Inside the Team Fortress 2 beta

By Louise Yang . September 26, 2007 . 10:22am


I was one of those people who scoffed when I found out Valve was planning on making Team Fortress 2.  Back when Team Fortress 2 was just a bunch of ideas and TFC servers were almost always full, news was that Valve wanted to make the game more serious.  That got me worried because one of the charms of Team Fortress Classic was that it was fun in its ridiculousness — conc jumping, rocket jumping, and my favorite, the unbelievable damage one little EMP grenade could cause were all silly but worked in making the game popular.  When word was that grenades would be gone altogether from Team Fortress 2, I couldn't believe it and declared that Valve had stripped all fun from their future game entirely.


Now, more than seven years after Team Fortress Classic, Team Fortress 2 is finally upon us and I reluctantly downloaded the beta to give it a shot.  I don't regret it one bit.  I can even now forgive Valve for screwing up TFC by updating it into Team Fortress 1.5.


I was incredulous about the first screenshots and trailers of TF2. There was no way that could be in-game footage; it looked like something from a Pixar movie.  Well folks, it's all true. The game looks exactly like that and it actually runs decently on my lower end machine. Color me pleasantly surprised.  The little details of TF2 like papers falling out of a briefcase that's being nabbed, a spy's mannerisms, the little kick the scouts do when they make a double-jump all put a smile on my face.


I was skeptical about the gameplay especially without grenades, but after only a few minutes, I was a believer.  Team Fortress Classic was always a little spammy and I accepted and loved that. The lack of nades in TF2 not only improved the gameplay and forced people to actually use their weapons for a change, but it encouraged teamplay.  Instead of spamming a sentry gun with grenades, players now had to coordinate with each other to send a decoy in while another person shot at the sentry gun, or ask a sniper to take it out from long range, or barrage it with an ubercharged heavy weapons guy and medic.


Valve definitely worked their magic in Team Fortress 2 because even in public games, the teamplay is much better than I expect.  Perhaps it's the fact that there are definite support classes that need the partnership of a better offense class in order to succeed.  For example a medic on its own is pretty harmless since his syringe gun does such little damage and a heavy weapons guy is slow against a scout. But pair the medic up with the heavy weapons guy and he becomes a formidable foe.


Like the player models, maps have also gotten a nifty graphical overhaul. 2fort now looks like a farm, but the best thing is that the map layout is practically the same as the old 2fort.  The same goes for Dustbowl, except it has a different theme than a far. This is a nice nod to veteran TFC players who memorized ever nook and cranny of their favorite maps.


I was one of the biggest skeptics of the greatness of TF2 but now after staying up nightly until 2 in the morning playing on public servers, I retract anything bad I've ever said about it.  I don't say this about many games, but I'm afraid of getting addicted to TF2.

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