- Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2
The box art for the standalone PC version of Team Fortress 2 depicts the Heavy class in the foreground with his teammates including the Engineer, Pyro and Sniper in the background.
Developer(s) Valve Corporation Publisher(s) Valve Corporation Distributor(s) Electronic Arts (retail)
Designer(s) John Cook
Composer(s) Mike Morasky Engine Source Version 22.214.171.124 (26 October 2011) Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Mac OS X
Release date(s) Genre(s) First-person shooter Mode(s) Multiplayer Rating(s) Media/distribution Optical disc, Digital download System requirements
See Development section
Team Fortress 2 (abbreviated as TF2) is a free-to-play team-based first-person shooter multiplayer video game developed by Valve Corporation. A sequel to the original mod Team Fortress based on the Quake engine, it was first released as part of the video game compilation The Orange Box on October 10, 2007 for Windows and the Xbox 360. A PlayStation 3 version then followed on November 22, 2007. The game was later released as a standalone package for Windows on April 9, 2008, and for Mac OS X two years later. Team Fortress 2 is distributed online through the Steam system, while retail distribution was handled by Electronic Arts. In June 2011, the game became a free-to-play title, supported by microtransactions for unique in-game equipment through Steam. The development of Team Fortress 2 is led by John Cook and Robin Walker, the designers who originally created the Team Fortress modification for Quake in 1996.
The game was announced in 1998, powered by Valve's GoldSrc engine, but has since been through various concepts and designs. In 1999, the game appeared to be deviating from its predecessors by pursuing a more realistic and militaristic style of gameplay, but the design metamorphosed over its nine-year development period. The final rendition sports cartoon style visuals influenced by the art of J. C. Leyendecker, Dean Cornwell and Norman Rockwell and is powered by the Source engine. The game itself revolves around two teams, each with access to nine distinct characters, battling in a variety of game modes set in evil genius environments.
The lack of information or apparent progress for six years of the game's original development caused it to be labeled as vaporware, and it was regularly featured in Wired News' annual vaporware list among other ignominies. Upon its release, the game received critical acclaim and several awards, being praised for its graphical style, balanced gameplay, comedic value and for its use of full character personalities in a dedicated multiplayer only game.
Like its predecessors, Team Fortress 2 is focused around two opposing teams competing for a principal objective. These teams, Reliable Excavation & Demolition (RED) and Builders League United (BLU), are meant to represent two holding corporations that between them secretly control every government on the planet. Players can choose to play as one of nine classes in these teams, each with his own unique strengths and weaknesses. Although the abilities of a number of classes have changed from earlier Team Fortress incarnations, the basic elements of each class have remained. The game was released with six official maps, although 25 extra maps, 9 arena maps, and four training maps have been included in subsequent updates. In addition, a number of community assembled maps have been released. When players join a level for the first time, an introductory video shows how to complete its objectives. During matches, an eternally dissatisfied woman voiced by Ellen McLain announces various game events over loudspeakers. The player limit is 16 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. On the PC, a vanilla server can hold 24 players, but in 2008 Valve updated Team Fortress 2 to include a server variable that allows up to 32 players. Third party modifications have made it possible to host up to 36 players on one server.
Team Fortress 2 is the first of Valve's multiplayer games to provide detailed statistics for individual players. They include the time spent playing as each class, most points obtained and the most captures or objectives achieved in a single life. Persistent statistics tell the player how he or she is improving in relation to these statistics, such as if a player comes close to his or her 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 have been added in updates, which add new abilities and weapons to each class once unlocked by the player. This unlockable system has since been expanded into a random-chance system, where the player can also obtain the items simply by playing the game. Achievements unlocked and statistics from previously played games are displayed on the player's Steam Community or Xbox Live profile page.
The objective of the game is defined by the game mode in use.
In capture the flag maps, the objective for both teams is to obtain a briefcase of intelligence from the enemy team's base and return it to their own base while preventing the opposing team from doing the same.
