Hands On With the Team Fortress 2 Beta
Prepare yourselves, ye who purchase The Orange Box, for you may just purchase your next gaming addiction. How do I know this? Because I spent two hours playing the Team Fortress 2 beta last night, even after I initially said to myself, “Man, I should really get to bed.” Thank God for coffee. Yes, Team Fortress 2 is really that much fun and that easy to jump into. I never really played the first Team Fortress, so I can’t really say how it stacks up. But trust me when I say that this game will be a joy for any fan of online first-person shooters.
The graphics lend the overall game a comical feel, which fits well with the crazy gameplay. It’s kind of like watching a Pixar version of Saving Private Ryan. You see a lot of cartoon characters running around, but then there’s also blood and gore. A couple times, I’d see one of my teammates die while waiting to respawn, and the camera would follow their freshly decapitated head as it bounced across the landscape.
I wondered how the different characters’ personalities would factor into the gameplay — especially considering the trailers highlighting them — and they seem to add to the overall feel of the game. I spent the most time playing as the Heavy class, a big, gruff, RUssian with a minigun, and found myself getting into the character; even typing out “For mother Russia!” in chat after killing a few people. Besides which, your standard responses are all tailored to whichever character you’re playing at the time.
The different classes are almost perfectly balanced, as they all can play their part in a battle and provide support to their teammates. The Heavy and Medic classes work particularly well together, with one laying down a barrage of fire while the other constantly heals him. The Medic can also power up his “ubercharge” and render one of his teammates and himself invulnerable for a short time. Each class though, no matter how powerful at times, can also be taken out easily by another. Several times, I’d kill about four or five enemies with the Heavy’s minigun before a Spy would sneak around and knife me in the back.
Luckily, scoring in the game is not solely based on who gets a kill. If you damage a foe and then someone else gets the final shot, you both get points for it. Same goes for supporting your teammates, like if a Medic heals someone who then goes off and kills an enemy. I spent a whole match as an Engineer and was the score leader even though I never fired a shot myself; I let the sentry gun take care of that, and got points from teammates using a teleporter I set up. This is really nice, because it forces players to work together, which is hard to make happen in a lot of other team-based multiplayer games. You pretty much need at least one Medic and one Engineer doing their jobs to even have a hope of winning the match.
It’s the little things though that make this game just plain fun to play though. Like how celebratory music plays when you get revenge on an enemy who killed you before. Or how the game will zoom in and freeze frame on whoever killed you, so you start to develop small rivalries in a match. For a beta too, the game seems pretty complete. After each match, people seemed to always chime in with, “This is a beta?” Seriously, if you’re already planning on getting The Orange Box on PC, you might as well get it now. Then you can save 10% off the retail price and start playing this excellent game.