TF2: Blowing Up

In the last 24 hours, I’ve been involved in two more office Team Fortress 2 sessions. The first was apparently on the game’s anniversary of release or something: all the characters wore little party hats (on top of any other hats they normally wear), and, when killed, exploded into balloons and confetti.

As a result, I’ve given a serious try to two more character types: the Demoman and the Sniper. The Demoman, master of the grenade launcher, actually seems pretty bad for this small-team stuff. When there’s only three to a side, you spend a lot of time alone, waiting for your teammates to respawn, and the Demoman is essentially helpless when alone: the delay before his grenades go off means that he can’t really kill any but the most oblivious of victims. His value, it seems to me, is more in the threat of damage than in the damage itself — to limit the opponents’ options by placing obvious threats in front of them. I’m told that the use of grenades in real-life combat is similar — that the point of them isn’t so much to kill the enemy as to make them take cover or flee. Anyway, I found the Sniper much more satisfying, even though I’m rubbish at it. Although classified as Support rather than Offense, killing is all the Sniper does.

The first session left me wanting more, so after I got home, I tried running it on my home PC for the first time. Trying out the Developer Commentary tracks, I was alarmed to find that my machine spontaneously switched off, multiple times. This is an unprecedented problem. I’ve seen games exit to the desktop, freeze up Windows, and BSOD, but never just make the machine power off without so much as a beep of warning. Maybe the graphics card is drawing too much power or something?

2 Comments so far

  1. josh g. on 26 Aug 2009

    The balloons-and-hat thing may have had something to do with an anniversary when it started, but it’s just a server-side mod as far as I know. I’ve seen it running in various places regardless of what time of year it is.

    The Demo is a tricky one to get used to. It’s definitely true that his strength is in spamming larger numbers of enemies, but I’ve also seen people do crazy things with stickybombs in a one-on-one fight. It’s definitely harder, but depending on what class you’re facing it’s possible to play it well in smaller numbers.

    Alternately, go into ambush mode with the stickies. Fewer players means more time to set up your trap and hide.

  2. Carl Muckenhoupt on 27 Aug 2009

    No, the party hats were definitely bound to the date, not to a server mod. I know for sure because when I went home and went into Developer Commentary mode, the hats were there too, and I wasn’t connected to a server at the time. (Technically, my own machine was probably functioning as the server, but I definitely hadn’t installed any mods on it.)

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