Matchbook: Team Fortress 2

NOTE- This article was written by my good buddy David Baginski for the site when Blogger was hosting it.

To be honest, I’ve had a hard time thinking about what I could say about this game that hasn’t already been said. Team Fortress 2 has a huge following, has reached above and beyond meme status, and has it’s own Wiki. I highly recommend looking up the TF2 wiki and reading a bit about the different characters/roles and about the game play.

There are two teams of combatants made up from a mixture of the following roles: Soldier (who’s pretty tough and carries a rocket launcher), Scout (the fastest moving of all the roles), Pyro (burns everything with a flamethrower), Engineer (builds health/ammo dispensers and turrets), Medic (heals teammates), Spy (turns invisible and disguises as the enemy), Sniper (kills you from far,far, away), Heavy (slow moving tank with a minigun), Demoman ( grenade launcher and explosions galore!)
Using the awesome power of teamwork (hopefully), your team accomplishes a set goal depending on the style of play you’ve selected. The three main types of play are Capture the Flag, Control Points (holding key points on the map), and the Cart Push (which is one team pushing a bomb across the map and the other team trying to stop them).

What’s awesome about this game isn’t that it’s free, or that the first person shooter style of online multi-player is intense and addictive, or that it’s beautifully rendered in a Norman Rockwell meets Dexter’s Laboratory way, it’s that the focus is on teamwork. Team it’s right there in the name of the game, and without it, without that teamwork you’ll fail again and again. The characters you can choose from all have very specific strengths and weaknesses which cause them to rely on each other for support. This built in “buddy system” makes you care about these funny cartoon bad-asses and their friends. The most obvious match-up is the Heavy and Medic characters.

By knowing what the different strengths and weaknesses of the roles are, you can place yourself in a position that covers the weakness of another player and your own at the same time. The classic pairing of the Medic and Heavy that I mentioned for example, has the Medic watching the slow moving Heavy’s back for spies while healing his injuries. In exchange, the Medic gets front row seats to the gun show. With a Medic behind him, the Heavy is a near unkillable walking mountain of death, and is more than capable of defending his little Medic friend.

Much like Chess, the pieces (or players in this case) are used as a part of a strategy and are ultimately expendable as long as the main goal is reached. Killing, while it is part of the game, is not the main focus. Even while playing on team RED and defending capture points or keeping BLU from pushing the cart, it’s about running out the clock and preventing them from achieving their goal. I played a “Push the Cart” game on team RED as an Engineer and got three guys on team BLU to chase after me for thirty seconds while I ran way from the cart. Yeah, they killed the Hell out of me, but I kept three players from doing anything useful for thirty seconds and RED won when time ran out.

Yes, there will be plenty of times that you’ll play this game and your team won’t work together, or they’ll all run off to kill the other team when they should be pushing the cart, or whatever. It happens. It’s not easy to get a group of people to work together, but when it happens it’s fantastic. There will be times when all you want to do is shoot the other team, but then you’ll see that your team is all Heavys and Soldiers crying out for a Medic. You run out there and start saving lives as the battle turns in your teams favor. Hell, that may have been the final push you needed to win the game, and it’s all thanks to you pal. Congratulations, you’ve been named MVP just by showing up.

I’ve included a replay of me playing a Pyro during a Point Capture match. That flare gun I keep using isn’t standard equipment, but it’s one of the first unlockable items you’ll get for the Pyro.

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