Fortress Today: A Review of Fortress Forever

by Hober Short

With my humble host posting movie reviews, I thought I’d give my take on the freshly-released Fortress Forever.

With Valve releasing Team Fortress 2 as a stylized re-imagining of the original Team Fortress Classic, some people in the fan community decided it would be awesome to have a relatively faithful simple graphical update of TFC. And that’s what they’ve done.

It’s no simple matter, as it may sound, to completely recreate a game that has become beloved to an entire generation of gamers. But it is possible. Over many long years, these guys have worked and have produced a final (?) product with eminent polish.

When Valve announced that they were going to release a beta for TF2 on the same day that FF was going to be released, the FF boys kicked it into high gear and shipped out a “beta” that beat TF2 to the punch by a full weekend of mayhem. I only put “beta” in quotation marks because this mod holds all the polish and richness of a 1.0 release. In all of my time playing, I’ve only noticed one occasional bug, no crashes-to-desktop, and certainly no easy exploits.

But more than just updating the graphics, the developers of FF realized that their project is, in essence, a grand form of fan service which would reward long-time players. With that in mind, they found that they also have the opportunity to fix problems where Valve went wrong. The best example of this is the teleporter pad which was added in a content patch, which allowed the engineer to lay down matching disks on the ground, which were connected and would transport the user to the other pad.

And everyone hated ’em.

So FF is also an endeavor in revisionist history. Not only do they pretend that the teleporter pad never existed, but they also have implemented improved mechanics for things such as bunny hopping and rocket jumping. These last two, especially, are gestures of good faith to the near-decade-old fan community who would only give this mod one shot. But that’s all this game needs.

Full of little nice features like customizable crosshairs and HUD improvements, this game reeks of the semi-futuristic style that the original capture so well. But it also takes things a step further. Although the scoreboard still lists the number of enemies you’ve killed and the number of times you’ve died, the rankings are done by “Fortress Points,” an arcane currency that is accumulated for heroic feats such as reducing an enemy to gibs and assisting in another’s kill. It also serves as a way to finally reward the Medic class for it’s long hours spent healing people instead of racking up kills.

All of that said, the game could use a little tuning, it seems to me. Some abilities feel a bit on the short or long side in terms of power. For example, the Soldier’s rocket launcher feels immensely powerful, and often beats out the Pyro in close-quarters battle, despite the Pyro’s use of a flamethrower. Another case in point would be the Engineer’s sentry gun. One or two grenades can kill a sentry, but the sentry can kill almost on sight; it seems an extreme disparity. But that’s how I see things, from my position behind the sniper scope.

Every mod has a different development cycle. Some mods, like Insurgency, release what they freely admit is a beta, and will be full of bugs. All the same, it’s a fun mod, and I’m glad the devs released the version they did. The FF guys decided to work it the other way, and released a game that, despite being an initial release, feels like it could go gold today. Sure there will be patches, but at this day in age, any multi-player game will have those. What this has that other games doesn’t is a multi-player experience I have not enjoyed since the days of yore playing TFC after I got home from middle school. It is a welcome renewal of fragging goodness.

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~ by Hober Short on September 17, 2007.

One Response to “Fortress Today: A Review of Fortress Forever”

  1. Hmmm looks likes I needs to try this out. By the way Hober welcome to the Den. And a very nice way to start off!

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