Friday, August 27, 2010

Traxman's Game Review: Team Fortress 2

This was a review I did of Team Fortress 2 a few years back, its not spell or grammar checked, so it's basically a draft.

Team Fortress 2 is a multiplayer team-class based first person shooter by the developer Valve softerware using the Source engine, TF2 has been in development since 2002 now and has changed drastically over the development period, the game originally started as a mod for Quake called “Fortress forever”, than became a independent game called Team Fortress classic, and now the third (or second) installment is finally here. Using the source engine Valve is once again able to produce Fast action fluent game play with so much variety, from the different classes, game maps, mods, and thanks to Valve’s constant new updates new things are always coming out such as maps maps, mods, and the every-expanding arsenal for the nine different classes. 
The game play in TF2 is very unique compared to other FPS because of the class based system the game play depends on what class you play, if you are used to games like Quake and Unreal, you will be more used to playing the scout, who is the fastest class in the game but has low health, if you like sniping and love snapping off those headshots and you would of course play the sniper. Everything in the game is very balanced from maps to classes, even down to the different weapons, winning in TF2 depends on team work and the right balance of different classes in a team, NOT SKILL, classes like sniper and spy do require practice but most classes you can jump into and have just as much fun as the people who has been playing for a long time, this is particularly important in attracting new players and players who aren’t familiar to the FPS genre. This is a game that you can defiantly play over and over, because of the variety and the balance, if you get sick of one class, just go and play another one, and if you’re sick of all the classes, play a different game mode, which requires different strategies and it will seem like a new game. This game to most hardcore FPS fans will seem more like a “casual” game at first, because a game like this would not have a large competitive market as to other FPS, to play a good game of TF2 will need at least 5-10 players on each team because of how much a class depends on the other, and because of the you cannot play games like 1 on 1 versus in a small map, most maps in TF2 are huge, however there are sill plety of tournaments out there for the competitive gamer . Now with that said this game is still as hardcore as a FPS can get at times, there is still the rush you get then you sink that backstab into an enemy as a spy, or the jump that you get when you get that critical headshot on the medic who is about to use a √úbercharge. 
Game play: 8/10 (because of the lack of competitiveness for most of the classes)

The graphics are very unique, there is no other game out there with graphics like this, unlike other traditional methods, they actually start with the lighting effects on the characters first before adding on the material effects on the body, this of course gives a very cartoon like look to the characters, an additional layer of reflective lighting is added on top of everything, and it’s that lighting that makes the graphics unique to other games. Although everything looks like cartoon with the lighting you can recognize the different materials on the weapons, clothing and environment, like when you walk into the sun playing as a heavy the light reflects off the heavy’s minigun perfectly so that you’ll clearly recognize it as the black gun metal even if it does look like cartoon, the same goes for other materials such as, wood, plastics, etc, these effects wouldn’t be as noticeable in other game with the realistic look but in TF2 it makes everything look very unique and almost eye catching. I think that it’s these graphics that sets it apart from other high-end games like Crisis or Call of duty 4 which pursue photo-realistic graphics, it’s good to see something that’s different, and also the graphics in TF2 is very comforting in a way, the graphics is kind of relaxing in a way, when playing COD4 or CS etc the graphics are very sharp and everything is tense, but in TF2 everything is kind of relaxed, things that don’t really make sense, weird shapes of all the different objects and structures, when you play you get this nice feeling, sometimes I can be a spectator in a game for hours and just watch other people play. Overall I think it’s the spectacular light effects that makes the graphics so good, how the light bounces off the different objects like how they are supposed to. But the technical side of the graphics isn’t all that good, often when you walk right up to a wall or object things are usually quite pixilated and jagged. 
Graphics: 8/10
Design/style: 10/10

The character design in this game is also very unique, everything has humor, all the classes have their own distinct personalities and they all come from different backgrounds and countries, and all the characters are hilarious, from yelling out when they are on fire to the comments they make when on a kill-streak. Because communication is so vital in this game, there are plenty of both player controlled and automatic dialogs, and you can recognize which class is calling out from their different styles of voice, like calling out when on fire, or calling for a medic, this is most important for a medic because he can asses who to attend to, if he hears a sniper calling it wouldn’t matter too much because he is away from the front line, but if it’s a scout on fire he will need to attend to it quickly because scouts have little health and the fire consumes a lot of HP quickly. Valve with TF2 has also released kind of a advertising series called “Meet the team” it’s an Machinima series made by Valve for each of the classes, it introduces us to the classes in a kind of interview situation and tells us about their personality etc. The newest one, “Meet the Spy” came out a few months back with the release of the new “Sniper vs. Spy” patch it shows us what the spy does and tells about his style of fighting, this one is quite different from the other “Meet the Team” videos because this one is very serious compared to the other Stereotypical toilet humor filled videos of the other ones. Every video is hilarious and very interesting, from the always drunk, Scottish Demoman to the Assassin from Australia the Sniper who’s always arguing with his dad about how much money he makes and how he is not a serial killer. TF2 is set in a war between two corporations the Reliable Excavation & Demolition (RED), or the Builders League United (BLU), who are meant to secretly control every government on Earth, and the missions range from obtaining intelligence to destroying valuable points, There is no particular setting for this game and thing do get a bit confusing at times, but there really is no need to understand the plot.
Characters: 9/10
Setting/Plot: 3/10

