Team Fortress 2
|Team Fortress 2|
John Cook, Robin Walker
First person shooter
Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Mac OS X, Linux
Download, DVD, Blu-ray disc
Team Fortress 2 is a team-based multiplayer first person shooter developed by Valve Software as part of the game bundle The Orange Box. It was first released for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 on October 10, 2007. A PlayStation 3 version then followed on November 22, 2007. Following suit, it was released as a standalone title on April 9, 2008, and on June 10, 2010, Team Fortress 2 was released for Mac OS X. The PC and OS X versions of Team Fortress 2 adopted a "Free to Play" model on June 23, 2011 with all revenue being generated from micro transactions in the In-game Store. After several months of closed beta, Team Fortress 2 was finally released for Linux operating systems on February 14, 2013.
The game was first announced in 1998 as a sequel to the original Team Fortress mod for Quake, but has since been through various concept and design periods. In 1999, the game appeared to be abandoning the art styles of the original Team Fortress Classic by transitioning toward a more realistic and militaristic style of gameplay. However, the design continued evolving over the game's nine-year development period and game engine switch. The final art style rendition of Team Fortress 2 resembles that of the original Team Fortress and Team Fortress Classic games, and also features a cartoon-like visual style based on the art of Dean Cornwell, J. C. Leyendecker, and Norman Rockwell. Team Fortress 2 follows a popular trend in recent CGI films, in particular, films recently made by Pixar Animation Studios, such as The Incredibles.
The absence of media information or apparent development progress for six years of the game's development caused it to be labeled as vaporware, and it was regularly featured in the Wired News' annual vaporware list, among gaming news outlets. Since its release, however, the game has received critical acclaim and several awards.
Like its predecessors, Team Fortress 2 is centered around two opposing teams competing for an objective. These two teams are meant to represent a demolition and a construction company as a part of the backstory: Reliable Excavation Demolition (RED) and Builders League United (BLU). Players can choose to play as one of nine classes in these teams, each with their own unique strengths, weaknesses, abilities, and roles. Although the abilities of a number of classes have changed from earlier Team Fortress incarnations, the basic elements of each class have remained.
Team Fortress 2 is the first of Valve's multiplayer games to incorporate detailed statistics for players. These statistics include the time spent playing as each class, the average point score, and the most captures or objectives achieved in a single round. Persistent statistics tell the player how they are improving in relation to these statistics, such as if a player comes close to their record for the damage inflicted in a round. Team Fortress 2 also features numerous achievements for carrying out certain tasks, such as scoring a certain number of kills or completing a round within a certain time. New sets of class-specific achievements were added in updates after main release. These have added new abilities and weapons to each class once unlocked by the player. Unlocked achievements and statistics from previously played games are displayed on the player's Steam Community or Xbox LIVE profile page.
On the PC and OS X versions of Team Fortress 2, the initial release only included six official Valve maps, with several dozen more being added to the game over the years by Valve and the Team Fortress 2 community. On the console versions, however, these original six maps, all released by Valve, are still the only maps available. The official maps are commonly themed with an evil genius or retro-spytech mentality, with secret bases that are concealed within industrial warehouses, as well as exaggerated super weapons such as laser cannons and missile launch facilities taking the role of objectives.
When players join a map for the first time, an introductory video shows them how to complete map objectives. Map player limits are twenty-four on the PC and OS X, although the player limit has been altered on some servers to reach as high as thirty-two, while the player limit on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is sixteen.
Originally developed as a freeware mod for Quake, Team Fortress 2 switched to the GoldSrc engine in 1998 after the development team of Team Fortress Software – consisting of Robin Walker and John Cook - was first contracted and employed by Valve. At the time, Team Fortress 2 was called Valve's Team Fortress. At the point of Team Fortress Software's acquisition, production moved up a notch and the game was promoted to a standalone, retail product to tide fans over since, as well as time issues, much of the Team Fortress player base had purchased Half-Life solely in anticipation of the free release of Team Fortress 2. Work began on a simple port of the game which was released in 1999 as the free Team Fortress Classic. Notably, Team Fortress Classic was built entirely within the publicly available GoldSrc Software Development Kit (SDK) as an example to the community and industry of its flexibility.
Walker and Cook were heavily influenced by their three-month contractual stint at Valve, and began working full-time on their design, which was undergoing rapid metamorphosis. Team Fortress 2 was to be a modern war game, with a command hierarchy including a commander, with a bird's-eye view of the battlefield; parachute drops over enemy territory; networked voice communication; and numerous other innovations.
