Saturday, December 27, 2008

Team Fortress 2

I've had quite a time with Team Fortress 2. Admittedly, I was not even going to buy this game. The Orange Box really did not get me very excited upon it's release about a year ago. However, like most Valve games, word of mouth got to me and I bought The Orange Box. Now I buy all Valve games before they even come out. I now have complete confidence in the team at Valve.

This isn't a review of the Orange Box, though. I have not even finished Half Life 2. I really should. Anyway, I am here to review its multiplayer component: Team Fortress 2. The game came out a year ago and consequently, every game critic has reviewed it to their heart’s desire. So what do I have to say that’s any different?

Time is that answer, I believe. I have had time to really play the game with the community. One of the greatest experiences I had had with video games came in early April of 2008, where everyday for about a month I could not wait for school to finish so I could go home and play on the PC Gamer server. That also entailed waiting for sometimes half an hour to get in the server. But the same people played almost every night and it was a tremendous amount of fun. That experience is one that I feel gives me special credibility in reviewing this game.


My Rank back in May 2008

Shawn Elliot, an old editor for Games for Windows Magazine, has often wondered what the point of reviews are. My impression is that they are someone’s opinion to whether or not it is a worthy purchase. In few words: yes. In many words: yes yes yes yes yes. Especially when they are giving it away for ten dollars every so often, and when it is not on sale, it is only twenty bucks. My advise is : if your computer can run it, you like shooters and you have the internet, buy this game.

I wrote a paper not too long ago that postulated the question: “what is more important, form or content?”. This applies to everything, including video games. So I will start out with form.

Graphics. Team Fortress 2 is built from the source engine, which was made for Half Life 2. The team over at Valve has made one spectacular engine. The graphics are cell shaded but everyone moves like real people. In each map, every different section has a different art design so the player never gets lost. In two sided maps, like 2fort or Well, each base is uniquely colored, either red or blue. Most importantly, the nature of graphics help us suspend reality. We forget to question why the soldier has flames on his feet after he jumps using a bazooka. Or how the medic can shoot health out of a gun. The game also runs extremely well, coasting at about 60FPS on 1680x1050.


Cartoony Graphics help this game a lot

Sound. Sound plays a very crucial role in this game. Because Team Fortress is so stylized, the combat is such that it often takes 10 seconds of constant shooting to kill someone. So, the element of surprise is not needed and quality headphones are not needed. However, Valve put a lot of time into the audio for this game and it shows. The audio helps tell us what is going on just around the corner. The player’s character also shout taunts after kills and these taunts help a lot with immersion into the game.


Each class has a distinctive look

Now, for the real fun part of the game, the content. The game shipped with six maps but now has eighteen maps that span across five game types, Control Point, Capture the Flag, Territory Control, Payload and Arena. Each game type is so different it is like changing games almost. Almost every map is brilliant. Valve, as numbers indicate, has released a lot of content over the past year. The new maps outshine the older Hydro and Granary. I had forgot Granary so completely that I had to look it up online. The game type Payload and arena were not originally not shipped with the game. Yet Payload is my favorite game type. It involves pushing a cart, filled with explosives to a checkpoint and the round usually ends with a large explosion.


Goldrush, a Payload Map

The game also features nine classes. Three offensive classes: Scout, Soldier and Pyro. Three defensive classes: Demoman, Heavy and Engineer. Lastly, three support classes, Medic, Sniper and Spy. Each class is very different in almost every way, including height, speed, apparel, voice acting, health and weapons. Changing classes is like changing games. The type of play style difference between engineer and soldier is immense. The medic plays nothing like the spy and the scout is a complete opposite of a heavy. Valve has succeeded in differentiating each class enough that the game seems to change when you change.


This is clearly the Red base…….

Team Fortress 2 does have flaws though, I suppose. If you are looking for a story, this is not the place for you. This also is not the place for people looking for realism. Feet on fire and invisible people do not exactly scream modern warfare. The learning curve here is fairly steep as well. It takes a while for a new player to learn who does what and how well. Despite those small flaws, Team Fortress 2 is my favorite shooter of 2007 and 2008. Call of Duty 4 was very good, but does not seem to capture the magic of Team Fortress 2’s game play or community.

Final Score:

ten of ten score


  • Excellent Graphics
  • Sheer depth of content
  • Stellar Community and Updates


  • No back story
  • Rough Learning Curve

Ed Note: This is only for the PC version of the Game. I have and will not play the xbox version. It only supports a maximum of eight players a side adding up to a total of sixteen. This is not enough, in my mind, to make a good team, therefore ruining the team experience.

It’s a puzzler

Okay, So I kinda dropped off the face of the writing earth recently. I’m not sure why, but I haven’t really been in the mood to write. What is really perplexing me is that fact that writing reviews is what has really given me writer’s block. I can’t make myself sit down at write them. Right now, I’ve been telling myself I need to review Team Fortress 2. But what can I say that others have not already said? What makes me different than any other person with an opinion? That is what has been my main hurdle. And also,


how can you put a simple number on a complex opinion?



