So I've been playing TF2 for two weeks now and I've come to the conclusion that it is most certainly the funnest multiplayer game in the history of the world. Ever.
The retail version of the game isn't available until the 10th of October. Last Tuesday Valve released the game as a beta to people who pre-purchased the Orange Box (and got 10% off, and Peggle EXTREME to boot, which in itself is the best reason to pre-purchase - do it now if you haven't already). Initially, being so close to the release date and the fact that it was inevitably going "gold" any minute now, I figured this wasn't really a beta so much as it was a pre-release perk to pre-purchasers. Turns out I was proven wrong by Valve themselves, who after just a couple days of beta-ing, rolled out an update that fixed several issues.
Since steam is required for Team Fortress 2, the game will automatically update to the latest version as soon as the user installs it anyway, so even if the gold version that people will buy in-store doesn't have these updates, the game will update itself. One of the reasons I love steam so much. <3 Steam.
One of the fixes removed the animated background for the menu (like pretty much all source-based games have) which was supposed to fix compatibility issues. I wasn't aware of any issue but for me it cut loading times in half, which was one of my initial beefs with the game. Before the update it would take forever to start up. After the update it takes about as long as any other source game. So kudos to Valve for that.
There are a couple of things that have stuck out to me.
- First off, a lot of the pickups and general sound-effects are recycled from Half-Life 2. It's really disappointing when you hear the commentaries. They say they had some spare time once they had finished the game, so they implemented some extra animations and taunt gestures. But they didn't have enough time to make some new sound effects?
- Respawn times. Sometimes they can be ridiculous. The longest I've seen was about 25 seconds. It really sucks if you're an engineer and you killed by a spy, then the spy proceeds to sapper your turrets and dispensers. You can't do anything about it because you need to wait 25 seconds to respawn. By then the buildings are long gone and the spy has since relocated to another area. The slow respawns can really take away from the fast paced action of the other units, like the soldier, and especially the scout. Then again, other times you can get a respawn time of 5 seconds or less, which is great.
- Sudden Death. It needs to be removed. It's the worst feature ever and nobody likes it. Every time it starts everyone moans. Sometimes it's often induced twice in a row, once for the round timeout, and a second time for the map timeout. Sudden Death would be great for clan wars and such, but in public servers ("pubs") it's just a big camp fest that always ends in a draw.
- Red barrels don't blow up. This goes against everything I've ever learnt from games. I see a red barrel, I expect it to blow up when I shoot it. If you're going to make a barrel an object in the environment, make it light blue or grey.
Apart from those small little pesterings, I can honestly say I've never had as much fun in a game as I have with TF2. It's just.. fun.
I think the death cam is my favourite feature of the game. In the faster-paced areas of the maps, quite often your killer will already be dead before the death cam shows them, so it'll show blood and guts and gibs flying all over the place. The gibs are another thing that are really well done in this game. Cartoony gibs make killing people, and getting killed, unnaturally fun.
Sadly, of all the people I know that have pre-purchased the Orange Box, the majority of them seem to be spending more time playing Peggle Extreme than TF2. I can't really blame them, Peggle is addictive.