Team Fortress 2 - hands-on

Engineers work best in partnerships, too, but with each other. They now build sentry guns, healing stations and teleporter pads much faster if they work together. It’s common to see a gaggle of them crowded round some gadget, all pounding it with their spanners (the charmingly unscientific building process), and when they step back your team has a full-blown frontline base. The build-order requires strategy: turrets are the most useful to your team, but building dispensers first means you can build everything else more quickly, while teleporters bring other players to your makeshift base to protect you and push forward.

One class that does still work alone is the Scout. The poor, maligned, woefully underpowered Scout - or so he was. His rebirth is triumphant: he’s not just fast-running; he’s fast-jumping, fast-firing and almost impossible to stop. He’s perfect for a seasoned Unreal Tournament player, and not just because he can now double-jump. His main weapon is the Scattergun, a unique shotgun whose broad spread and impressive damage makes it feel a lot like UT’s Flak Cannon. It’s not really a question of whether you can pick off a Scout before he bounds past you: it’s a question of whether you can pick him off before he unloads a handcannon into your eyes.

TF2 only comes with six maps, but Valve’s trying an intriguing game mode on one of them, Hydro, to ensure it stays fresh. Territorial Control gives each team a home base and two of the four control points in the no-man’s land between. The game itself then decides which two control points are “in play,” and blocks the routes to the rest of the map. Once one team takes the enemy’s point, the game chooses again, trying to avoid having the fight play out over the same routes and areas.

But it’s still the classes that excite us most. That selection menu is like a box of chocolates - you’ll eventually have a firm favorite, but each one has something uniquely delicious about it. They’re so different that at times it’s like you’re all playing different games: the Engineer’s doing his RTS thing over there, the Scout’s playing a bunny-hopping deathmatch game behind, the Spy’s going all Hitman, and those two Pyros circling each other with their curling tongues of flame down there - well, we’re not entirely sure what they’re playing. They might actually be dancing.

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