April 13, 2007 - After playing four maps and testing out all nine classes in Team Fortress 2, it seems this game should be another of this year's entertaining arena shooters. It comes as part of the Orange and Black Box packages, which both contain Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and the first-person puzzler Portal. Like any team shooter hoping for longevity in the online space, the game needs an emphasis on teamwork. Valve seems to be on the right track in this department, with many of the classes complementing each other in specific, effective ways. Instead of being able to select a game mode and map separately, Team Fortress 2 fuses them together, meaning when you pick a map, you're also picking a mode. 2Fort, the most prominent map from Team Fortress Classic (TFC), will feature capture the flag, whereas the remaining five will have variations of control point capture modes.
Valve is fully intent on supporting this game after release. Valve Engineer Robin Walker told us, "As with any Valve product, you're guaranteed stuff will come out. We have people here working on content already." The extra content should be maps and "gameplay stuff," according to Valve's Marketing Director Doug Lombardi. As for price, Valve says it will all be free. "We have no plans to do booster packs for ten dollars," says Lombardi. Walker went on to add, "We've never charged for any extra content...We want people to be glad to be a customer of Valve."
For the console versions, no clan or tournament support will be included. Valve isn't ready to announce the ability to set up dedicated servers on consoles, but it is being considered. "We did that for CounterStrike on Xbox one," says Lombardi, "so I think we'll probably do that on the 360 at least. On PS3, I don't want to speak for the EA guys." [EA UK is handling the PS3 version]
Team Fortress 2's nine classes play quite differently, from the languid running speed and explosive firepower of the Heavy class to the stinging strikes of the nimble Scout. It's difficult to tell exactly how useful a class will be after release, since there will undoubtedly be numerous player-created strategies bubbling towards popularity that may exclude widespread use of certain types. The game's modes and maps seem to at least encourage the use of different classes, since objectives frequently change and sections of maps favor certain skills.
Pyro, Scout, Heavy, Sniper, Spy, Engineer, Demoman, Soldier, and Medic make up the nine classes. Each has their own movement speed, which is important since there's no sprint function in this game. After picking the blue or red team, classes can be selected before a match begins and switched between over the course of a round. Each team's spawn room contains an equipment closet which restocks your ammo and item supply while standing in front of it.
Picking Heavy gives you a minigun, shotgun, and fists to attack with. When heading into an area your team knows to be heavy fortified with enemies, these should be the first guys through the door. Each class has different health amounts, and Heavy weighs in with the most. Still, by themselves, they can go down quickly with several people firing grenades, rockets, and bullets their way.
On any map, the ideal assault seems to be a Medic paired with a Heavy. Medics carry a health hose that blasts regenerative energy forward at any teammate. As long as you keep the fire button depressed, the beam will stick on whoever's targeted, and even bend around corners. Using the hose, Medics can boost teammates' health up to 150 percent which, as long as you're restoring health, builds a gauge at the bottom right of the screen. A special invulnerable attack can be triggered once the gauge fills, which renders both the target and Medic impervious to enemy attacks. With two Heavies and two Medics trigging the invulnerable ability simultaneously and charging into an enemy base, the unstoppable bullet spray is enough to mow down any opposition, at least until the ability wears off. As a Medic, the game makes it easy to see who needs health by popping up a large cross icon whenever your cursor hovers over a teammate. The amount of the cross filled indicates the target's health status, allowing you to quickly tell whose hosing needs are most urgent. For melee, Valve gave the Medic a bonesaw. Along with the Scout's aluminum baseball bat, there's a near irresistible urge to forego your class's primary responsibility and try to slash or beat someone to death, just for fun.
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