Do you know what is the biggest torment of a game editor when he has on his hands a very good title? The effort to stop playing for just enough time so that he can actually write the article in which he praises the game. This review should have been posted on the website some time ago, but Team Fortress 2 managed to hook me like very few games have managed to do. The thought that an entire day could pass by without me playing TF2 for at least an hour or two was unbearable. Eventually, my Steam account password had to be changed in order to convince me to start writing. Bastards.
I have to mention from the beginning that I played neither the first Team Fortress nor Team Fortress Classic, so my perspective on its successor is the one of a genuine n00bian™. A little embarrassing since Team Fortress put class into class-based games. What’s interesting is that Team Fortress 2 should have been a game with a very serious military feel, unlike the product that we now have before us. The time it took to be completed (almost 9 years) easily competes with the one of the (still) infamous Duke Nukem Forever. But the outcome of this process was beyond any expectations.
If I were to name two key elements that make Team Fortress 2 one of the best games ever released, it would be humour and accessibility. You thought I was going to say revolutionary gameplay and spectacular graphics didn’t you? Come on, be honest, nowadays how many of you appreciate a game’s ability to put a smile on your face? Now it’s all pixel shaders and high-res textures bitc… er, baby.
The first thing you’ll notice when you first make contact with Team Fortress 2 is the original graphic style: stylish, with a strong cartoonish feel to it, lots of shading effects and characters that bring to mind the heroes from The Incredibles. In fact, the way in which these characters were created will be one of the reasons of your always playing with a smile on your face, even when your head is blown off by a bullet coming from the other side of the map. In addition, there are delicious ironies for the enemies, desperate cries for help and the Kodak moments, when you are fighting an enemy soldier and an engineer, chased by a Pyro with a gas mask on his face and an axe in his hands, speeds right by you. Priceless.
But, barring the LOL factor, the cartoonish TF2 style has an even more important function that of giving you a basic indication on the role of each class and the possibility to identify them instantly in a fight. One of the problems of the class-based titles is precisely that: the learning curve is too long. You have to go slow, trying to see exactly what each class does, which are its special abilities, if they suit your gaming style or not, etc. But in TF2, even a novice knows who does what right from the initial selection menu, and you even get some tips to make your life easier; all this presented as a school lesson. The same goes for all three game modes – Control Point, Capture the Flag and Territorial Control. This way of presenting things, even if it can be considered by some too “moron” oriented, is going to be one of the game’s main advatanges in the long run.