Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Campaign to get Peggle on X-Fire

I recently (just five minutes ago) got fed up of a bunch of people on a Call of Duty 4 server acting like the classic CSS and Halo players we often assume we see, you know the sort, coloured writing, 'noob' and 'camper' claims all the time etc. Note I had X-Fire running at this time.

So where was I, oh yes, being fed up with Call of Duty I turned my attention to what other lovely games I had in my Steam account. I see 'Kane and Lynch' being downloaded (can't wait to review that one!) and amongst the rest of the games in my account I decide to give the ever popular, ever classic Peggle Deluxe a spin.

I start playing and I notice something, I notice that my X-Fire status remains as 'Online' (and has now turned to AFK due to writing this.) This strikes me as odd, why hasn't one of the biggest game tracking service not recognised that I am playing Peggle Deluxe?

I delve a little and explore, Peggle has not been picked up as an installed game on my system even though the rest of my Steam games have been. I decide to take this further and too my shock I find that Peggle Extreme is supported by X-Fire!

I ask myself why Peggle Deluxe is not supported while Peggle Extreme is, something surely is wrong with this situation! Why would a mini-version of a game being included on X-Fire, but not the original version of the game?

As such I find myself going to the X-Fire 'New Game Ideas' forum and creating this thread campaigning for the inclusion of Peggle Deluxe onto X-Fire.

Support me friends! Support the Peggle Deluxe way of life!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

C&C - Renegade lives in Tiberium?

Reports have been flooding in from numerous areas -, RPS and Shacknews among many that a new Command and Conquer FPS is in the works!

Some of the current info on it follows (taken from the various sources above)

You play as Ricardo Vega, a GDI field commander dragged out of retirement to stop the latest Nod master plan.
  • Will ship on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360
  • Set 11 years after the third Tiberium war
  • Squad-based action
  • Squads are called R.A.I.D. (Rapid Assault and Intercept Deployment)
  • Known squad types are infantry, missile infantry, Titan and Orca
  • Missions are around the "Mediterranean Red Zone"
  • Special powers such as "Orbital Slug" are available
This is intriguing, from the limited information available to us there is no mention of the Scrin and puts you in the role of a GDI commander, presumably you will be commanding a commando squad or some such thing.

This implies that Kane's Wrath with lead to a GDI victory over the Scrin and Nod, putting them both out of business for the time being. So is the ending of Kane's Wrath partially ruined already? I think it may have been!

The idea of the squads is cool, I hope EA do this game justice and get some designers in with some FPS experience (Renegade didn't go down too well when Westwood tried it) and that vehicles like the Titan and Orca that are rumoured too be included are playable and work well.

This really could be something special if EA focus less on the base managing ideas and get a very good FPS out of it.

I have seen some people complain at another 'commando fps' being planned, but seriously how else would this work? You can't just be a normal GDI infantry, you have to be something 'special' in order to fit the games fiction and such like, and to make the game interesting!

The currently penned name - 'Command and Conquer: Tiberium' is just going to add further confusion to the C&C naming schematics, but we shall see more I guess when EA come public with this.

A note - don't get massively hyped up for this game C&C fanboys, i'm not! I just hope to see a nice solid C&C FPS to help further the franchise. As long as it doesn't betray the fiction of the series I will be happy.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

ESRB - A Public Service Announcement

According to Kotaku the ESRB it taking steps to initiate a Public Service Announcement scheme in Delaware! Kotaku says that the ESRB is going to place the PSAs in malls, on billboards and even promote it via the radio!

Classic Public Service Announcement technique that is with the radio. I can imagine it now;

"This is a PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT to all parents. Please take care when buying your young children the latest MATURE rated game! This should only be played by those over the age of 17! If you buy this MATURE rated game and then give it to your children as a Christmas present please bear this in mind.


This was a Public Service Announcement from the ESRB."

And you know what? Despite all their best efforts, the parents will still buy M rated games for their children...and then complain that they contain violence and that games are the root of all evil.

