This might stir up some controversy among you nerds, but I’m willing to say right here, right now that Valve’s Team Fortress 2 is probably the best video game to come out in the last five years in terms of craftsmanship and charm alone. For those of you who don’t know, the game’s mechanics are extraordinarily, brilliantly simple: you play as one of nine classes of fighter (such as the rocket-launcher wielding soldier, the headshot nabbing sniper, or the friendly healing medic) on one team, and attempt to complete objectives (such as capture-the-flag, territory control, or bomb-planting) against another team, with each team made up of people from the internet.
The beauty of the game, however, is in the details that the developers put into the whole project. Team Fortress, the game’s predecessor, was a mod for Quake, and very much looked the part. The distinct classes were there, but they all just sort of looked like the same beige cubes running around with different insignias on their helmets. The maps were workmanlike and utile, but their textures were dreary and grim. Team Fortress 2, on the other hand, took the whole concept and put it through the lens of an early 1960′s magazine advertisement: the colors are bright and enjoyable, the landscapes have character and visual depth, and, best of all, the classes all have distinct personalities. While other games like it (I’m looking at you, Call of Duty 4 multiplayer) barely make an effort to change the silhouettes of their different classes, TF2 has made each class a character all its own.
With this in mind, the design team has made — for no real reason other than extra publicity, mind you — small character introduction videos for 7 of the 9 classes, with promises of completing the other two some time before the heat death of the universe. The most recent one is Meet The Spy, which you can (and should) watch here:
It’s excellent writing, beautiful animation (all done in the game’s actual graphics engine) and a prime example of Valve’s admirable commitment to their profession. In other words, I’d like Valve to get me hell of pregnant.