Team Fortress 2: Brotherhood of Arms
After many long, blurry-eyed nights of co-operative Doom, the first-person gaming world decided that Deathmatch - beefy marines running around maps, scoffing all the toys and letting loose at anything that moved - was the way forward. Most of us went along for the adrenaline, but secretly we yearned to work alongside other people instead of whisking their innards into a souffle. We wanted to shout orders.
Yell for help. Go on reconnaissance missions. Be choosy about gobbling power-ups in case someone else needed them. Remember that warm, fuzzy feeling when you gave up the plasma rifle to a friend who had nothing but a pistol? Sure you do. Because, like us, you wanted to feel part of a close-knit crew.
When Quake arrived, it was a bit of a let down. No, it was a lot of a let down. Many gamers considered it a step back from the co-operative nature of Doom, and left in droves for the likes of Duke Nukem and Hexen where the old team spirit was still alive. Just as they all upped and went, though, Aussie programmers Robin Walker, John Cook and Ian Caughley came up with the now legendary Team Fortress mod for Quake. Suddenly id's rather introverted blast 'em up had been transformed into a massive, online, multiplayer experience with different player classes, unique weapons, and a single goal for the whole team. The maps were also designed to enhance this teamplay aspect and also...
It's considered a dirty word in action circles, but strategy is still the core component of every Team Fortress game, whether running under Quake, Half-Life or standalone in the form of Team Fortress 2. And it's strategy that TF2 has as its building block. "Player objectives will be simple enough for new players to understand," says Rob Walker, the game's lead designer, "but complex enough for more experienced players to organise themselves and do a whole lot more than just shoot each other." The game will ship with around 20 maps and four separate campaigns, each designed to highlight one of the many strains of gameplay, including Capture the Flag, Territorial Control and Escort. One variation includes a scenario where all players start out as engineers working together to build structures that unlock new classes. Sadly, and perhaps a little worryingly, rumour has it that there will be no 2Fort variants (small maps where two bases face each other). "Multiplayer gaming is all about interacting with people," continues Rob. "So we're spending a great deal of our time creating environments for players to interact in. We're putting people into situations where success relies on them working together as a team. Most of the current maps simply don't do that."
But that doesn't mean you have to interact or have to work together. Unlike previous incarnations, TF2 will come fully loaded with intelligent AI players, based around the frighteningly realistic core code from Half-Life, with each bot able to use any of the different classes. So you could, for example, arrange a 16-player game where you are the only 'real' participant, and leave the teamwork side of things up to your CPU. Another diversion from the past is that individual kills won't show up. The only score that counts is the score you get as a team, which will further distance the game from straight Deathmatch. Before you moan, think about it for a second: picture yourself playing the TF2 Beach Assault campaign, based on the Normandy invasions of 1944. Notching up masses of frags would be pretty meaningless if the raid fails and your team loses, wouldn't it?
Existing versions of Team Fortress have been limited somewhat by the underlying graphics engine, whether it be Quake or Half-Life, with player classes restricted to standard game models and overlaid with variable colour skins. In TF2, though, everything changes. The new software powerhouse is a modified version of the original Half-Life code (itself a modified version of id Software's Quake engine) and able to use top-quality textures and effects. As long as you have a suitably beefy 3D accelerator card, such as a 3Dfx Voodoo3 or Riva TNT2, you'll be able to experience TF2 as it was meant to be experienced. Teams are no longer colour coded red and blue, and will instead be identified by a combination of uniforms and urban, desert, jungle or Arctic camouflage. Each class is built around a unique skeleton, making around 32 new models in total, and you'll be able to download and use individual skins to identify yourself from other players in the same class, making an almost infinite number of different combinations. The parametric animation system used for the skeletons is an astonishing leap forward for the first-person genre, and looks as though it could be way in advance of anything Quake 3 Arena has to offer. Complex movements can now be rendered in real time, and Valve have used this to inject added realism to the whole experience. Squads caught in the blast of explosions are thrown up and forward with an obvious jolt, reaching out to break their fall When they hit the ground with a bump, their limbs are thrown backwards by the impact. You'd think that you were watching a glossy cut-scene rather than the genuine, on-the-fly, in-game action.
TF2 also promises to add vehicles such as tanks, helicopters, armoured personnel carriers and submersibles. But as with so many aspects of the game, the exact line-up of features has yet to be confirmed - and it's for this reason you shouldn't wrinkle your nose and prejudge it. We know it looks overly elaborate, we know it's a massive leap from the simplicity of Team Fortress Classic, but that shouldn't put you off. Valve know their market like no other developer, and are renowned for getting things right. Just wait and see, okay?
Download Team Fortress 2: Brotherhood of Arms
PC compatible, P-100
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode
Team Fortress 2: Brotherhood of Arms Screenshots and Media
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