One of the reasons I usually play older games is because new ones tend to be way too expensive. $60? No thank you, I'll just stick to my $20 copy of Grand Theft Auto IV. By picking up older games or sales on Steam, I can save a little money while still getting some quality gaming time. It works out.

However, there is a price that's even better than a discount- free. Steam has a section of games labeled "Free to Play," titles that let you access the majority of their content without any cost. You know, in case that wasn't stunningly obvious from the title. FtP games might have extra cool bonus items that cost money, but the main game itself is still free. The real problem for me was that I didn't really recognize any of the FtP games. Except for Team Fortress 2.

Several members of GIO, most notably our own Saint, have spoken about Team Fortress 2 in very positive terms. However, I didn't really have any idea what the game was about or whether I should download it. If TF2 had cost money, it probably would not have made its way onto my PC. Thankfully its attractive price of zero dollars pushed me over the edge toward "purchase."

I'm glad it did. Team Fortress 2 is cool on multiple levels and totally worth downloading. Quality-wise, TF2 is a Call of Duty/Battlefield-level multiplayer shooter. It's possibly better, depending on how you look at things. I definitely prefer Team Fortress to other shooters. There are a number of reasons behind that, most notably that endlessly attractive free price.

The gameplay itself is uniquely compelling. For those uninitiated, Team Fortress 2 is a class-based competitive multiplayer shooter. At the start of a match, you pick one of nine radically unique classes. These classes are split up into archetypes like Spy, Pyro, Sniper, Scout, and Medic. The set classes are sort of like Star Wars Battlefront, if you ever played that back in the golden days of the PlayStation 2. I really enjoyed Battlefront... thus my affinity for TF2.

The class system is the genius of Team Fortress 2. Valve mentioned in an interview with Game Informer in 2008 that they (Valve) noticed something interesting about multiplayer games. People liked to play competitive shooters, but not everyone had the twitch reflexes necessary to do well. They weren't bad players; their skills were just in a different area. Out of that observation the classes of Team Fortress were born. The idea was to create ways to play where you could help your team without being "in combat." Non-traditional classes like the Engineer and Spy are exactly that.

And let's be clear about this- you are nothing in Team Fortress without your team. For the love of god, "team" is in the title. The classes are designed to support each other. Each soldier has an advantage and a weakness. The idea is that a good team emphasizes their strengths while covering each other's weaknesses- TF2 is unequivocally not a game for lone wolves. Playing like you're in Call of Duty and focusing on your kill/death ratio is a great way to lose every match.

Really, though, being able to play as defensive classes is a nice addition. I don't play much competitive multiplayer. My twitch reflexes in Call of Duty are not that great. However, in TF2, I can play as the Medic and still really help my team without firing a single shot. A good Medic is essential in any match. I don't have the reflexes to compete in Call of Duty, but I can finish near the top of my team's leaderboard as Medic in Team Fortress.

That's mind-blowing. Not every competitive shooter is that rewarding of support players. Call of Duty sort of incorporated this focus on defense for Modern Warfare 3, but Team Fortress easily surpasses it. The whole class system is pretty well balanced. In my admittedly short time playing, I haven't seen any class that's too overpowered. The balancing in this game is dead-on.

In the end, the thing that matters most isn't the class system or the development or whatever. The most important part of Team Fortress 2 is that it's a whole lot of fun. I'm not much for multiplayer, but Team Fortress stands apart as something unique and enjoyable. Plus, you know, it's free.

What do you think? Have you played Team Fortress? If so, what's your preferred class?