Control point modes are more varied in their objectives, but share the common aim of capturing a particular point on the map. In some levels, the objective for both teams is to secure all the points on the map. On other levels (attack/defend), one team already holds all the points and must defend them from the other for a set amount of time. A more complex variation (territorial control), introduced with the map "Hydro", is based on territory: each team must capture the other team's single active control point to secure that section of the map. Once all sections have been captured by one team, they are then able to attack the other team's base directly. In an update on August 13, 2009, Valve included a fourth control point variation: King of the Hill. In this mode, both RED and BLU have to capture the center point and defend it for a set amount of time before the opposing team does. When a team gains control of the point, their timer starts to count down. If the other team captures the point, the former team's count down is stopped, and the latter team's starts. In an update on December 17, 2010, another control point variation, Medieval Mode, was added. In this mode, players are restricted to using melee weapons and bows for combat.
In payload maps, one team has to work to escort a rail cart carrying a bomb along a track through a series of checkpoints, eventually detonating the bomb in the other team's base. The other team has to defend their positions and prevent the cart from reaching the end within a set amount of time. In the payload race variation, both RED and BLU attempt to escort a payload along symmetric (either parallel or opposing) tracks. The payload mode was introduced in April 2008 with the map "Gold Rush"; payload race was released in May 2009 with the map "Pipeline".
Arena is a team deathmatch mode. Arena maps focus on smaller environments and no respawning after the death of a player's character. A team wins in arena by eliminating all of the other side's members in the arena or capturing the map's central control point. Arena was introduced in the August 2008 update.
There are nine unique player classes in Team Fortress 2, categorized into offense, defense, and support roles. Each class has at least three weapons: a unique primary weapon, a common or unique secondary weapon such as a shotgun or pistol respectively, and a distinct melee weapon in keeping with the character, such as a liquor bottle for the Demoman, a kukri for the Sniper, and a fire axe for the Pyro.
The three offensive classes are the Scout, the Soldier, and the Pyro. The Scout (voiced by Nathan Vetterlein) is portrayed as a fast-talking baseball fan from Boston, Massachusetts, and is a fast, agile character armed with a scattergun, a pistol and a baseball bat. The Scout is capable of performing double jumps and also captures control points and pushes payloads faster than two other teammates doing the same; however, the Scout cannot sustain much damage. The Soldier (voiced by Rick May) is more durable, but is consequently slower in his speed. A stereotypical American military man, the Soldier is armed with a rocket launcher, shotgun, and a shovel. The rocket launcher can be used to rocket jump to higher positions. The final offensive class is the Pyro (voiced by Dennis Bateman). Clad in a fire-retardant suit and a voice-muffling gas mask, the Pyro carries a flamethrower that can set other players on fire, as well as being able to produce a blast of compressed air that knocks nearby enemies and projectiles away and extinguish friendly players who are on fire. The Pyro carries a shotgun as its default secondary weapon but is able to unlock a Flare Gun, and uses a fire axe for melee combat.
The Demoman, the Heavy, and the Engineer make up the defensive classes. The Demoman (voiced by Gary Schwartz) is a black, one-eyed Scotsman who drinks heavily. Armed with a grenade launcher and a sticky bomb launcher, the Demoman can use his equipment to provide indirect fire onto enemy positions. The Heavy (also voiced by Schwartz) is a stereotypical Russian character, with a huge figure and heavy accent, obsessed with his guns to the point of giving them human names. The Heavy can sustain more damage than any other class, and can gain more health by eating food like the Sandvich or the Dalokohs Bar (chocolate bar), and put out immense amounts of firepower, but is slowed down by both his own size and that of his minigun. The Engineer (voiced by Grant Goodeve) is the last defensive class, portrayed as a relaxed and intellectual "good ol' boy" from Texas. The Engineer is capable of building a number of structures to support his team: a sentry gun to defend key points, a health and ammunition dispenser and a teleporter system.
