The Rise, Reign and Fall of Team Fortress 2

Hyper - - CONTENTS - by Steven Bo­gos

The year was 2007, and the Half-Life fran­chise had yet to be­come a run­ning joke. Half-Life 2: Episode 2 had just hit the shelves as part of The Orange Box, which the vast ma­jor­ity of us bought just to play the next (fi­nal?) chap­ter of the Half-Life saga. Lit­tle did we know that Episode 2 would ac­tu­ally end up be­ing the least in­flu­en­tial game of the bun­dle.

The other two games in­cluded in The Orange Box were of course Por­tal, which man­aged to meme its way into the hearts of ev­ery­one on the in­ter­net (some­thing some­thing cake is a lie hur hur), and Team Fortress 2, which rev­o­lu­tionised the world of mul­ti­player shoot­ers.

Be­fore TF2, shooter de­vel­op­ers had this ob­ses­sion with gritty re­al­ism. It sort of started with Counter-Strike, but was so­lid­i­fied with Call of Duty 4 and Bat­tle­field 2. Long gone were the wacky, mile-a-minute frag fests of Quake and Un­real Tour­na­ment, re­placed in­stead with slow, te­dious, “re­al­is­tic” com­bat. Guns killed in one or two hits. The colour palette was brown, grey, and a slightly darker shade of grey. Char­ac­ters moved slowly, re­gen­er­ated health, and spent a lot of time ly­ing prone in the grass.

TF2 blew all of that out of the wa­ter. I re­mem­ber the first time I played it, and I was just com­pletely blown away by how fun and dif­fer­ent it was. Ev­ery class was like play­ing a new game, and the bal­ance was just sublime. The bright colours and hi­lar­i­ous char­ac­ters seemed like they were out of some su­per-vi­o­lent al­ter­nate-uni­verse Pixar movie. Health and ammo packs were back, and fire­fights lasted longer than 0.5 sec­onds, with rock­ets and grenades and bul­lets fly­ing all around you in ev­ery di­rec­tion at all times. It was may­hem, and it was glo­ri­ous.

The game quickly be­came a LAN party favourite and some­thing my friends and I would spend hours and hours play­ing. It was such a huge breath of fresh air in a genre that had be­come stale, and the in­flu­ence it had on the in­dus­try is un­ques­tion­able. Just look at Over­watch for a quick case-in-point.

Un­for­tu­nately, at some point Team Fortress 2 did lose its way, at least in this writer’s opin­ion. One of the sad­dest mo­ments of my life was when I booted up the game to write this fea­ture, af­ter a very lengthy hia­tus. I dis­cov­ered that Team Fortress 2 had be­come no more than a ve­hi­cle for cos­metic un­locks. The del­i­cate bal­ance the game main­tained for years had been shat­tered by the ad­di­tion of hun­dreds of new items, in­clud­ing a sword and shield for a class that tra­di­tion­ally used ex­plo­sives as their main form of dam­age. Team Fortress 2 used to be a game that any­one would jump into and quickly un­der­stand, but now it’s just a huge con­fus­ing mess.

Do your­self a fa­vor. If you loved Team Fortress 2 when it first came out, don’t go back and play it now. Re­mem­ber it for the in­dus­try-chang­ing game that it was, not the life­less husk it is to­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.