Team Fortress 2 - hands-on

Hopping over to the Demoman class turned it into a different game again. Turrets and teleporters were now somebody else's problem, and it was our job to load control points with pipe bombs before heading to the frontline. The Source Engine's physics capabilities allow for some interesting ways to kill people with grenades, and when the train yard you're fighting in sees more than a few speeding trains thundering through it, the sight of somebody evading your explosives only to be hit by an oncoming train is as thrilling as it is frequent. And of course, the pipe bombs we'd left back at the control point could be detonated as soon as the HUD showed it was under attack.

Quite clearly, the classes in Team Fortress 2 are more than just different weapon loadouts - they're drastically different ways of playing the game.

On the next map we found our class niche as a Sniper, quickly noticing that staying zoomed in increases the power of your shots. More than a few times we killed somebody in the same instant that they killed us, resulting in the camera cutting to the cluster of gibs who'd delivered our fate. There was the occasional ragdoll Scout being blasted across the screen by a lucky grenade, and a paranoia-fuelled Spy hunt in which several innocents were mistakenly targeted.

It's in these moments that the reasoning behind the vibrant Disney-esque visuals becomes apparent, and you realize exactly why Valve ditched the realism in older builds of Team Fortress 2. It's because it's an incredibly funny game, and there's no point trying to fight that on any level of design, from the visuals right down to the broken bottle melee weapon.

On top of all this, Team Fortress 2 simply feels like a really solid online shooter. The running speeds, the jumping, the weapon balance - from what we've played, it's all absolutely spot-on. Valve is building on over a decade of experience, and as we're sure you've noticed, their back-catalog of online shooters contains some of the most played games in existence. For them to get something fundamentally wrong with Team Fortress 2 would be damn near impossible (knock on wood).

Steve Hogarty

Steve Hogarty is a London-based freelance journalist covering games and technology. His bylines have appeared in publications including GamesRadar, The Independent, Yahoo, VICE, Eurogamer, and more. He is also the co-host of the pocast, Regular Features.