The final category, support, consists of the Medic, the Sniper, and the Spy. The Medic (voiced by Robin Atkin Downes) is a German doctor from Stuttgart with little regard for the Hippocratic Oath, responsible for keeping his teammates alive. The Medic is accordingly armed with a "medigun" to heal teammates, and can make teammates temporarily invulnerable or enhance their firepower after the Medic's ÜberCharge is full. The Medic is also equipped with a syringe gun and a bonesaw. The Sniper (voiced by John Patrick Lowrie) is a cheerful Australian ocker style character who rationalises his line of work, equipped with a laser sighted sniper rifle to attack enemies from afar, a submachine gun for close combat, and a kukri for melee attacks. The last support class is the French, deadpan Spy (also voiced by Dennis Bateman): in addition to a revolver, he is equipped with covert tools, such as a temporary cloaking device, an electronic sapper to sabotage Engineers' structures, and a device hidden in his cigarette case that gives him the ability to disguise as other players. The Spy can also use his butterfly knife to stab enemies in the back, which instantly kills them.
Valve has stressed their focus on game balance when considering new improvements to the character classes. Every class has its own strengths and weaknesses which leads to reliance on other classes in order to be efficient. This forces gameplay into more strategic thinking and an increased utilization of teamwork than would be found if one class had inherent superior advantages. Each of the classes in the three categories have shared strengths and weaknesses, while each individual class also has its own advantages.
System requirements Minimum Recommended Microsoft Windows Operating system Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000 CPU 1.7 GHz 3.0 GHz Memory 512 MB RAM 1 GB RAM Graphics hardware DirectX 8.1 video card; 256MB minimum video card memory. (NVIDIA GeForce 5 / ATI x1500 or higher) DirectX 9.0 video card; 512MB recommended video card memory. (NVIDIA GeForce 5000 or higher / ATI Radeon or Sapphire w/ HD support) Network Internet Connection; minimum 128kbps p/ sec with low latency. Mac OS Operating system Leopard 10.5.8, Snow Leopard 10.6.3 Memory 1 GB RAM Graphics hardware NVIDIA GeForce 8 / ATI X1600 or higher Network Internet Connection
Team Fortress originally began life as a free mod for Quake. Development on Team Fortress 2 switched to the GoldSrc engine in 1998 after the development team Team Fortress Software—consisting of Robin Walker and John Cook—were first contracted and finally outright employed by Valve Corporation. 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, 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 Half-Life Software Development Kit as an example to the community and industry of its flexibility.
Walker and Cook had been heavily influenced by their three month contractual stint at Valve, and now they were 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 E3 1999, 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 on show: Parametric animation seamlessly blended animations for smoother, more life-like movement, and Intel's multi-resolution mesh technology dynamically reduced the detail of on-screen elements as they became more distant to improve performance (a technique made obsolete by decreasing memory costs; today 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 development of Team Fortress 2 had been delayed for a second time. They attributed the delay 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 six years of silent development. 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—raising doubts that Team Fortress 2 was really the active project that would be repeatedly described.
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. Before Episode Two's release Gabe Newell again claimed that news on Team Fortress 2 would be forthcoming, and Team Fortress 2 was re-unveiled 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 had seen many years of protracted development and engine changes. The beta release of the game featured six multiplayer maps, of which three contain optional commentary by the developers on the 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 on 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" and achieved with extensive use and manipulation 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 explanations to be sidestepped. The game debuted 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. The voices selected for each of the classes were based on imagining what people from the 1960s would expect the classes to have sounded like, according to writer Chet Faliszek.
The map design has a strong evil genius theme with archetypical spy fortresses, concealed within inconspicuous buildings such as industrial warehouses and farms to give plausibility to their close proximities; these bases are usually separated by a neutrally-themed space. The bases hide exaggerated super weapons such as laser cannons, nuclear warheads, and missile launch facilities, taking the role of objectives. 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. RED bases use warm colors, natural materials and angular shapes, while BLU bases use cool colors, industrial materials and orthogonal shapes.
Release and ongoing development
During the July 2006 Electronic Arts press conference, Valve revealed that Team Fortress 2 would ship as the multiplayer component of The Orange Box. A conference trailer showcasing all nine of the classes demonstrated for the first time the game's whimsical new visual style. Managing director of Valve Gabe Newell said that the company's goal was to create "the best looking and best-playing class-based multiplayer game". A beta release of the entire game was made on Steam on September 17, 2007 for customers who had pre-purchased The Orange Box, who had activated their Black Box coupon, which was included with the ATI HD 2900XT Graphics cards, and for members of the Valve Cyber Café Program. The beta continued until the game's final release.