Parents, everywhere please, this Christmas - buy your children the following game to avoid any issue arising - Bratz Super Babyz

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Games Journalism Today

The Games Journalism Industry

I am pulling together two other smaller blogs I have done relating to the Gaming Journalism Industry over the past few days (over on Destructoid) and here I aim to pull some ideas together in a nice coherent piece of blogging. Or maybe not, I never really know how I am going to do these blogs. So onwards!

So the Games Journalism Industry (ok I can’t be arsed typing that out all the time, I’ll just call it games journalism) is currently in a state of flux and change.

Since the Jeff Gerstmann controversy came to light I have noticed some things changing. The respect and faith placed in the big games media sites like GameSpot has all but disappeared. I have noticed a rapid increase in people registering on sites like Destructoid and The Escapist, and many people are saying that they are joining because they are fed up with the big sites, especially GameSpot. Now while this is mainly just a reaction to the Gerstmann controversy, I think it is signifying a much larger shift in dynamics for the gaming media.

The time of the large corporate sites is coming to an end, and there is a rise in the popularity of what I am calling the ‘indie’ sites and the blog. People are fed up with the corporatism of the larger networks, they are starting to realise that other sites are out there providing fresh content and more innovative features and articles.

I realise that this is not necessarily a new thing, sites like The Escapist have been around for quite a while now, and blogging has been on the rise for quite a while, but I think that are boom period could be occurring in the next few months. I for one hope that these sites can capitalise on this opportunity and help start a new wave of gaming journalism and journalists.

So what am I trying to say you may ask?

I am saying that we have to support these sites during these times of flux in gaming journalism; we must show that we will no longer bow to the will of the networks. I also hope that the work of sites like The Escapist; Rock, Paper, Shotgun and Destructoid will also lead to an end of the focus on review ‘scores’ and awards.

Review scores are becoming something of a curse in games journalism as they are what game publishers and the gaming public focus on nowadays. I read earlier today that Eidos have placed false review scores on the PR site for their game ‘Kane and Lynch’ (incidentally the game at the heart of the Gerstmann scandal) a prime example of how focused people are on the final score at the end of a review.

This is a bad path for games journalism and is something that the big network sites are helping to promote. People are becoming so concerned with the final score, and end of year awards that they don’t care about what the reviews say about the game itself.

I am beginning to think that we should end the focus on the score and think more about what the review says about the game. The final rating of a game should still be used in reviews as it provides a snapshot opinion of the game. It is the content of a review that counts and the way it is written.

I would much prefer if reviews are written in an interesting and innovative way without the need for talking up a game purely because it has been hyped to death by the PR guys.

I feel that I am now rambling on so I will come to my conclusion!

Games journalism is and has to continue changing, games journalists have to become more innovative and stop pandering to the big money of game publishers. The content of reviews should be what matters, not the final score. The involvement of everyday gamers should be promoted further in games journalism. I hope that games journalists will continue to push the rigid rules that often seem to encompass their work and lead us into a new intellectual age.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Independent Games Festival - Grand Final Nominees

The list of the Grand Finalist Nominees for the 10th Annual Independent Games Festival have been revealed!

Here is the list of the Grand Final Nominees and the nominees for all of the other categories ranging from Best Web Browser Games to Technical Excellence.

The Grand Final Nominees are as follows:
Crayon Physics Deluxe
Noitu Love 2: Devolution
World of Goo

Hopefully I can find time before the Awards Ceremony on the 20th of February 2008 to give these games a quick whirl and present my thoughts.

IGF Homepage

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Call of Duty 4 Review

Call of Duty 4 - Review

Call of Duty 4 is an immense game, one of the few First Person Shooters to have had a similar impact on me to that of the Half-Life games. Upon first playing this game I knew I would love it, there is something about it which is just brilliant. The game is highly cinematic at times in single-player, with some scenes just brilliant and at times shocking. This game does some things which I have not witnessed in other games, and at times my jaw was left hanging at what had occurred to you character.

So you play two characters, which as ever in the Call of Duty series you switch between playing as at various times during the campaign. You are either ‘Soap’ Mactavish or Jackson; Soap is your SAS character and Jackson is who you play as with the US Marines. The single-player is, as I have already said very cinematic, but it is also very short clocking in at about 7 hours. Now this isn’t one of the Half-Life episodes where you expect that, but a full single-player game. But this is the gaming world we currently live in, but that is a rant for my own time. So you may only get 7 hours of the straight campaign, which is nicely doubled though with the Arcade mode and Cheats you unlock by completing the game and getting all the ‘intelligence’ items in the game.