The new design was revealed to the public at the 1999 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) where it earned several awards including Best Online Game and Best Action Game. By this time Team Fortress 2 had gained a new subtitle, "Brotherhood of Arms", and the results of Walker and Cook working at Valve were becoming clear. Several new, and at the time, unprecedented technologies were on show: parametric animation; seamlessly blended animations for smoother, more life-like movement; and Intel's multi-resolution mesh technology dynamically reducing the detail of on-screen elements as they become more distant to improve performance (a technique made obsolete by decreasing memory costs, since today's games use a technique known as level of detail, which uses more memory but less processing power). No release date was given at the exposition.
In mid-2000, Valve announced that Team Fortress 2's development had been delayed for a second time. They put the news down to development switching to an in-house, proprietary engine that is today known as the Source engine. It was at around this time that all news ran dry, and Team Fortress 2 entered its notorious six-year vaporware phase, which was to last until July 13, 2006. During that time, both Walker and Cook worked on various other Valve projects – Walker was project lead on Half-Life 2: Episode One and Cook became a Steam developer among other things – raising doubts that Team Fortress 2 was really the active project that was being repeatedly described.
When the infamous Half-Life 2 source tree was leaked in late 2003, two Team Fortress 2 models were included along with the Team Fortress 2 source code – which was fully compilable. They consisted of an alien grunt and a very stylized, out-of-proportion human soldier. The code was interpreted by fans as making references to parts of the Half-Life backstory; however, the two leaked player models did not resemble any known style from the Half-Life series, leading many to think it was meant for Team Fortress 2.
The Source SDK was released with the Half-Life 2 source code, and also provided references to Team Fortress 2. Some code merely confirmed what was already believed, but other segments provided completely new information such as the presence of NPCs in multiplayer matches, the possibility of the game taking place in the Half-Life 2 universe, fixed plasma gun and missile launcher emplacements, and more.
None of the leaked information appears to have had any bearing on today's version of the game. This iteration was mentioned in an August 2007 interview with Gabe Newell by GameTrailers and a September 2010 interview with PC Gamer, in which he mentions "Invasion" as being the second phase of Team Fortress 2's development under Valve Software.
The next significant public development occurred in the run up to Half-Life 2's 2004 release: Valve's Director of Marketing Doug Lombardi claimed that Team Fortress 2 was still in development and that information concerning it would come after Half-Life 2's release. This did not happen, nor was any news released after Lombardi's similar claim during an early interview regarding Half-Life 2: Episode One. Near the time of Episode One's release, Gabe Newell again claimed that news on Team Fortress 2 would be forthcoming – and this time it was. Team Fortress 2 was unveiled again a month later at the July 2006 EA Summer Showcase event.
Walker revealed in March 2007 that Valve had quietly built "probably three to four different games" before settling on their final design. Due to the game's lengthy development cycle it was often mentioned alongside Duke Nukem Forever, another long-anticipated game that went through many years of protracted development and engine changes before being released.
The beta release of the game featured six multiplayer maps of which three contain optional commentary by the developers on game design, level design, and character design, and provide more information on the history behind the development.
Team Fortress 2 does not attempt the realistic graphical approach used in other Valve games using the Source engine such as Half-Life 2, Day of Defeat: Source, and Counter-Strike: Source. Rather, it uses a more stylized, cartoon-like approach "heavily influenced by early 20th century commercial illustrations." The effect is achieved using a special Valve in-house rendering and lighting technique making extensive use of 'Phong shading'. The development commentary in the game suggests that part of the reason for the cartoonish style was the difficulty in explaining the maps and characters in realistic terms. The removal of an emphasis on realistic settings allows these questions to be sidestepped. The game debuts with the Source engine's new dynamic lighting, shadowing and soft particle technologies, among many other unannounced features, alongside Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Team Fortress 2 was also the first game to implement the Source engine's new Facial Animation 3 features.
The art style for the game was inspired by J. C. Leyendecker, as well as Dean Cornwell and Norman Rockwell. Their distinctive styles of strong silhouettes and shading to draw attention to specific details were adapted in order to make the models distinct, with a focus on making the characters' team, class, and current weapon easily identifiable. Silhouettes and animation are used to make the class of a character apparent even at range, and a color scheme that draws attention to the chest area brings focus to the selected weapon.
