YES. Valve released TF2 for free last week and I got around to trying it out on Monday. It’s pretty cool. The 6GB download took all day but it was worth it.

I used to play Team Fortress Classic YEARS ago. I played it a lot. I remember some screenshots of a development version of TF2 from around that time, it was done in the HL1 engine and looked nothing like it does now, and I was really excited by it, because, at the time, online gaming via the ancient 56K modem was a kind of magical alternate reality full of two dimensional explosions and people making crude remarks about your mother. But then I stopped playing it because of, you know, Counter-Strike. So I’ll admit I was never amazingly enthusiastic about TF2 by the time it eventually showed up because it seemed like something I’d already done and got over.

I WAS WRONG. I could go on about it for hours and explain the minute sections of the game, but I’ll cut all that out and just say it’s fun. Very fun. Hilarious fun. Light hearted, silly, and nonsensical fun. Unlike TF or TFC, which were supposedly serious war games (well, so they thought), it has camp pseudo-60s evil genius feel to it which is absolutely endearing. Even my sister is playing it and she has never played a multiplayer FPS before.

It’s also quite newbie friendly. There are a lot of classes but you don’t have to choose a very active one to begin with. The best beginner class is probably medic, you run around like crazy trying to heal people and don’t worry too much about attacking anyone. The strongest class is heavy, he is very powerful but very slow and draws a lot of fire, so if you find one, stick to him and keep him healed. Once your medic gun charges up (bottom right), you can make someone invincible by right clicking while your beam is on them (and keeping it on them). Again, unless there’s an emergency, you should wait for a heavy near the front line then ubercharge him and hope he rushes in and kills ALL THE THINGS. You get credit if someone kills when you’re healing them (kill assist) so it’s all good. If all else fails, ignore the needle gun whose needles are too slow moving to be useful most of the time, instead get out your melee weapon and go insane. I have found that most people don’t prepare for the case of a medic rushing at them with a bonesaw. Unfortunately, some do.

The downside is that Steam is annoying and there are soooooooo many updates for TF2. I trust that adding extra letters makes up for the missing “that” statement. I only downloaded it on Monday and I swear it’s had to download updates no fewer than four times since then. Also the item system is clearly a Skinner box; you get items which can alter your loadout for each class (different guns, melee weapons, hats…), and you can either buy the items, or get them randomly as you play. Obviously, the upshot of this is that people probably feel compelled to play past the point of fun in the hope of getting a new item soon. Games shouldn’t do this. It is evil.

The free version has some slight limitations in terms of what items you can get and how many you can hold (50 instead of 300, I think). To upgrade to the premium version it costs £4 (that’s because Steam won’t let you put any less into a ‘steam wallet’, and then you need to buy an item from the shop. The cheapest is currently £0.29. So you can spend the other £3.71 on some indie game or something). I upgraded my account because the game is worth £0.29 or £4, however you look at it.


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