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Friday, June 24, 2011

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 is a free-to-play team-based first-person shooter multiplayer video game developed by Valve Corporation. A sequel to Valve's previous Team Fortress Classic, 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. 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 microtransaction 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 game.

Team Fortress 2 in play: a group of RED players attack a BLU base on the capture point map "Well". The player, a RED medic, heals a soldier as he and a scout attack a BLU pyro
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.

Game modes
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.
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 and a pistol. 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 scout has a baseball bat for a melee weapon. 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). 

System requirements
Minimum Recommended
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.
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.

Early development
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.
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. 

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. With the first such update with the best community made content being 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.
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 steam 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 after 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. 

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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