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Post-Mortem Monday: Team Fortress 2 + Updates

Post-Mortem Monday is a segment dedicated to reviewing games post-release and viewing how they've evolved with extra additions like downloadable content (DLC), updates, fan support, and the like. The reviews are graded on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being perfection, 6 being average, and 3 and below being terrible. A score is given to each review subject, which includes Playability, Value, and Content. At the end, the Overall score is given, which is the Score to which the game's post-mortem achievements are measured. Suggestions for future segments can be made in your comments.

On the first segment of Post-Mortem Monday, I'd like to talk about Team Fortress 2, a class-based multiplayer game developed by Valve for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. Team Fortress 2, or TF2, was in a bit of development hell ever since the original, a mod based on the original Half-Life engine, was released. The original Team Fortress featured a similar class system, with class-specific grenades and the like, and was a huge hit (and continues to be). So when the sequel seemed to disappear off of the face of the earth after being announced in late 1999, many had feared that it would never come out. However, with news of The Orange Box, a compilation of every Half-Life 2 episode along with two unannounced projects, many found new hope. However, what was shown was something people weren't expecting: Team Fortress 2 with a whole new art style and grenade-less classes. The other project was of course Portal, which has become a bit of a phenomenon itself. The Orange Box was released on October 10th, 2007 to universal critical acclaim; it was declared by many organizations, including IGN, to be the greatest deal in videogame history.

However, enough of the history lesson; let's talk about the Team Fortress 2 of today.

For example, the Engineer is the most vital class for any team, both offense and defense. He sets up ammo and health dispensing Dispensers (Great name; quick, concise, to-the-point), Machine-gun and rocket-firing Sentry Guns, and Teleporter Entrances and Exits that act as quick travel for those seeking to get into the action faster. On defense, the most important thing for him to do is set up a Sentry Gun to defend the capture point, Intelligence, of general area that needs defending. If he fails to do this and keep the sentry up with repairs, the defensive team will struggle. On offense, it is paramount that after a fair amount of distance is covered by your team and the battle reaches a front far away from the spawn point that the Engineer set up a teleporter. This is to keep the amount of players attacking at once high so that pressure builds on the defense. If each team member had to walk the entire way to the battle, the offense would struggle. The Engineer also has obvious ally and rival classes. The Engineer's best ally is the Pyro, who will keep the Engineer's rival class, the enemy Spy, from destroying the Sentry Gun with the Spy's Electro-sappers, which make the Sentry Gun inactive and will eventually destroy them if the Engineer fails to do anything about them. This is just one of the many deep class strategies and class relationship each class has, each with their own nuances that make them fun to play.


After almost 2 years, Team Fortress 2 has become the epitome of the class-based multiplayer game. The updates for the game are numerous, fun, and best of all, free. Valve has raised the bar when it comes to post-release support for a videogame, with new maps, class weapons, game modes, gameplay tweaks, and even comical video content all being given out and continuing to be given out, and all at the unbeatable price of $0.00. In fact, now the game itself has only risen in value since release, yet dropped in price; you can now buy the stand-alone game both retail and online on Steam for $19.99. When it comes whether or not the game has appreciated in value or depreciated, the answer is incredibly obvious; the game has appreciated in value in a way that few other multiplayer games have ever accomplished or even dared to. Valve has come through for Team Fortress 2 and it's community and has done it in spades.


As said earlier, Team Fortress 2 has had numerous updates given to it that have given new maps, class weapons, and gameplay modes. However, this content has been limited to only the PC; to date, the Xbox 360 version has a planned release of every class update and map pack that is available for the PC release. As for the PS3, with Valve's attitude toward Sony's console, I wouldn't count on it. However, the content released for the PC version is astounding in both the quality and quantity. When released, the biggest complaint about Team Fortress 2 was the lack of maps, to which only one game mode was bound to. For example, 2Fort is designed specifically for Capture the Intelligence, so while perfectly designed for that mode, it only plays Capture the Intelligence; no other mode can be played on it. However, with the help of various updates, the map count has skyrocketed, with many becoming new capstones which many servers use. New maps include Hydro, Pipeline, Sawmill, Egypt, etc.

Along with new maps have come new game modes, each either being a variant on one of the old modes or a completely new mode. New modes include Arena, a deathmatch variant where death means you are out for the rest of the round, much like in Gears of War. The mode is one of the less popular, as many find the no respawn to be incredibly debilitating and the emphasis on combat being a little off from the usual team based objectives. Territorial Control has only one map, Hydro, where Red and Blu duke it out over two control points, with the winner of the round gaining control of that territory. The team wins the match when every territory is taken over. The lack of any other map is disappointing, but the fact that the entire map is separated into different territories means that each round is basically a new map, so it's not as big of a problem as one may think. However, the main problem with the mode is how long it can last; taking control of a territory means that the round ends and starts in the new territory, so if the round is won by the opposite team, you are thrust back into the previous map. This means that teams can stalemate over the same two maps over and over again, causing many matches to fatigue over time. Payload race also only has one map; Pipeline, to which there are two variants. Each team pushes their own cart simultaneously, creating an extremely intense double-offensive scenario which rewards brute force over defensive manuevers. The game mode is frantic, fast-paced, and loads of fun, if a little off-kilter from the usual attack-defend rationale of the rest of the game. The final mode is King of the Hill, which was just recently released. The game mode plays out exactly as you'd think; there is a single capture point, which both teams much capture and defend against the rival team. The first team to defend the point for three minutes is the victor. It plays like it sounds and is just as fun as it sounds, so it's another great addition.

