Cue the music!
(Hey, that means you! Click the picture!)
Seeing as we’re in a new year and possibly a new gaming generation, I figured now is a good time to look back on what games from the last few years really defied my expectations. Either because they went above and beyond what I was expecting of them or because they were horrible letdowns that made me feel stupid for buying them. Today’s surprise is Team Fortress 2, probably the only Valve game that I think is genuinely great. (Or thought was great.)
So they say every cloud has a silver lining. Wait, does anyone actually say that? I just typed it. I’ve seen other people mention it, but I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone in real life to use that saying. What does it even mean? A cloud is blocking out the sun so there’s a section of of the clouds that’s lit up, like a silver lining? Well what good does that do me? I guess it reminds me the sun is there, but it doesn’t seem like a “silver lining” is really all that great.
Well whatever, Portal was a disappointment, and Half-Life 2 didn’t do anything for me but I did find something I liked in the Orange Box, and that was Team Fortress 2. I normally don’t like online shooters. I’ve always been a sore loser, so ultra-competitive fast paced shooting games have always been a bad fit for me. But for some reason, I loved playing Team Fortress 2. I tried it just because I wanted to get all the achievements in the Orange Box, then I kept playing it for few hundred hours after that.
The class dynamic and the limited availability of one hit kill attacks made TF2 a lot easier to get into than a lot of other FPS’s I played. The different classes create for a kind of rock, paper, scissor situation where there’s no one dominant playstyle and the lack of reliable one hit kills means you should be able to survive long enough to actually attempt something. Even my little sister, who never plays shooters, loved playing Team Fortress 2. By online FPS standards, it’s incredibly accessible…or it was.
Then this happened…
Ugh. Leave it to Valve to go and muck up their one game I actually liked. I thought one of the great things about Team Fortress 2 was its simplicity. Things like Call of Duty have so many perks and weapons and modifications that it feels overwhelming to a casual FPS gamer such as myself. In TF2 each class has a set of weapons and abilities and how well you use them is up to you. There’s no levels or experience points, it’s just about how creative you can be with the tools you’re given.
But I guess Valve had a different idea in mind. At first it started pretty simple. They were adding a second set of weapons (and stupid achievements) as well as a new map with a new objective. And already I felt they were wrecking a masterpiece. Since I’ve stopped playing they’ve apparently added a bunch more weapons, hats, armor, hats, more hats. And then they started charging for this shit, including stuff that gives you a gameplay advantage, which means people who are careless enough with their disposable income can just buy their way to victory.
I’m really starting to think Valve doesn’t make games so much as tech demos. Everything they’ve released over the last few years feels more like experiments than finished projects. And all though some of them are interesting experiments, Valve never really follows through on them to any kind of meaningful end. Except with Team Fortress 2. Unfortunately in this case the demo was actually already a great game and the finished version resembles a shooter version of Farmville.
Luckily the XBOX 360 version is still un-updated, so it still plays by the original rules. It’s like Team Fortress Classic. Well not Team Fortress Classic, that’s the predecessor to Team Fortress 2 and I hear it’s quite a bit different, it’s more like Team Fortress 2 Classic. I hear the reason TF2 didn’t get updated on the 360 is because apparently Microsoft resents the idea of free content of any kind on the XBOX Live Marketplace. Microsoft’s greedy polices actually helped to shield one version of Team Fortress 2 from Valve’s own greedy polices. How ironic.
There is at least one Team Fortress 2 untouched by the hattening!
But I’m still glad I got to play Team Fortress 2. Easily the most fun I’ve ever had with an online shooter. I remember once my sister and I were playing 2Fort. She was an engineer and I was a demoman defending the corridor she set-up a turret near. And there was this one not so bright scout who kept trying to charge in. After I blew him up about a dozen times without dying, he finally lands a lucky few shots and kills me.
After I respawned, I walked across the battlements and fired a few grenades at the enemy fort, just for the hell of it. As I crossed back into my fort I saw the kill tag that I said I just apparently killed the same scout who had just killed me. Yeah, after dying nearly a dozen times to finally kill me, I accidentally revenge killed him with a lucky grenade hurled in his team’s general direction. Good times.