The game was released on October 10, 2007, both as a standalone product via Steam and at retail stores as part of The Orange Box compilation pack, priced at each gaming platform's recommended retail price. The Orange Box also contains Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, and Portal. Valve offered The Orange Box at a ten percent discount for those who pre-purchased it via Steam before the October 10, release, as well as the opportunity to participate in the beta test.
Since the release of Team Fortress 2, Valve has continually released free updates and patches through Steam. In addition, the game is also being expanded by fans with the tools used by Valve to create the game. Valve has included some of the most popular community-created levels in the official updates. In January, 2010 Valve started allowing users to submit additional content, such as hats, weapons and Steam avatars, through a contribution site. The first such update with community-made content was released in March with several new hats and weapons. A current series of updates sees the classes gaining alternate weapons with different abilities, while putting in certain drawbacks to each unlockable weapon to maintain balance. The Medic, Pyro, Heavy, Scout, Sniper, Spy, "Classless", "Hallowe'en", Demoman, Soldier, and Engineer updates have been completed, together updating all nine of the classes. Later updating included the ability to craft new equipment in game, trade items with other players, purchase in-game items through funds in Steam, and save and edit replay videos that can be posted to YouTube. Valve has also occasionally released new game types as part of their updates, such as the aforementioned Payload and Payload Race, a Training mode for practicing, Highlander which restricts each team to nine players with each member playing a different class, and a Medieval mode where players are restricted to melee weapons and era projectile weapons like longbows. Valve has created a blog to keep players up to date with the ongoing developments in Team Fortress 2.
Development of the new content has been confirmed for the Xbox 360, while development for the PlayStation 3 was deemed "uncertain" by Valve. However, the PlayStation 3 version of Team Fortress 2 received an update that repaired some of the issues found within the game, ranging from graphical issues to online connectivity problems; this update was included in a patch that also repaired issues found in the other games within The Orange Box. The updates released on PC and planned for later release on Xbox 360 include new official maps and game modes, as well as tweaks to classes and new weapons that can be unlocked through the game's achievement system. The developers attempted to negotiate with Xbox 360 developer Microsoft to keep the Xbox 360 releases of these updates free, but Microsoft refused and Valve announced that they would release bundles of several updates together to justify the price.
On June 10, 2010, Team Fortress 2 was released for Mac OS X, shortly after the release of Steam for the Mac OS X. The release was teased by way of an image similar to early iPod advertising, showing a dark silhouette of the Heavy on a bright green background, his Sandvich highlighted in his hand. Virtual earbuds, which can be worn when playing on either Mac or Windows once acquired, were given to players playing the game on a Mac before June 14, though the giveaway period was later extended to August 16.
On June 23, 2011, Valve announced that Team Fortress 2 would become a free-to-play title; the core game could be enjoyed for free, while unique equipment, character outfitting, and the like would be available as microtransactions through the in-game store tied through Steam. Though Valve will continue to add items to the store to support the game, Walker asserted they will continue to provide new features and items for free. Walker noted that through various promotions, Valve has come to understand the wide range of players that continue to play the game, and that for the multiplayer title, "the more people playing the game, the higher value the game has for each individual customer". The move came a week after Valve introduced several other third-party free-to-play games to the Steam service, and commented to journalists that they were working on their own free-to-play title.
To promote the game, Valve has released an ongoing video advertisement series entitled "Meet the Team" since May 2007. Constructed using the game engine and slightly more detailed character models, the series consists of short videos on individual characters, displaying their personalities and tactics. The videos are usually interspersed with clips of the character in combat in the game. The manners which these are presented have varied drastically: the first installment, "Meet the Heavy", depicted an interview with the gun-obsessed Eastern European while "Meet the Soldier" showed the Soldier giving a misinformed lecture on Sun Tzu to a collection of severed heads as if to raw recruits. The videos are generally released through Valve's services, though in one notable exception, the "Meet the Spy" video was leaked on YouTube during the Sniper/Spy update week. The "Meet the Team" videos are based on the audition scripts used for the voice actors for each of the classes; the "Meet the Heavy" scripts is nearly word-for-word a copy of the Heavy's script. More recent videos, such as "Meet the Sniper", contain more original material. The videos have been used by Valve to help improve the technology for the game, specifically improving the facial animations, as well as a source of new gameplay elements, such as the Heavy's "Sandvich" or the Sniper's "Jarate". Newell has stated that Valve is using the "Meet the Team" shorts as a means of exploring the possibilities of making feature film movies themselves. Newell believed that only game developers themselves have the ability to bring the interesting parts of a game to a film, and suggested that this would be the only manner through which a Half-Life-based movie would be made.
