The Orange Box must be one of the best values in AAA gaming of all time. But despite the ingenuity of Portal and the anticipation of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, there's one game that's been glove handled with such immense amounts of creativity and love that it can actually overshadow an immensely powerful showing from Valve: Team Fortress 2.
We've met the engineers, scoped the beautiful graphics and heard about the 9 character balance to no end. Now we're left with one thing: actually playing the game. So hit the jump for our Frankenreview on Team Fortress 2: all the value you see in The Orange Box, squeezed into review form with way more disappointing content. PCGamer [A]Pixar comparison isn't fair. TF2's gurning murderers look better...It sounds like a small thing, to be able to tell what class someone is as surely and as clearly as you can...But stuff like this has an intensifying effect on your moment-to-moment experience: you feel, see and comprehend the game world in Technicolor. It makes all the relationships instantly clear and the importance of your actions explicit. In short, it makes everything you do 300% cooler. 1UP Valve's rebalancing and outright revamping of key classes works; each actor in TF2's cast of nine owns his role with less overlap than ever. The football-like match flow is intact, too -- Heavies and Soldiers wrestle at congested lines of scrimmage; now and then Scouts and Spies slither through for Hail Marys (expressive in-game taunts substitute high steps) IGN If nobody wins the game at the end of a round, TF2 transitions to an overtime round where teams are no longer allowed to respawn, health pickups disappear, and resupply cabinets no longer give out health. You need to instead rely on medics and dispensers to heal any damage. Strangely, if nobody wins in overtime or wipes out the other team, the round ends in a draw. Sort of defeats the purpose of overtime, doesn't it? Eurogamer The game also does a lovely job of framing your relationship with other players and nurturing them. If someone is dominating you, the game says so, and revenge is sweeter. The scoring system, of course, helps reflect this - if someone is dominating you, they get more points for continuing to do so. Valve also includes a range of Achievements...that - rather like celebrated Geometry Wars 360 achievement "Pacifism" - push you in the direction of new ideas as much as they celebrate or laugh along with your accomplishments. Shacknews So are there imperfections? Of course...There could be a few more maps. Of the included six, only a few truly capitalise on the subtle mechanics of the game, the rest often devolving into futile, tug-of-war stalemates or crushing defeats. The classic 2Fort map now feels somewhat stale, antiquated. Default respawn times seem a little high. The classes will never be perfectly balanced—such is the nature of class-based combat...[but]to sit and complain about such minor quibbles is tantamount to taking a magnifying glass to a great painting. I'm picking this game up... as soon as we kick Gizmodo's whiny arse in Halo 3. Then I'm picking this game up.