PC Gamer calls it "the most fun you can have online" and I'm inclined to agree. Perhaps not as challenging or mature as other online games, Team Fortress 2 is an essential addition to any gamer's library, regardless. And it's usually on sale--I've seen it for as little as $6 on Steam (I got mine for $10). So what's the hold up? Go download it already and start playing!
Okay, so maybe you actually want to know a little about the game. I guess I can do that. Well, not only is it filled to the brim with cheeky humor (it reminds me a lot, stylistically, of classics like Ratchet & Clank and Crash Bandicoot), but its nine distinct classes (offensive, defensive, and support) make for satisfyingly variable gameplay. With well over a dozen different maps and a handful of different games to play like "Arena", "Payload", "Capture the Flag", etc., all involving two opposing teams--RED and BLU--every time that you log on to play TF2, you can usually expect a unique round. Not to mention, depending on what classes are on the field and how many there are, the interaction between players and the tactics demanded can change completely.
What first got me interested in the TF2 was Valve's series of "Meet the Team" videos meant to promote the game. The videos are not only immensely humorous and entertaining, but they do a good job giving you a sense of each class's abilities and purpose within the team.
The three offensive classes of TF2 are the Scout, Soldier, and Pyro. According to Team Fortress 2's official Wiki page, the Scout is a young'n from Boston who "flies like a butterfly and stings like a Shotgun blast to the face." He is the fastest of all the classes, making him useful in pushing Payload carts, stealing enemy intel, and capturing control points, among other things. Along with his in-your-face attitude, the Scout is equipped with a shotgun and a baseball bat as his primary and secondary weapons. Since his max health is low, it is critical for the Scout to utilize his ability to hit and run and attack opponents at close range.
Then there's the Soldier, who was designed to do the most damage, long-range, of all the classes. The Soldier uses a rocket launcher, which, not only does a considerable amount of damage, but allows the Soldier to attack from safer distances.
The final offensive class--the Pyro--is my favorite class to play by far. Not much is known about the Pyro in terms of his personal life...in fact, no one can even say for sure that it's even a "he" in that suit. His mask makes it nearly impossible to understand what he's saying most of the time, but his fighting methods are perfectly clear. As his name might suggest, the Pyro is most savvy with his flamethrower, which has a short range but deals impressive damage. Those who manage to flee the Pyro's flamethrower will still remain on fire for several seconds unless they die first or seek health before the flames go out. If the Pyro manages to ambush his enemies, though, you can pretty much expect them to be toast. Perhaps the Pyro's most important task is Spy-checking, which he accomplishes by setting invisible or disguised Spies on fire, revealing them and usually killing them.
The defensive forces are made up of the Heavy, the Demoman, and the Engineer. Arguably the most essential defensive class is the Engineer, who, instead of engaging in direct combat with his opponents, has a number of buildings he can set up, such as the sentry, teleporter, and dispenser. The Engineer's sentry can be incredibly lethal and problematic for the opposing team, while his teleporter and dispenser can be of great use to his own.
The Heavy, a giant Russian with a thick accent, has the most HP of all the classes and uses a minigun (which he shows more affection and concern for than any of his teammates). Essentially, it takes a lot to kill him and he can easily take down anyone who gets caught in his way of fire, but he's slow and easy to sneak up on. Regardless, he's a pretty good guy to have on your team, all in all, and while he's easier to play than some of the other classes, the Heavy is often crucial to a good defense. As one might expect, he can put quite a hurtin' on his enemies, and he makes a good Medic buddy as well.
The Demoman is, quite simply, "a black, Scottish cyclops" who can often be found with some sort of booze held tightly in his grasp. And, you know, is also a tactical, explosive-damage-dealing, defensive class. Armed with grenade and sticky bomb launchers, the Demoman is best played when he uses his sticky bombs (mines that stick to the ground, walls, ceilings, etc.) to set up traps for incoming enemies or send grenades ricocheting around corners. This is especially effective in situations where the enemy has to stand on or get to a specific area like a control point. Even more so than the Heavy, players will find that they can use the Demoman in circumstances that demand offensive action as well as defensive, such as taking down an enemy Engineer's sentry gun. Overall, a fun and diversely useful class.
Lastly, there are the support classes, which are the Sniper, the Medic, and the Spy. The Sniper and the Medic are both pretty self-explanatory, but the Sniper is obviously in charge of picking off targets with his sniper rifle from a distance where he is barely even noticeable and is, more or less, safe from harm. Don't get too comfy, though--you're usually pretty easy to sneak up on. While a sniper typically doesn't make as many kills as an offensive class, he has the ability to wait for high-value targets like Medics or Spies to make their way into his scope. If a player is feeling a little more ballsy, though, they can equip the Huntsman bow and arrow instead of the rifle, which is a more offensive weapon that demands attacks that are at a shorter range. Because of their specialized abilities, there should only be so many Snipers (like, two or three, tops) on the team at a time. The Sniper is from the Australian outback.
The Medic, who's quite obviously from Germany, is primarily responsible for healing his teammates when they take damage, of course, but he can also be an essential asset in taking down an Engineer's sentry turret or keeping enemies away from a control point or base. When the medic uses either his standard Medigun or the Kritzkrieg to heal his teammates, he charges up for either a temporary period of shared invulnerability between himself and a teammate or a bout of critical hits (or "crits") that his target can unleash upon the opposing team, depending on what weapon he's using. For most situations, the Medic's Über (invulnerability) is more necessary than a Kritz, especially when playing on an offensive team. While the Medic's role is a relatively simple one, you'll find yourself in big trouble on a team without him.
The very last class in the game is the Spy. The Spy can be incredibly useful, sneaking into enemy territory while invisible or disguised, backstabbing his opponents, and sapping Engineers' buildings until they are completely destroyed. They are arguably the most difficult class to play, however, and you usually only want one or two on your team.
With all that said, I seriously suggest that if you enjoy playing games online, you consider purchasing the game or at least giving it a try, cos it really does have something in it for everyone. It's fun and it allows for all sorts of different gameplay. Valve also puts out frequent updates which keep the game from going stale, even after months and months or even years of playing.
Expect a post on my love affair with the Pyro in the near future.
Images were found in several different places around the web and are (presumably) the property of Valve.