Maps are designed with a neutral space between two bases. They are archetypal spy fortresses, but disguised as inconspicuous buildings to give plausibility to their close proximities. The maps have little visual clutter and stylized, almost impressionistic modeling, to allow enemies to be spotted more easily. The impressionistic design approach also affects textures, which are based on photos that are filtered and improved by hand, giving them a tactile quality and giving Team Fortress 2 its distinct look. The bases are designed to let players immediately know where they are. The RED base uses warm colors, natural materials, and angular shapes, while the BLU base uses cool colors, industrial materials, and orthogonal shapes.
During the July 2006 Electronic Arts press conference, Valve revealed that Team Fortress 2 would ship as the multiplayer component of Half-Life 2: Episode Two. A conference trailer demonstrated the game's new graphical style featuring all of the original Team Fortress classes, pointed towards a more light-hearted and whimsical visual style as opposed to the dark, somewhat more traditional, military simulation that had originally been shown. Gabe Newell, the managing director of Valve, said that their goal was to create "the best looking and best-playing class-based multiplayer game."
A beta for Team Fortress 2 was released via Steam on September 17, 2007 for customers who pre-purchased The Orange Box and for those who activated their "Black Box" coupon, which was included with ATI HD 2900XT Graphics cards. In addition to The Orange Box customers, LAN gaming centers using the 'Steam for Cafe' system had the game installed and ready to play.
Team Fortress 2 was released October 10, 2007 as both a standalone product via Steam and at retail stores as part of The Orange Box – a game bundle pack priced at each gaming platform's standard price. The package also contains Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two. and Portal. Valve offered The Orange Box at a $5 discount for those who pre-purchased it via Steam before the October 10 release, as well as the opportunity to participate in the final beta test of Team Fortress 2. The game receives constant, free updates that give the game new content, bug fixes, and additional features.
Team Fortress 2 became free-to-play on June 23rd, 2011 on Steam.
Team Fortress 2 was very well received by critics and consumers alike. Charles Onyett of IGN awarded Team Fortress 2 an 8.9/10 praising the quirky graphics and fun atmosphere, but criticizing the lack of extra content, like bots, as well as the removal of class-specific Grenades which were one of the defining features of the original Team Fortress. By contrast, PC Gamer UK praised Team Fortress 2 for removing the Grenade, continuing to compliment Valve Software for the unique nature of each of the game's characters. Despite some mild criticism over map navigation and the Medic class, PC Gamer UK awarded the game 94%. X-Play awarded The Orange Box with its highest rating (5/5) with nothing but good things to say about Team Fortress 2. Review aggregation site Metacritic ranks Team Fortress 2 as having received "universal acclaim", with an average critic review of 92%, based on 12 reviews by game critic sites, and a 9.6/10 rating based on user ratings. As of January 21, 2008, The Orange Box has a GameRankings score of 96.2% on the Xbox 360, making it tied for the highest ranked Xbox 360 game, and a score of 96.2% on the PC.
|Evaluation||Magazine / Website||View|
|100||AceGamez||The marriage of highly stylised retro-spy presentation, fresh, high octane action, deep and varied classes and the underlying twinkle of humour in its metaphorical eye make Team Fortress 2 far more than just your average fragfest. Long after the novelty of the graphics wears thin, we are left with a refined and accessible multiplayer game that simultaneously cultivates new players whilst retaining enough depth to accommodate even the hardiest of veterans.|
|100||GameSpy||At this point, it's a leading contender for our Multiplayer Game of the Year, and whether you pick it up as part of the Orange Box package or on its own via the Steam digital download service, it's worth every penny.|
(Re-review) [July 2011]
|Team Fortress 2 is the purest embodiment of Valve's philosophy: listening to their audience, always updating, and forever over-delivering. It's also the best argument for Steam as a platform ever made: with an average of one update a fortnight it has expanded and changed so much, yet like its celebrated silhouettes, still stands out, utterly familiar.|
|96||Cheat Code Central||Team Fortress 2 is a must-buy. It's the most fun you'll have being shot at in a long time.|
|96||YouGamers||When the biggest flaw of the game is that it gets a bit repetitive after the first hundred or so hours of play, you know you have something special.|
|94||PC Gamer UK||Rich, gorgeous and endlessly fun.|
|93||Computer Games Online RO||Watch out though, if you get the taste of it, eventually you might end up telling your boss, "Take it like a man, shorty!"|
