Oh No Team! Part -4: The Idiot

So I finally get Team Fortress 2.

(By “get”, I of course mean, “did best at”.)

ME! LOOK IT'S ME!Clearly lots of people had left by this point.

Let me be straight with you. While the FPS is right up there as a favourite genre, and while I play every single player FPS I can get my hands on, I’ve never really had any time for multiplayer. Clearly for reviewing purposes I’ll play them, but for leisure? No interest. I’m not interested in being either beholden to anyone else, nor being let down by anyone else, and most of all, I’m not interested in sharing my hard work with anyone else. I’m a bastard that way.

With MMOs I find it’s different. Playing City of Heroes alone can be a rather lonely experience. Team up, with a good balance of powers, and it’s really rewarding. But it’s a game about constant progression, moving forward as a result of your efforts. That sense of narrative progression, for a reason I can’t quite pin down, excuses the game. This doesn’t change the fact, however, that I’d still far rather be able to play it on my own, and just get on with it my way.

The change of heart will follow.

I’m as ludicrously excited about The Orange Box as any red-blooded gamer, and cannot wait to get hold of Episode 2 and Portal. TF2… it wasn’t so much. I mean, wow, the screenshots looked amazing, and then of course, yes, the biog movies they’ve been releasing are fantastically funny. Both made me want to play it more than I’d expected. And when the beta finally went live, I was there that lunchtime to enjoy it.

But enjoy it I did not. I had a rubbish time. Whichever class I picked, whoever I shot at could apparently take 40 headshots without dropping, while I appeared to die of fear when they removed the safety. I couldn’t get anywhere because of some tedious camped sniper. The messages were flashing up all around me about the evidence being captured, dropped, recovered, and I didn’t have the faintest idea what the evidence was, let alone where it was. And the whole thing felt to me like playing the same minute-long section of an FPS, over and over and over, ad nauseam.


Experienced multiplayer FPS gamers must be wringing their own necks reading this. I imagine the other three here are sneaking up behind me as we speak with a spanner to collapse my skull. But I know I’m not alone in this sense of miserable bewilderment. And yet, today it clicked.

On my third go at the game, with the same group of people as the previous two occasions, it suddenly all fell into place. I stuck with my instincts of prefering the Scout (double jump, double jump), and learned to use him properly. After a brief moment of success with the Heavy yesterday, right at the end of the lunchtime session, I wondered if he might be the way forward. But no, that wasn’t my style, and even totalling some kills didn’t sell him to me. The Scout it was, and away I went.

The trick was, for the first go I was in there early with only about three on each side. I got in, took the evidence, and got it back to base with obvious ease. There was really no one around to stop me. But despite how simple it was, it gave me a rush. And that rush kept going as more people turned up. Soon the server was pretty much full, with ten or twelve a side, and there I was, still sneaking into the enemy’s base, still stealing the evidence, and still getting it back. I had my route worked out, I learned the weakspots, the points where people hide, and the corners to spring around. And in this, at long last, my decent FPS abilities were married with multiplayer gaming, and I was making some excellent shots. I was head-shotting with my shotgun by instinct, rather than considered aim. I was taking down Heavies. I was in the lead!

Ha! Got him too!

Beaten overall by PCG’s Tim Edwards on the other side, I still finished the hour of play second place to him, and with a decent lead in my own team. And no, it’s not all about points scored. We were also the winning side 90% of the time, and for the first time, a big part thanks to me. (Clearly thanks to others too – I’m not claiming to have been important here – simply exclaiming my surprise that I wasn’t bottom of the list, behind the person who signed in five minutes before I left).

I think the moment of realising I liked this game now was when I started screenshotting my deaths. Rather than yelling, “OH COME ON!” at the game in bemused frustration, I was grinning at how nicely someone had sprung a trap on me, or sighing contentedly at how close something had been. Or best of all, watching my opponent die from my last ditch shot.

Hello multiplayer FPS games. I’d like to come in now.


  1. MaW says:

    I’ve always felt much the same. It’s like people expect you to be really good immediately, to instantly understand everything and to have aim equal to Luke Skywalker’s in that bit where he blows up the Death Star, but you can never learn because the moment you peek out of cover (or even before then) you’ve got a bullet through your head.

