Yesterday I somehow found my way into playing Team Fortress 2 again properly on my PC, despite only ever playing games on my 360 for the last 4 years or so. I felt like reminiscing a little about when I used to play games on my PC, and have been considering the possibility that I might well go back to PC gaming soon.
Way back when, I used to be a PC gamer – like, massively into PC gaming – and the only consoles I ever owned were a Gameboy, an SP, a SNES, an N64, a Gamecube, and then last but most definitely not least, an Xbox followed by my Xbox 360. (I’ve never actually considered myself a Nintendo fan-boy before, but after having written that sentence, I realize that deep down and perhaps subconsciously I must have been once! However after the Wii, I don’t think I’ll ever consider myself any kind of Nintendo fan again).
But back to the topic at hand, I used to be a serious PC gamer, and because of my choice of consoles growing up, my PC was obviously the main platform for any kind of seriously good games. Many a joyous gaming experience was had with the numerous PCs that passed through my gaming life, including the legendary Half-Life series, the entire Command & Conquer series, some highly addictive MMO’s like Planetside and Ultima Online, and not to mention all of the amazing cult gems such as the relatively obscure classic, Syndicate.
When I started University, I didn’t have the money to maintain my PC as an up-to-date gaming machine anymore, and it seemed so damn expensive that spending any of my student loan on keeping it top-of-the-line just wouldn’t make any sense. So what did I do instead? I got an Xbox 360 for Christmas and spent my loans on games for that instead! No more worries about hardware upgrades and poor performance anymore, so there were yays to be had all round! Of course, this was at the cost of paying nearly twice as much for every single game that came out for my 360 than I would have had to for the PC, as well as paying for my subscription to Xbox Live…
About 5 years after abandoning my PC for it’s main purpose as a gaming machine and using it only for University and animation stuff, I was convinced by Matt to purchase Team Fortress 2 on my existing – yet unused – account, while it was cheap during this year’s amazing summer offers, after which I also bought a whole bunch of other stuff that I won’t even be able to play until I upgrade my hardware again for the first time in half a decade!
Tentatively, I booted up my PC again for the first time in 6 months, downloaded and installed Team Fortress 2, and then clicked play.
Surprisingly, the processor, rubbish old graphics card (GeForce 6600 GT) and 1GB of ram are actually capable of handling the graphics and running the game at a just-about-decent enough speed. This is all thanks to the Source engine being around as old as my last upgrade of course!
I loaded up the game, joined a server, waited about 2 minutes for it to load up for the first time, and then there I was, choosing a character class and spawning in the ready room. I locked and loaded, and ran straight out of the room, guns blazing and bullets flying everywhere. What a blast! But then something went horribly wrong. The worst possibility I could have ever imagined…
I was totally rubbish at the game!
What the hell was going on?! I was running all over the place getting shot to pieces by anyone and everyone! Or at least it felt that way. Again and again I died, waited 10 seconds, then respawned. Die, wait, respawn. Die, wait, respawn…
What a completely infuriating experience I was having. I could barely get 2 kills per round! I tried as many classes as I could, spraying the map with the Heavy’s minigun, sneaking around as the Spy, sprinting through tunnels as the Scout, only to be too slow each time to either attack or defend myself against any of the clearly far more experienced players. ‘This must be a nightmare!’ I thought. I’m supposed to be GOOD at games!
On the brink of giving up and feeling like a total gaming failure, I selected the Demoman – one of the few character classes I was yet to try out. I ran around the corner of a large warehouse in the middle of the map, on the lookout in all directions for targets, then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted an enemy Engineer attempting to build up a sentry gun close to the enemy spawn area. With all my rage at being killed over, and over, and over, I opened fire with my grenades, forgetting just how good I can be with arcing, ranged weapons in games. BANG! BOOM! BUMPH! The Engineer splattered across the wall and the turret was now merely a smoking pile of twisted metal. What a great feeling! I had just owned somebody properly for the first time in this game after countless rage-inducing deaths against all of the other players. Two seconds later, I was stabbed in the back by a Spy. Oh well, easy come, easy go!
I’ve only put about two hours into it so far, but I have every intention of putting a lot more in too. This game – despite appearing to have a moderately steep learning curve for newcomers who are thrown into the fray as soon as they join – is certainly a ton of fun. The fast-paced shoot ’em up action in a team based setting with some really nice graphics and hilarious character commentary is just a blast from beginning to end, and not to mention the range of customization across each of the numerous character classes is just fantastic – though as far as I’m aware this is only the case due to a hundred or so updates to the game in the last few years, which have all added new content including guns, items, and character clothing for free, which – by the way – is totally the way the DLC should be for everything. Why pay extra for a few unlockable things in a game when it’s clearly already been made and is just sitting waiting to be unlocked?
I’m looking forward to getting back on Team Fortress 2 today, because I’m going to practice and practice until I’m at least able to reach the top bunch of guys in the high score table at the end of each match. Playing games with an Xbox controller for the last 4 years seems to have had an adverse effect on my ability to play games with a keyboard and mouse, but I’m certain I’ll pick it up again soon enough.
This may even be the dawn of a new era for my old PC! Or in less kind words, it’s probably going to have its insides ripped out, auctioned off, and replaced by some fancier, flashier new kit.
I can’t wait!