|93||PC Zone UK||The perfect integration of classes, the character and level design, the visuals, and the level of accessibility. [Dec 2007, p.64]|
|92||GameZone||This game makes me laugh even when I'm losing… an impressive feat.|
|90||Eurogamer||The game also does a lovely job of framing your relationship with other players and nurturing them.|
|90||GameDaily||With a whacky, off-the-wall cartoon style, Team Fortress 2 provides excellent class based multiplayer action. TF2's classes are unique from each other and stand out to fulfill specific roles, but flexible enough to adapt to changing situations.|
|90||Play (Poland)||The ideal online shooter: average player can enter the fray and even hurt somebody, while pros will be grinding away milliseconds from the time to carry the suitcase on 2Forts. And all thanks to the fact that among the nine classes there is exactly zero useless ones. The only serious drawback is the disgracefully low number of maps: only six. [Dec 2007]|
|90||1UP||I loved, loved TF2's cosmetic makeover. "Cartoon come to life" isn't compliment enough. Some cartoons are better animated, more distinctively stylized than others – and, by analogy, this is among the best.|
|90||PALGN||Team Fortress 2 is, at heart, a gloriously simple game that's been created with style, panache and an undeniable love of gaming. It's the kind of game that you want to show to people who don't play games so that they understand and then either get involved or go away. There is life before Team Fortress 2, and there is life after. After is better.|
|90||GamerNode||The action is fast-paced and furious, the game's presentation is hilarious and exciting and the gameplay is very easily approachable. Experiment with a few classes or stick with one, but do anything to get your hands on TF2. It'll be an online experience you won't forget.|
|89||IC-Games||It's one hell of a game. With its powerful artistic style and blazingly quick, yet accessible gameplay, it's enough to melt the icy cynicism imprisoning the hearts of even the most jaded among us. That being said, it's not the most complex shooter out there.|
|85||The New York Times||Team Fortress 2 is a beautifully designed game with a visual style reminiscent of old Warner Brothers cartoons, and battles that combine strategy with frenetic action. The only real flaw is the documentation, which is far too skimpy to be of any help at all in learning the intricacies of each soldier class.|
|85||GameSpot||Team Fortress 2 sets a brilliant stage for its signature brand of class-based multiplayer mayhem.|
(Re-review) [January 2014]
|Staying relevant even a year after release is rare for a competitive shooter, and yet, here's Team Fortress 2, still lively after seven years in the business. At times it feels like the same game you could have played back then, and at other times it feels like no one will ever quite nail class-based shooter competition the way TF2 does. The experience has evolved over the years without compromising what made it so great in the first place, so though your free-to-play options may have increased considerably in the past few years, there are few that do it as well as Team Fortress 2.|
Team Fortress 2 has won several awards since its release. In its "Best of 2007" awards, IGN.com honored the game with an award for "Best Artistic Design" for the PC. Additionally, Team Fortress 2 received awards for "Best Multiplayer Experience (PC)", and "Best Artistic Direction (PC)" from 1UP.com in its 2007 editorial awards. The game also won "Best Multiplayer Game of the Year" both on the PC and on any platform in GameSpy's 2007 Game of the Year awards along with an award for "Most Unique Art Style".
- The Team Fortress 2 page at the official site of The Orange Box.
- Valve Software official site.
- The Official Team Fortress 2 Blog
- The Team Fortress 2 Game Hub on Steam.
Major game updates (oldest to newest):
- The Gold Rush Update (April 29, 2008)
- The Pyro Update (June 19, 2008)
- A Heavy Update (August 19, 2008 )
- The Scout Update (Febuary 24, 2009)
- The Sniper vs. Spy Update (May 21, 2009)
- Classless Update (August 13, 2009)
- Hallowe'en Special (October 29, 2009)
- WAR! Update (December 17, 2009)
- 119th Update (April 29, 2010)
- The Mac Update (June 10, 2010)
- The Engineer Update (July 8, 2010)
- The Mann-Conomy Update (September 30, 2010)
- Scream Fortress Update (October 27, 2010)
- Australian Christmas (December 17, 2010)
- The Hatless Update (April 14, 2011)
- The Replay Update (May 5, 2011)
- The Über Update (June 23, 2011)
- The Manniversary Update (October 13, 2011)
- Very Scary Halloween Special (October 27, 2011)
- Australian Christmas 2011 (December 15, 2011)
- Pyromania Update (June 27, 2012)
- Mann vs. Machine Update (August 15, 2012)
- Spectral Halloween Special (October 26, 2012)
- Mecha Update (December 20, 2012)
- Robotic Boogaloo Update (May 17, 2013)
- Two Cities Update (November 21, 2013)
- Love & War Update (June 18, 2014)