Valve has really treated the game well since it came out with constant updates, and bug fixes, the most recent update, the “Sniper Vs. Spy Update” featured 3 new maps and a new game mode, also with lots of new things for the loadouts of the Sniper and the Spy like the new Bow and the backstab shield for the Sniper, and the 2 new watches and a new pistol for the spy, it also included hats for the different classes, something which wasn’t in the game before. Steam also has a full time TF2 play test room with a team who pretty much play TF2 full time to look for bugs, glitches, and also how they can improve the game, there is a system in game which record how much you play each class and also your best scores, form most headshots as a sniper to most healed as a medic and sends them to valve, even down to things like where most people die on a map, which side wins the most on a map/mod, and all these stats can be viewed on the TF2 website. This way Valve knows what to update, which class need to be improved so more people play it, etc. Steam also has a in-game bug reporting system, if you find a bug or glitch, you can take a screenshot of it, add the description for it, and send it straight to Valve all without pausing or quitting the game. All this is very good for everyone that play the game because new thing are constantly coming out, bugs are constantly being fixed, and this keeps the community playing, lots of games has lost most of their player because of the developers inability to support the game or add new content, most people don’t realize this but the support of a game can be very vital. 
Support: 10/10
Updates (new stuff): 10/10
Community: 10/10

The classes in this game is what really makes it unique, other games with class-based systems are all pretty much the same with different weapons, and maybe one or 2 has different abilities, but all the classes in TF2 is all very different, there is almost no way of comparing them, they are extremely unique. The Scout is the fastest class in the game, he also has a small hit-box, but he also has the lowest health in the game, but this doesn’t stop him from taking on and killing the huge, minigun wielding, damage dealing Heavy who also has more than half the health of the Scout, the Scout double jump and change direction in mid-air to dodge anything coming at him. The Soldier, is almost as slow as the heavy, his primary weapon is a rocket launcher, he doesn’t do all the much damage because one rocket only does about as much as the Scouts shotgun, but that doesn’t stop him from being one of the most point scoring class in the game. The Pyro, one of the fastest classes in the game, using his flame thrower, he is capable of killing a fully healed heavy in a matter of about 3 seconds, but he has low health and the flamethrower only does damage within 1.5 meters of the target. The Demoman, uses his grenade launcher and sticky bomb launcher, which both fires in arcs, the grenade launchers grenades explodes on impact with a person, or explodes in about 3 seconds of being fired, the sticky grenades sticks to walls and the ground and explodes at the will of the Demoman, both weapons deal massive damage, but he doesn’t have any fast projectile weapons which makes him almost useless at close encounters. The Heavy, the biggest class in the game, has a huge hit-box, also has double the health of most of the other classes, he uses a minigun which does heaps of damage, but everything that the heavy does is slow, the slowest runner, the minigun needs about 2 seconds to spin before bring able to fire, and when the gun is spinning his movement is even more impaired. The Engineer, one of the more unique classes in the game, he has as much health as a Scout, as slow as a Demoman, but he can build lots of useful things for the team, his sentry gun when upgraded to level 3 is the most damage dealing weapon in the game, and will kill everyone that comes in range, doesn’t matter how big or fats you are, he can build teleports and gets his team mates to the front line faster, and dispensers to heal his team mates and give them ammo. The Medic is one of the most important classes, his medi-gun is everyone’s best friend, he can heal people and even buff them to 150% of their health, and whenever he heals he gets “√úbercharge” and once that reaches 100% he can use it on someone making them invulnerable for a short period of time, every team needs a medic or they lose the game. The sniper is quite self-explanatory, he has a sniper rifle which does critical damage with headshots, the gun also charges up and does more damage the longer you stay zoomed in. The Spy is one of the most unique classes in the game, probably in all FPS, he has a watch that turns clocks him for a period of time, he can disguise himself as the other team, and he has a sapper which can disable and destroy the enemies engineer buildings, and his backstabs are instant kill, the spy requires lots of strategy and is the hardest class to play. 
Overall Team fortress 2 is a fantastic game, from game play, to graphics to the funny stereotypical nature of the classes, Valve has really outdone themselves with TF2. TF2 can be bought as a part of “The Orange Box” which is great value, it includes Half life 2, Half life 2: Episode 1, Half life 2: Episode 2, Portal and Team fortress 2, all for $100, it can also be bought as a standalone game for about $50, but the best way to get it is through steam using digital distribution, I got mine Orange box on steam for about $25AUD when it was on sale.

Team Fortress 2: 9.5/10

Thursday, August 26, 2010