Team Fortress 2 - Now free to play
September 7, 2011: Team Fortress 2 is a team-based multiplayer first person shooter video game produced by Valve on the online Steam platform for distribution. It was originally released in 2007 as part of the Orange Box compilation, but is now free to play, which has caused quite a bit of hype and a lot of new players joining. Overall it's a blast, and I'll walk through the highlights and low points of the game.
There are three categories of classes: Offense, Defense and Support. Offense includes the Scout, Soldier and Pyro; Defense includes the Demoman (think grenades, and lots of them), the Heavy (machine-gun toting Russian) and the Engineer; the three Support classes include the Medic, Sniper and Spy. Each class has their own strength, as well as weaknesses.
Classes Good Bad Best moments
Scout (Offense) Speed & agility, double jump high into the air Low health Can be crazy fun running circles around opponents
Soldier (Offense) Powerful rockets, rocket jump into the air Reload times on rocket after 4 shots, a bit slow Blasting enemies into smithereens
Pyro (Offense) Flamethrower covers a lot of area, air blast is good defense Range on flamethrower is limited Roasting multiple enemies in a row after sneaking up on them
Demoman (Defense) Spamming grenades, sticky bomb-jumping into the area, wielding a sword and shield Going through grenades quickly and frequently reloading Seeing enemies blown apart during the kill cam
Heavy (Defense) Carrying an enormous machine gun, highest health of all classes Very slow speed, and gun spin-up times Eating a "sandvich", and the awesome Russian accent
Engineer (Defense) Setting up machine gun sentries, healing dispensers, and teleporters making the whole team efficient Set up time for devices, Spies can easily sap devices, weak offense aside from sentries Can single handedly turn the tide of the game on defense with sentries, or on offense with teleporters
Medic (Support) Healing is a good thing! Has some offensive weapons, but playing Medic for extended periods of time on purely healing can be repetitive Uber-healing a Heavy while mowing through opponents like a John Deere through dried-out summer grass
Sniper (Support) Taking head shots at enemies long distance away, has a great bow weapon Low health, slow reload times Sniping opponents from a long distance
Spy (Support) Disguising as opponent, invisibility, sapping Engineer's devices Low health, invisibility goes quickly Is an adrenaline rush back-stabbing opponents anytime
The team play aspect to TF2 is critical to winning, as it is RED (Reliable Excavation & Demolition) versus BLU (Builders League United). The two teams duke it out in objective-based competition, i.e. instead of just jumping in to take each other out, the focus is on example having the BLU offensive team push a bomb-laden cart on train tracks into the opposing RED team's base to blow it up, while RED in turn tries to prevent it. Another major aspect to success in team play is having a good balance of classes on the team.
The fun factor is huge for TF2. The graphics are refreshingly original, however the cartoon-like style might throw off new players. I quickly adapted and enjoyed the appearance, especially as on the standard setting, the game can be graphic with people being blown up. The sound effects are great, and each of the classes has well developed characters and funny sayings.
Overall, the replay value is high. With such large differences in the classes requiring time invested to understand the purposes, strengths and weaknesses of the different classes, it will have a very long replay value. As well including the various achievements that Valve offers for each classes, it guarantees a long shelf life. Steam offers frequent updates and offers new maps in development. There are of course areas of improvement for the game. Maps can take a long time to load, especially when the maps are customized. Once loaded however, lag time is generally not a problem. Another item that might irk original TF2 players might be the now free to play status, which like any other game that moved to F2P, has resulted in a large influx of new players that are new to the game. Generally however, players are friendly and welcoming of new gamers.
Overall, I highly recommend checking out TF2 if you like FPS (first person shooters). The combination of interesting classes, teamwork being critical and fun graphics and gameplay make this one a winner.