The story is actually there, a first I think for a Call of Duty game which used to just throw you into fixed battles and let you go from there, but this have a general plot for you to play inside. Oh did I not mention this time we are playing in the modern day? No, oh well, I’ve told you now! It is pretty decent story I must say, bringing back some characters from the old Call of Duty’s like MacMillan and Price while introducing some new ones to keep it fresh. My one problem with the story is that the developers took a mixed approach, in some ways they were very, very bold in some aspects which I don’t want to ruin for you, while in other aspects they were very reserved, the Marine side of the game takes place in ‘THE MIDDLE EAST’. A minor annoyance I must say that they didn’t even name a country in that part of the campaign, while other areas of the campaign take you through Russia and some other nice ex-Soviet Bloc countries.

The gameplay is good and fast paced. Cover is of great importance; you find cover and move up while avoiding the many grenades you will find thrown at you. It seems at times like the enemy has an infinite grenade supply! The healing system from Call of Duty 2 returns, if you see red blood marks clouding your HUD then you need to jump behind some cover and rest for a few seconds to heal up. The AI is solid if not spectacular, your squad mate will do a decent job, but it is often left up to you to make the forward move to get them to tag along with you and to stop the enemy respawning. There is no quicksave as such, but there are checkpoints scattered around the maps, luckily they are well placed so you don’t have to travel miles to get back to where you want to be. The weapons are all very well balanced and do a good job depending on which ones you use. However you can only have to weapons on you at any one time, by default you have a primary weapon, a handgun, a few special grenades (Flash, Smoke, Stun) and a few normal frag grenades in your inventory. Other times you may have C4 and night-vision in your inventory among other things like airstrikes.

The graphics are very good, it seems a very scaleable game and looks good even when playing at the lower end of the scale, though obviously a better rig means better graphics at better framerates. That is unless you have an Xbox360 which I think have heard looks just as good as on the PC, though as I don’t have a 360 I cannot provide a fair judgement. The effects are very nice, rain is top notch, the weapons are all well modelled and detailed, and the character models are excellent. The motion-capture has been used extremely well and characters sprinting look as you would expect someone loaded down with equipment to be.

The multiplayer is yet again, top notch! I thought TF2 was good, but this in my mind takes the biscuit (though I hate the server browser!) with some great customization all around, be it on the server side or on your character. There are plenty of game types to sink your teeth into, Death Match, Team Death Match, Search and Destroy, Domination (control point exercise), Headquarters and Sabotage. These game modes can be combined with some other options like ‘Hardcore’ mode where the HUD is removed and plays realistically and other game modes which provide you with random pickups to provide you with a hint of Quake.

Infinity Ward have also employed a very good ranking system in which all servers will report the stats unlike Battlefield 2 which required servers to be set-up to be ranked. As it is you progress up the ranks which require various experience points which you gain via kills, assists, completing challenges (such as getting x amount of grenade kills) and using special equipment. The special equipment comes after getting a nice little kill streak and you can get a UAV, an Air Strike and a Attack Helicopter to come swooping over the battle bringing death and destruction. At different ranks you can unlock new weapons, bits of kit like silencers for them and ‘perks’ which allow some great customisation of your character. There is currently a bug that sticks out, if you are playing the game with Steam Friends on then you will be kicked by Punkbuster, so turn off Steam Friends and use Xfire instead until this gets resolved.

Overall this is an amazing game, really enjoyable almost all the time, brilliant in sections and with an amazing multiplayer. However the campaign is a bit short and there are a few too many tedious moments filling the gaps between the epic ones. But still, get this game!

Vital Info

Cost - £30 PC, £40 360 and PS3 ( Steam price for this is extortionate I must admit.

Requirements – P4 2.4Ghz, AMD equivalent, 512MB RAM, 8GB Hard Drive Space, GeForce 6600 or ATi 9800Pro or better, internet for multiplayer

Pro’s – Great graphics and multiplayer, innovative ranking system, amazing moment in singleplayer

Con’s – Too short!

