One week ago, the PC gaming publisher Valve released the beta for the eagerly-anticipated multiplayer game Team Fortress 2 on their Steam gaming client for everyone who pre-ordered The Orange Box (A combination package of Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2, as well as the original Half-Life 2, and Half-Life 2: Episode 1, for those just joining the story). As a faithful fan of the Half-Life series, I had pre-ordered The Orange Box (Pre-ordering through Steam also gets you a 10% discount), so I got a chance to test out the demo. Needless to say, I was blown away.
For those unfamiliar with the original Team Fortress game, now known as Team Fortress Classic, there are two teams: Red, and Blue. Both teams start on opposite sides of the map, and they have to capture the flag of the opposing team and return it to the specified point on their fortress.
There are many basic classes in Team Fortress, such as the Engineer, who builds teleporters, health and ammunition dispensers, and automatic gun sentries to stop the opposite team; the Soldier, armed with a rocket launcher which has a secondary function of helping him to “rocket jump” by shooting at his feet and jumping to help him soar to extraordinary heights; and the Spy, who can cloak himself to become invisible, disguise himself as a member of the opposing team, and backstab his enemies for an instant-kill.
Team Fortress 2 is a much-needed facelift on the game. The graphics are amazing; the game has a more cartoonish, cel-shaded look, but it’s not too cartoony as to turn off the more hardcore gamers. They’ve balanced the classes, and added some new features. The levels require a certain level of ingenuity that provides a fresh experience every time you play. As the days come closer to the release date, Valve is releasing short vignettes showing the different classes in Team Fortress 2. There’s still the Red team and the Blue team (Now called BLU), and each class has a distinct personality.
There are a few problems in the beta, obviously. Certain classes have abilities that are slightly overpowered, you can’t import sprays (small images you can upload to spray on walls and floors and such) directly, and there are the obvious bugs that need to be worked out. Valve has given players the opportunity to fix this with a very simple “Report Bug” feature, that lets you upload screenshots, give descriptions, and even upload full saved game logs to show what the problem is, and if you want, to suggest new features or changes. The Orange Box (Which contains Team Fortress 2) is released on October 10 on the X-Box 360 and PC, and on November 14 for the Playstation 3. If you pre-order now, you save 10%. I would recommend this game to those who enjoy simple multiplayer shoot-em-ups, fans of the original Team Fortress game, and hardcore gamers who want to see just how powerful they can get their graphics to be, and have a fun time while doing it.