Finally, and most importantly, there are the class updates, which give the classes new weapons which change the way each class is played. Currently, the Medic, Pyro, Heavy, Scout, Sniper, and Spy have received new weapons, with the Engineer getting a mini-update, which adds the ability to upgrade Dispensers and Teleporters to Levels 2 and 3. Each class received weapons that don't make them better, but instead give alternate ways to play the class. For example, recently the Sniper received the Huntsman, a bow and arrow that is to be used closer than the Sniper Rifle. However, its not very effective at long ranges, because the arrows actually travel through the air and can be dodged by opponents if given enough time. This does not make it better or worse than the Sniper Rifle, but instead gives the Sniper a different advantage; the ability to get closer to the action. Most new weapons work like this, such as the Spy's Ambassador, which is a new revolver weapon. It does much less damage than the revolver, however it has the ability to do critical hits on headshots, giving it an advantage and a disadvantage to the regular Revolver. However, not all the weapons are balanced in this way. For example, the new Flamethrower for the Pyro, the Backburner, allows for 100% of flames that burn the back of an opponent to be criticals. However, it takes away the Compression Blast, which as described earlier, is the most important aspect for a Defensive Pyro. Also, this opens up the scenario in which a Pyro acts as a purely offensive class, which many experienced players will tell you is unnecessary and ineffective; since the bulk of offensive is straight ahead, and the Backburner does less damage than the Flamethrower when it comes to frontal flame bursts, it becomes ineffective on both offense and defense in comparison to the Flamethrower. However, for the most part, the weapons add something to gameplay which is refreshing and exciting to play.

The updates also include gameplay tweaks, such as adjusting damage done by new weapons and recharge times on Spy cloaking devices. These tweaks cause lots of controversy, and sometimes unbalance the game a bit. For example, the last update changed the Scout's weapon the Force of Nature, which does less damage than the normal "Scattergun" but gives a set knock back distance when someone is shot by it. The previous update raised the damage done by the Force of Nature by 10%, as to stimulate it's usage by players. However, this created scenarios where scouts became an incredibly dominate class to most players and a greater threat than Scouts are specifically designed to be on offensive and defense. Valve responded to this in the last update by not lessening the damage, which was not the actual source of the problem, but attacking the knockback, which in addition to the extra damage threw the balancing out of proportion. They made it distance dependent, so the farther away from the target the Scout is, the less of a knockback is given, and vice-versa. This not only has brought the number of Scouts played on servers back to normal levels, but has made the Force of Nature a balanced weapon in the arsenal for the first time. Also included in updates are collectible hats, which are found randomly while playing. The one complaint there is for them is how incredibly difficult they are to find; every hour of play, you have a .05% chance of finding one, which is ludicrously low. However, they do not effect gameplay, so it can be forgiven.


Team Fortress 2 has only gotten better with time and will predictably get better if the last updates are any sign. Valve has gone above and beyond for its community in terms of post-release support, with free content that includes maps, weapons, gameplay tweaks, hats, and gameplay modes. It's unfortunate that the Xbox 360 and PS3 have not got this treatment, but for those who own it on the PC, it's the best class-based multiplayer game around currently, and it just keeps getting better. If you're a fan of multiplayer games with a heavy emphasis on team play and community building, don't miss this opportunity. I realize that it's a bit of a cop out to do a perfect 10 for your first segment, but I think this is a great game to game us started off and a great example of just how a company should support a game post-release.

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About Canti-samaone of us since 9:47 PM on 08.03.2009

Hello, I'm Trevor Johnson, also known as Canti-sama. I like to write about things including videogames (that should be paramountly obvious at this point...) music, film, and anime, so what you see in this blog is just one part of my pretentiousness! I'm a nit-picky bitch when it comes to basically everything, so excuse me if I seem like kind of an elitist, even though I try not to be. If I had to sum up who I am, I would do it through top 5 lists, so how about we a do a few right now! But before that, since DTOID tends to remove frontpage posts from my c-blog, here's the list of my frontpages, which I thank everyone very much for!

Frontpage Posts:
1. Monthly Musing - I suck At Videogames: Nostalgia's Curse, 8/12/09
2. Promoted Story - Suda 51 and the "Art" of Videogames, 9/6/09
3. Monthly Musing - Nothing is Sacred: Videogames, 10/7/09


Top 5 Favorite Videogames:
5. Fallout 3, PC
4. Mega Man X, SNES
3. Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, PS2
2. Braid, PC
1. Shadow of the Colossus, PS2

Top 5 Favorite Albums:
5. Death From Above 1979 - You're A Woman, I'm a Machine, 2004
4. Radiohead - O.K. Computer, 1997
3. Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92, 1992
2. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam, 2007
1. Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation, 1988

Top 5 Films:
5. Brazil, Directed by Terry Gilliam
4. Fargo, Directed by Joel Coen
3. Fight Club, Directed by David Fincher
2. Shaun of the Dead, Directed by Edgar Wright
1. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Directed by Sergio Leone

Top 5 Anime Productions:
5. Spirited Away, Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
4. The Big O, Directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama
3. Cowboy Bebop, Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe
2. Neon Genesis Evangelion, Directed by Hideko Anno
1. Fooly Cooly, Directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki

Avery Island: Musical Opinions From Music Geeks
PSN Name: MetalLink1979
Wii Friend Code - 8089-7286-5497-4717
XBL - Metal Link 904 (Note: My Xbox 360 is in possession of my brother, so this is no longer technically my XBL Tag)
Xbox LIVE:Metal Link 904
Steam ID:MetalLink1979
Mii code:8089-7286-5497-4717


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