Overall – 10/10

Friday, 30 November 2007

Gerstmann sacked for being truthful

Word has it from various sources (RPS, Shacknews and Kotaku) that Jeff Gerstmann has been sacked from his position as Editorial Director for GameSpot

This has stemmed from a honestly written review of Kane and Lynch that Jeff did over on GameSpot, and it also seems that his video review of the game (below) have played a big part in this situation having arisen.

Now normally someone doing an honest review is what we expect from games journalists (and is something I always strive to do myself) but to sacked for it is worrying. It seems apparent that Eidos have had a large role in this situation arising, before today GameSpot was adorned with Kane and Lynch adverts with big main page background adverts and the ability for GameSpot users to create their Kane and Lynch advert

While Jeff's written review is still live his video review seems to have been taken down. This all reeks of Eidos using their advertising influence to force GameSpot and their parent network CNet's hand. This is a grave situation where GameSpot have wilted in the face of the money men at Eidos and sacked Jeff for being honest!

This is possibly setting a very dangerous precedent for the games journalism industry whereby reviewers will write 'false' reviews for fear of a similar situation occurring if they slate a game in a similar situation.

Many people have viewed GameSpot in a poor light for many a year for giving to big review scores for games that have been similarly hyped and advertised like Kane and Lynch and are undeserving of the scores. For once Jeff did an honest review and paid the price.

Where this goes from here only time will tell, but I just hope games journalists and magazines and sites like GameSpot don't continue to wilt under publisher pressure like this.

Best of luck to Jeff for the future, I sincerely hope will get a job like he deserves quickly.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Football Manage 2008 Review

Football Manager 2008

It is that time of year again, the leaves are falling off the trees, the weather is turning cold and wet, the football season is well under way, and the latest Football Manger is released. This is the latest instalment from Sports Interactive, the developers behind the old Championship Manager series before corporate shenanigans led them to release under the Football Manager moniker.

This latest version does the basics well; the database has been fully updated for the 2007/2008 season, the match engine has been tweaked and other changes to finance and international management are welcomed. However there seems to lack the major singular improvement that we have seen in previous versions. The media still gets stale after a few hours of playing with the same options repeating themselves all too regularly.

Something about this version still gets me though, whether it is the new skin or the new on-the-fly tactical changes that have been taken from the upcoming FM Live I don’t know, maybe it is the joy of seeing Hasselbaink and Fowler lining up in a Cardiff shirt, who knows. Despite the lack of any game shaping changes (at least in my mind) I would stick highly recommend it to any fans of the series and anyone looking for a nice distraction between lectures.

Rating – 9/10

Orange Box - Review

The Orange Box

The Orange Box (OB) is the latest release from the gaming giants, Valve. The OB is a collection of three new games, and two old ones thrown in for free, and it costs the price of a single game at retail. So what are these games you ask? Well let me tell you!

First off we have Half-Life 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode 1, these are the two free games I mentioned. The three new games are - Half-Life 2: Episode 2; Portal and Team Fortress 2. As Half-Life 2: Episode 2; Portal and Team Fortress 2 (TF2) are the new games, I will take each in turn and review them separately! On with the show….

Half-Life 2: Episode 2

Playing Episode 2 is like waking up from a long long sleep and being immersed into the best day of your life straight away. It has been a long while since Valve’s first shot at episodic content was released (Half-Life 2: Episode 1) 16 long months of waiting, but here it is, Episode 2, the middle part of the trilogy of Half-Life 2 Episodes, and it is well worth the wait.

The story picks off from where we left Episode 1, that is the end of the gameplay experience, not the video that appeared upon completion of the game, and you can also discount many of the teaser trailers Valve released last year. I will avoid giving away and more spoilers, but I will let you know that the story is magnificent and has been written with a style that anyone who has played a Half-Life game before will be accustomed too, and newcomers to the series will find to be a breath of fresh air compared to many other current First Person Shooters.

