to take forever, giving you more time to fuel your anger for the sniper. It's a very important class to be sure, but I find it kind of boring just lying in wait when others are running around shooting, ducking, and blowing things up.
There are only a half-dozen maps, but don't let that fool you. As I already mentioned, every game is different, so you don't have to rely on the maps to keep things interesting. I could spend weeks on one map alone. They are nicely detailed, and even though they are rendered in a highly stylized cartoon fashion, they seem realistic and consistent within the context of the premise. There isn't a lot of wasted space, which continuously churns the action, but doesn't force it. In fact there are several different paths that can be used to enter and exit a specific point. This results in less obvious chokepoints, so one team can't position snipers and a bevy of turrets at the only chokepoint.