Sunday, December 07, 2008

Change is a Comin’

I feel it right around the bend. Except to see reviews.

Now Playing

Dance Gavin Dance - Downtown Battle Mountain - The Backwards Pumpkin Song

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Earn That Content

With Call of Duty, the more and more I play it, the more and more I realize how brilliant of a game it is. I'm level 52 right now. And I am playing it to play the game and experience it. Achievements have infiltrated every game that I own, so I've resorted to one of the games where they don't matter. Well, challenges give you silencers, ACOG scopes and red dot sights. And leveling up gives you new weapons. So what am I talking about?

Call of Duty 4 is a prime example of having to earn your content. I'm actually still on the fence on whether I like it or not. Earning your content, I mean. I know for sure that I like Call of duty 4. How would the game change if everyone had every gun at the beginning of the multiplayer game? Cod4 is not nearly as time consuming as WoW in terms of earning your content. Anyone who spends any time playing it gets the guns fast enough. You decide what guns you advance and what guns you leave alone. I really do applaud Infinity Ward for their balance of all the guns. From what I think of now, most guns are viable killing machines. No gun is extremely over-powered, but I do think some are under-powered. Although, if the player is good, usually he can do well with any gun.

Speaking of earning content, I'm plugging along in WoW. I finished all the quests in Howling Fjord, but now I'm not really looking forward Borean Tundra. I've heard from numerous people that the Fjord is better. But I'll stop talking about WoW. That's why I have a WoW blog, right?

LAN. December 13th-14th. I plan to have a good time and not have a seizure. Unlike last LAN. I plan to play Team Fortress 2, Call of Duty 4, Left 4 Dead, Trackmania Nations and Warcraft 3. I would be totally down to play some Company of Heroes. But we will see how the cards fall.

Today I also updated and patched Worms, so now I can play it online. Talk about a game with no achievements and only playing it for the fun of the game. I wish they made it for mac, because for whatever reason, Worms seems to belong on a laptop. I'm not sure why I feel that way. Wow, just think of it, playing Worms during class. I'd really get nothing done.


Lets see if this works.

Just a Test, but more to come

I was just fooling around today on the interwebs, when I stumbled across my old Windows Live Space. I was exploring around and found that Windows Live has a blog writer. I’ve been looking for a program to blog on for the longest time. Now, my only question is,


“Do they make it for Mac?”

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Death of Desktop Gaming

The Media has its crazes. When it sinks it's teeth into an idea or a story, it never lets go. The Death of PC Gaming is one of those ideas that it will not let alone. For the past two or three years, we've been continuously assaulted by the idea that PC Gaming is going to die. I really really doubt that. Too many people are devoted PC Gamers and it is too good of a platform to fall by the wayside. But one thing that I think we may see the death of is the desktop computer.

Now I am a PC Gamer. I was a late convert, but once I saw the light, I accepted the true way of PC Gaming. The platform is so much more flexible and powerful than consoles and most games are more fun to play with a mouse and keyboard, with the exception of racing games and Gears of War. But that's why they make Xbox 360 controllers connect with a USB port. I built my computer from scratch, buying most my parts from Newegg about a year ago. I won my case from a LAN party but this last friday I went and picked up a replacement case. This lead me to thinking: who really has a desktop computer nowadays? My mom just bought a new laptop, my dad uses a laptop and most my friends only have laptops. The only people who have desktops are my gamer friends. People don't want to spend the money on a monitor, keyboard, mouse and computer. They want it all set up for them with something that is easy to use. And laptops are that answer.

Laptops are easy to setup, take down and transport. My desktop certainly is large and I had to debate what to do with it when I went home from college over these holidays. It would have been thousands of times easier to just fold my laptop and put it in a case and take it on the train. But as it was, I bought a box and packed it all up. The box was heavy and large and would have been extremely inconvenient if I did not have a car.

I don't know if I will ever buy a gaming laptop. The keyboard in front of the screen kills the immersion for me and I don't think they make 22 inch laptops. I also like my desktop too much. It's large, noisy and bright. But that is part of the allure of it. I am expecting to get a new video card for Christmas and part of the fun of the gift is the fact that I am going to have to put it in. One thing that laptops can not do easily is upgrade. It is possible to do but the technical know-how required is not something that your average consumer has. This argument of upgradability is largely moot, however, for in all practicality, you do not need to upgrade to play any new games for at least 2 years. And that is enough time to save up to buy a new laptop.

This leads me to my final point. I think that PC Gaming will be around forever. There is a hard core fan base for it and I do not see that going away. What I do see is the death of desktop computers. The only people who will continue to buy and furnish desktops are hobbyists. I am a hobbyist and I fully expect to continue to build computers all my life. This minimization of the market might lead to a slow down in the development of the technology for desktop computers and I really hope that Western Digital, nVidia, ATI, Intel, AMD and all other companies really do see the potential profits in continuing to humor us and make us hardware.

  1. Left 4 Dead
  2. WoW
  3. Cod4