The gameplay is a brilliant; we are taken out of the oft claustrophobic depressing environment of City 17 and put into a race to White Forest where Dr. Kleiner and Eli Vance await your arrival with Alyx. This journey takes place in underground Antlion tunnels, a road trip in a muscle car that is a great improvement on Half-Life 2’s buggy and an amazing forest area and a couple of others besides. The changes of gameplay areas provide for a much more refreshing experience than achieved in Hall-Life 2 and Episode 1, and the pacing is exquisite, the game ebbs and flows without leaving you over-burdened with action and bored with travelling. This is something that many modern games get wrong. I must also say here that the end section of the game is much better than in Half-Life 2 and Episode 1, this time you are presented with a monolithic battle, of which I shall say no more except that it shows Half-Life at its best.

The Source engine that powers Episode 2 (and everything else in the Orange Box) has been given a stunning face-lift, all the models and textures have been improved in every way, and it is evident that the artists have utilised the new environments they worked in excellently. Facial and body animations are as ever brilliant, in particular with the mysterious G-Man. Everything just seems crisper than they have done; it was worth some delays to see the engine like this!

Overall I think Episode 2 has the edge over Episode 1, and in some ways over Half-Life 2 due to the tighter pacing and the fact that I love the new environments. The achievement and Director’s Commentary provide you with many reasons to go back and play this game again, and you will love to do so. Valve have really done themselves proud with a must own game for any gaming fan.


Portal wakes you up from a long long sleep. Hang on…I already made the sleep analogy in the Episode 2 review….hmm. Well at least in the case of Portal the sleep comments are justified as you start the game waking up from a deep sleep in your room in Aperture Science. You are a character known as Chell and you are in for a crazy ride!

Portal is the second part of Valves’ Orange Box and it is a short piece clocking in at 2-3 hours of gameplay in the main mode and a whole lot more replayability in the other game modes. It may be short, but it is very sweet, kind of like a cake if you will. Your character Chell is tasked by GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disc Operating System) to complete a series of tasks set inside Aperture Science. These tasks are made special by the use of the ASHPD (Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device) which as the name suggests is a Portal device. What is a Portal device I hear you ask? Well it is a device which allows you to create Portals in the game world through which you, and pretty much everything can travel through.

Yes, Portal is a puzzle game, but it is a great one involving dark-dark-humour, cake and great fun. The writing of Portal is perhaps the best writing I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing and listening to, GLaDOS is a machine whose personality is evident from her introduction and comments during the various levels of Portal, and even the gun-turrets are magical with their comments after you kill them.

I must talk about the gameplay, Portal has been built upon the Source engine by a group of students who were hired by Valve after showing off the spiritual predecessor to Portal, Narbacular Drop. You open portals using two buttons, the left and right mouse buttons and the portal can be placed anywhere allowed by GLaDOS in the level you are currently on. You step through one and you come out the other, do this at speed and you can go flying. Pretty simple eh? Well it is until you get to some of the latter challenges which can be very challenging!

After completing the excellent main game you can take part in the Bonus Maps, with ‘Advanced’ maps where different restriction are imposed upon you and ‘Challenge’ maps for you to complete by using the least portals, in the least time and the least footsteps. These along with the Achievements add a layer of replayability well beyond that of many ordinary games making this somewhat special.

Overall this is an amazing game with very few faults, I may have bought the Orange Box for Episode 2, but I came away enjoying Portal the most of anything that came with it. Get this game, and get some cake to play it with. Amazing.

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2 is here! Finally the sequel to Team Fortress Classic has been released after numerous attempts by Valve to make something they felt was right. And boy have they done it! Team Fortress 2 is a game that breathes a new lease of life into the online first person shooter genre moving away from the current trend of realistic modern-day Middle-Eastern warfare and futuristic alien invasions to a setting of fun! That is the key to this game, fun! Team Fortress 2 is a class-based online shooter that is immensely fun and cool.

The graphical design of Team Fortress 2 is in stark contrast to the other games in the Orange Box, providing us with a visual style that immediately grabs your attention. Everything is semi-cartoony but with a basis of reality, I can’t give it justice with words, but trust me that it looks, and more importantly feels right! In fact everything about this game feels right, the look of everything, especially the classes fit in, and the voice acting also perfectly matches what you expect them to be like.