In more recent major updates to the game, Valve has presented teaser images and online comic books that expand the fictional history of the Team Fortress 2, as part of the expansion of the "cross-media property", according to Newell. In August 2009, Valve brought aboard American comic writer Michael Avon Oeming to teach Valve "about what it means to have a character and do character development in a comic format, how you do storytelling". "Loose Canon", a comic associated with the Engineer Update, establishes the history of RED versus BLU as a result of the last will and testament of Zepheniah Mann in 1890, forcing his two bickering sons Blutarch and Redmond to vie for control of Zepheniah's lands between them; both have engineered ways of maintain their mortality to the present, waiting to outlast the other while employing separate forces to try to wrest control of the land. This and other comics also establish other background characters such as Saxton Hale, the CEO of Mann Co., the company that provides the weapons for the two sides and was bequeathed to one of Hale's ancestors by Zepheniah, and the Administrator, the game's announcer, that watches over and encourages the RED/BLU conflict. The collected comics will be published by Dark Horse Comics in Valve Presents: The Sacrifice and Other Steam-Powered Stories, a volume along with other comics created by Valve for Portal 2 and Left 4 Dead, to be released in November 2011.
Valve had provided other promotions to draw players into the game. Valve has held weekends of free play for Team Fortress 2. Through an early update, hats and accessories can be changed or added to any of the classes, giving players some ability to customize the look of their character. Hats can be gained as a rare random drop, through the crafting / trading systems, or via cross-promotion: Limited-edition hats have been awarded for pre-ordering or gaining Achievements in other content from Steam, both from Valve (such as Left 4 Dead 2 and Alien Swarm) or other third-party games such as Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, Worms Reloaded or Poker Night at the Inventory (which features the Heavy class as a character). According to Robin Walker, Valve introduced these additional hats as an indirect means for players to show status within the game or their affiliation with another game series simply by visual appearance (although a chosen few hats provide stat bonuses when combined with certain equipment).
Reception Aggregate scores Aggregator Score GameRankings 92% (based on 14 reviews) Metacritic 92% (based on 16 reviews) Review scores Publication Score 1UP.com A Eurogamer 9/10 GameSpot 8.5/10 GameSpy  IGN 8.9/10 PC Gamer UK 94% GameDaily 9/10
Upon release, Team Fortress 2 received widespread critical acclaim, with an overall score of 92% on both Metacritic and GameRankings. Many reviewers praised the cartoon graphics approach and the resulting light-hearted gameplay, and the use of distinct personalities and appearances for the classes impressed a number of critics, with PC Gamer UK stating that "until now multiplayer games just haven't had it." Similarly, the game modes were received well, GamePro described the settings as focusing "on just simple fun", while several reviewers praised Valve for the map "Hydro" and its attempts to create a game mode with variety in each map. Additional praise was bestowed on the game's level design, game balance and teamwork promotion. Team Fortress 2 has received several awards individually for its multiplayer gameplay and its graphical style, as well as having received a number of "game of the year" awards as part of The Orange Box.
Although Team Fortress 2 was well received, Team Fortress 2's removal of class-specific grenades, a feature of previous Team Fortress incarnations, was controversial amongst reviewers. IGN expressed some disappointment over this, while conversely PC Gamer UK stated "grenades have been removed entirely — thank God". Some further criticism came over a variety of issues, such as the lack of extra content such as bots (although Valve have since added bots in an update), problems of players finding their way around maps due to the lack of a minimap, and some mild criticism over the Medic class being too passive and repetitive in its nature. The Medic class has since been re-tooled by Valve, giving it new unlockable weapons and abilities.
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