Team Fortress 2 was a long time coming – 9 years, in fact, if you believe developer Gabe Newell. However long it’s been, it was too long. Now that it’s here, however, I can happily say that it was worth the wait. For once, people, believe the hype: Team Fortress 2 rocks.

Team Fortress 2When we last saw TF2, it was being relegated to vaporware status, along with Prey (a game that I’ve sadly never been able to review for this site). Designed to look like an old war movie, it sported realistic player models, vehicles and a WW2-era setting. It looked good for it’s time, but after a few years it disappeared from sight. Not much later, Battlefield 1942 came out and revolutionized the genre. Soon, everyone was releasing team-based shooters with lots of players and vehicles. If TF2 had come out then, as it was, it likely would have been swamped by the sea of clones.

Oh, how times change. When Valve re-revealed TF2 a year or two ago, it sported a cartoony look that severely contrasted with it’s previous design. I akin it to when Miyamoto revealed Zelda: The Wind Waker to the public. There was a sensation of shock and interest that swept the fan base. Now that it’s here, I can say for sure that Valve knew what the hell they were doing. TF2 sports one of the most unique and stylish looks that I’ve ever seen. I can’t say enough about the character models, maps, and animations to do them justice. They’re that good. The classes have character, something that almost every other shooter lacks. You recognize them across the map, and they stand out up close. Don’t think this is a kiddie shooter, though, since it’s just as easy as anywhere else to blow your opponent into little bloody chunks. Cartoon carnage is always a good thing.
The gameplay is solid as a rock. The classes all play very, very differently and they compliment each other well. You need a good balance to have any chance of winning in this game. Fortunately, the online community generally understands this and you don’t get the lone-wolves as much as in many other games. I’ll relate a few of my stories as examples.

Team Fortress 2In one round, I single handedly protected our intel (on 2Fort, my favorite map) as an engineer, but we were being similarly beaten back in the red base. I switched to the solider class and, as luck would have it, a medic spawned near me. We charged into the red base as a spearhead and took out a large chunk of their defense. We managed to clear out a turret that was causing the bottleneck, and within a minute or two we scored twice. That’s teamwork, and it’s usually common in TF2. In another round, I was running as a pyro and doing decent but I noticed that all of our players kept calling for medics. I checked our team makeup, and sure enough there were none. I ran back to our base, changed to the medic class, and helped a scout and spy enter the enemy base to get the intel. I insisted one of them get the intel so I could keep healing them. Once we had the briefcase it was a matter of getting it back. I’d gotten my ‘ubercharge’ primed a while ago so when we entered our base’s stair room to find four enemies (a demo man, heavy, solider and medic), I set off my ubercharge to make myself and the spy with the intel temporally immortal to get through and score.

Team Fortress 2 is prime for storytelling, and really needs a video capturing feature so you can go back and re-live your best moments. That’s probably the worst thing I can say about it, too, other then the oft-sited lack of maps. Six is nice, but it’d been better to have more. Still, it’s not enough of a problem to make me pause for even a second. Team Fortress 2 is team-based multiplayer bliss. If you even remotely like the genre, and especially if you still have a soft spot for the Team Fortress of old, I whole-heartedly recommend this to you. Alphasim out.