The gameplay itself is brilliant, all the classes have specific styles of playing, a Scout quickly nips in and out of areas, an Engineer builds defences and a Sniper picks off the enemy from a distance, throw in the rest of the classes and you have a nice blend of approaches you can take to play the game. The weapon load outs for each class suits them perfectly, and looks as they should, powerful and might cool.

The maps, while small in number provide quality entertainment, there is a Capture the Flag map, 2Fort which has been reincarnated from Team Fortress Classic and Territorial Control maps, both game modes do exactly as they say on the tin. Grab the Flag (Intelligence actually) and control the map with control points. They are nice and simple, but more importantly fun to play on. Get a group of mates together, find a server and go wild, I assure you that fun will be had!

The achievements are back again which along with a stat tracking system will keep you coming back for more just to be able to clinch the final kill that you need for an achievement. With the Steam Community you are also able to compare your stats with those of your friends who have played Team Fortress 2.

Overall this is a great new addition to the PC multiplayer scene, everything seems to be spot on which is what we come to expect from a Valve game. Everything about Team Fortress 2 is fun, it is well worth playing!


The Orange Box combines three of the best games to be released this year, and with the bonus of Half-Life 2 and Episode 1 you are getting a great deal. The standout game is Portal for providing us with something new and exciting, while Episode 2 continues the excellent legacy of the Half-Life series and Team Fortress 2 provides and exciting new multiplayer component to the online gaming scene. Due to all the games being built on the Source engine they should all run on any modern PC with a graphics card from the past several years. The Orange Box can be had for about £25 from most retailers and from Steam, a bargain for five games. A last note is that the internet is required to activate the game.

Rating – 10/10

Monday, 15 October 2007

'Orange Box'

I have the Orange Box, the epic grouping of epic games by the epic Valve. *note to self, stop using 'epic'* I have fallen in love with everything in the OB, Episode 2 of the Half-Life franchise, Portal and Team Fortress 2!

I will be doing a review of each of these soon! Well maybe not TF2...already done a first impressions piece..will just edit that :P

Just to say, the OB ruuuules :D

Monday, 1 October 2007

Peggle Deluxe - Review

Peggle Deluxe is quirky game presented to us by PopCap Games for the bargain price of $9.95 or about £5. This really is a bargain for a game that will provide you with hours and hours of entertainment! The gameplay is simple but fun, you have a ‘level’ in which you shoot balls at pegs and blocks. It may not sound much but it is damn addictive! Your aim is to hit all the orange pegs and blocks but shooting the ball towards the pegs/blocks and hoping it bounces well for you. The majority of any given level is taken up by blue pegs/blocks which give you points when hit, there is also a pink peg/block that changes position every time you relaunch your ball which gives you bonus points. Finally there is a green peg which activates whichever special feature is available in the zone you are in (for the main game mode at least). Now this may not sound too much, but it all works so well! You will find yourself constantly trying to complete levels with higher scores and by clearing more of the pegs/blocks in the level than you did before. There are several game modes, an Adventure which takes you through all the levels in a set order, Quick-Play which allows you to play any level completed in Adventure, Duel which lets you play against the AI or another player on the same PC and a Challenge mode where you have to complete different tasks from Adventure mode. These are all very good, and the Challenges can be very tough at times, as can the AI in the Duel mode, however this just makes you want to win the level even more! My one major gripe is that there is no online play which would add a lot more to the game, but as it is this a really fun game to fill in those gaps between lectures, and for $9.95 it is well worth it!

Vital Info

Cost - $9.95 via Steam

Requirements – A PC that works

Pro’s – Really fun, cheap and masses of replayability

Con’s – No real multiplayer mode, frustrating at times

Overall – 9.5/10

Ultimate Doom - Retro Review

The classic Ultimate Doom has recently been released via Steam for $9.95 or with today’s’ exchange rates a fiver. Ultimate Doom is the original Doom game with a new final level added on to the end. For those who don’t know, Doom was a key game in the first wave of First Person Shooter (FPS) games by developer id Games. Doom was a follow on from Wolfenstein 3D (also by id) and added new graphical features and gameplay features such as….stairs! The gameplay may be considered basic and limited by modern standards, however for a game over ten years old these things can be forgiven. The premise of the game is that you are a Marine on a moon of Mars where Hell has literally broken loose. You have to fight through the demon hordes collecting guns, ammo, health, armour and key cards which allow you to progress through the levels. Due to the ageing engine any modern computer should run this and allow people to enjoy a classic in video gaming history. My closing comment is, buy this…now!!!

