For those keeping track I have forbid myself from ever playing games on Steam, by Relic, and EA (although that’s going to be hard with Spore coming). Yet another recent test of my resolve came when learning about Team Fortress 2. Since Steam is required to play it, I wiped it from my mind but I recently ran across the ” Meet the…” videos on Valve’s website. Just watching them has really hurt my stance and I’m really tempted to install Steam just for this game (yeah I know Portal supposedly rocks but that is for another entry).

I love it when a game truly has style , such as Okami or Killer 7 and Team Fortress 2 has it in spades. I really want to shake the hands of the designers and artists who came up and went with the less realistic look. I’ve been saying for years that aiming for a perfect realistic look to your games is the wrong way to go as a benchmark for if a game looks good or not. The style of Team Fortress 2 helps the game out in many ways not just on the visual side.

Lets face it designing and showing a tree that has perfect textures, and now showing a park made of all those trees requires alot of system resources and one very expensive computer to be able to run it. Lag in online games can be a killer, even more so in first person shooters where a split second can make all the difference. Using a less detailed style allows Valve to create a game that doesn’t kill your computer and let people who haven’t spent over 2k on a computer play.

Moving to aesthetics, Valve has made something that is both visually different and appealing compared to other games on the market. There is a sense of having a brand in Team Fortress 2 thanks to the look. It’s hard to tell the difference between one muscle bound soldier to another in realistic FPS games, but here you can easily see the difference between the heavy weapons guy and the soldier for instance. I still can’t imagine this game using a more realistic look now that I’ve seen this. The animation on the videos and style is so good I wouldn’t mind them making more videos once they’ve covered all 9 classes. One other aspect Valve nailed is giving their characters a personality whether it’s the smooth talking engineer, to the speak quietly and carry a huge mini gun of the heavy weapons guy.

Game play in Team Fortress 2 is based on the original which is team vs team matches where each person chooses a class that affects health, attack strength,and skills available. Valve has been supporting the game well with new weapons and achievements for classes by retouching the classes as time goes on. You can check out their blog here: www.teamfortress2.com . Unfortunately I don’t have it so this is as far as I can really talk about the game play.

One common theme of the best video games is to have everything about it harmonize with one another. Where every part of this game belongs with everything else and you can’t even think about the game missing any of these elements. I personality think that Team Fortress 2 nails this goal and I feel it’s going to be harder to resist as more videos are released

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“Tom and Jerry were onto something.”

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