    Also I always hated playing Unreal Tournament and watching everyone jumping around, trying to dodge. It looks silly, and never helped me one bit when I tried it.

    But I’m going to try TF2, and hope I can have some fun with it.

    By the way, I play City of Heroes solo quite a bit and have fun (you can do it with some characters), but you’re right that it’s much better in a good team.

  2. arqueturus says:

    When I used to play Quake 2 deathmatch I was instantly always at the top of the killboard. My mate, who had a great passion fof FPS death matching was absolute balls at it. His speciality was circle-strafing into peril, whether it was lava or rockets/grenades. He consistantly ended matches in negative figure but he had a great time, everytime.

    When Quake 3 was released I was absolute balls at it and never improved, especially with my weapon of choice, the Railgun. I gave up, never been back to it or any other fps seriously since. I’ve never played CS or HL2:DM so I’m hoping that TF2 will allow me to get back into online fps again.

    I miss my Quake 2 Railgun :(

  3. SCG says:

    I have a very similar approach to gaming – I like the narrative, I like the sense of progression, I like being part of a story with a proper structure. I enjoy multiplayer FPS games – to a point. Playing with friends is always a great laugh. Back in the day I played Quake 2 and Unreal Tournament quite a lot. But not so much since then.

    But TF2 has sold it to me. Or me to it. Either way, I’m happy. And I love the Scout as well – nothing as satisfying as sneaking behind people and taking out their medic, or executing a hapless heavy who can’t keep up with your speed.

  4. JH says:

    I’m in the same boat you were — except I’m not exactly enamoured of single player FPSs either (plodding through Bioshock right now, just to get closure on the story).

    I really like the *idea* of it more than the practice.

    But Portal looks ace, people are recommending Half Life 2 to me, so it seems like Orange Box is excellent value and I really hope things click for me with TF2.

  5. Alec Meer says:

    Blast, I wouldn’t have left, thus removing my hot Pyro action from near the top of the red team scoreboard, if I’d have known you were screenshotting.

  6. Briosafreak says:

    Will Porter with just one? He still didn’t find the Zone, that must be it!

  7. Feet says:

    The most interesting body part I have had pointed out to me was my liver. Must have been properly gibbled.

  8. Tim E says:



  9. fatty says:

    God dammit will you all quit talking about it!!! I liek my retail box’s so trying to wait until October and this bloody site isnt helping!

  10. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    Still on the fence with this one. What servers are you lot playing on? I may jump in and pre-order.

    Previous experience: Counterstrike CS and QW:ET demo.

  11. Turin Turambar says:

    Well, you came pretty late to the arena.


  12. The_B says:

    Welcome. You’ll never leave!

  13. Ghiest says:

    To be honest, I was right where arqueturus was. I was semi-proffesional quake2 player with good sponsors such as Intel and Razer (loved my free boomslang to death). We would do well in clanbase ect then Quake 3 comes along, and all of a sudden everything is differnt and I suck, and have sucked since.

    I’ve tried CS and struggle to even break even in kills vs deaths, Ive tried console gaming (which is even more laughable), I have the latest CoD4 beta where I’m max level but I’m lucky if i get a single kill in the match (usually get a couple assists though :P) and a few other FPS games (QW:ET ect) I still really badly get owned hard. I think it’s long gone the time when I had even a modicum of skill …

    Maybe FPS games are for the young these days as pushing 32 I can’t seem to keep up anymore :)

    I do intend to be trying TF2 as I’ve pre-ordered. and It’s possibly the last FPS I will play if i can’t even get ‘semi-skilled’.

  14. Jachap says:

    Well, that’s it. Purely due to your blanket coverage of this game (and the awesome US Dollars/Pound Sterling exchange rate) I’ve now pre-ordered The Orange Box.

    I wanted Team Fortress 2 anyway but all this… I just couldn’t stand it anymore.

    Consider this thanks in advance.

  15. Acosta says:

    You are not alone, I feel exactly the same (even share your thoughts about MMO).