Retro Rating – 9/10

Team Fortress 2 - First Impressions

Team Fortress 2 Beta – First Impressions/Preview

So the Beta for Team Fortress 2 (TF2) has finally been made available to all of those who pre-order the Orange Box via Steam. Any by finally I do mean finally as for those of us in the UK at least we had to wait until the early hours of Tuesday, the day after the Beta was meant to be unlocked. However this is a Valve game and as such we should all be used to this by now, and I think the wait was worth it.

My first impressions of the TF2 Beta are that this is a very highly polished release. All the Character Classes are available, as are all the maps, map videos, taunts and everything else. The Stats system is up and working in-game and via the Steam Community pages. This certainly gives off the impression of a Beta just being used to show off the game and test on a wider range of systems rather than a Beta which feels more like an Alpha version.

The graphics and sounds are, in a word – perfect. Well they are at least on my rig. Running a P4 3.2, 1 GB RAM and an nVidea 7900GS at 1024*768 with the recommended settings gets me solid frame rates. Unlike in some other games the use of High Dynamic Range (HDR) is done with a touch of style. The graphical style is at first striking, but soon you learn to appreciate the direction Valve took with it. The contrast in graphical styles on some maps, CTF_2Fort for example is brilliant with the contrast between the Red and Blue Bases. The sounds are very good (despite the rare occurrence of the ‘stutter bug’ that plagues Source Games) with all the Characters voices sounding very unique, and some of their taunts are very humorous. My one gripe is that the sound for healing from a cabinet is the same as what is used in HL2, but this is a mere personal taste.

I must note here however that the infamous ‘Stutter Bug’ has resurfaced, while not present for everyone, I have read reports of it, and even I have started to become a victim of it. Whether or not Valve will find a fix for this issue remains to be seen.

The gameplay itself is fantastic, having never really played Team Fortress Classic I am not in a position to compare gameplay styles; however I am willing to base my views on what I have seen and done myself. The gameplay is a finely tuned, and finely balanced thing, all the Characters (or Classes, I prefer to call them Characters as they have so much of it….character that is) have roles to fill, Scouts are there to run in, get the Intelligence or cap a point quickly, the Heavy is the big mean killing machine, the Engineer sets up defence, the Medic is the healer and the Spy is a game decider in the right hands. However using a Character a role they are not designed for is likely to get you killed, and quickly. While I have seen many fans of TFC complain about the lack of grenades in any form, I find the Demoman has removed the need to have grenades in for every Character. The maps themselves are very well made, CTF_2Fort is (slightly disappointingly the only) Capture the Intelligence map, where a briefcase containing ‘Intelligence’ must be taken from the enemy base and returned to your own. The other maps are variations of the Capture to Control Point gametype. However they are done in different styles, some maps are straight head-to-heads, and others involve a switch between attack and defence.

The Stat Tracking and Achievements is a very nifty feature, though I do wonder whether Valve is just catering to the Xbox 360 gamers? I sincerely hope not and I hope to see an expanded Achievements section, hardcore TF2’ers are going to complete them all within no time. However I must say this is early days for the Stats system, and the incorporation of it into the Steam Community can only be seen as a positive sign for the future. If anything I think this is the one area which is lacking Valves’ trademark uber-high levels of quality we have come to expect from them.

Overall though this is a very good Beta for a game, and I hope Valve will take into account the fans comments and make changes as they feel are necessary. The gameplay is great and the Graphical Style has been done to perfection! The maps are great as are the Characters, and I think this will be a great game once completed and a brilliant part of the Orange Box.

Saturday, 29 September 2007


So my first post onto Blogspot :O

Little bit about me!
- Live in Cardiff Wales
- Study Modern History and Politics at Uni
- Work at a supermarket
- Have a lovely longterm girlfriend
- Run my own website -
- Content writer on another site -

Not sure what else to say for now...