Halloween apparently not only brings out the creep-laden mods of various first person shooters, but also the gamer dads, prepping for the inevitable week of candy-and-costumes by diving into their respective man-caves and a zombie-robot infested epic swarm match of Team Fortress 2, Halloween Style.
Unexpectedly, it took us a few minutes to get the game up and started. First there was the regularly unscheduled scheduling shuffle, involving trying to align the logged-in legion to the correct server. RoastBeef arrived first and dived right into a game, followed by Mr. Big Red who attempted to lure me into a Mann versus Mann match with a handful of scattered invites. My brother, toting the handle dSalo, logged in and informed me he was pumping the latest update through his narrow little bandwidth at that very moment and he’d be ready to play shortly. We waited, lost him in a random game for a few minutes, but with a bit of low-tech coordination were able to log our gamer dad quartet into a freebee server and launch some Mann versus Machine mayhem.
The second problem was that my voice chat was not cooperating.
To be sure, one does not just walk into the land of Team Fortress without a clear understanding of the nuanced need for clear and ever-present voice chat. This being my life-time total play count of… well… less than five… alas, but I am absolutely certain that the strategic-style gameplay, balanced with the never-waning need to coordinate resources and player-roles throughout the clash of man and machine, requires that at least one or two people are barking orders — or at least audibly mumbling them — into their headsets.
My mic was not playing nice. I mean, ultimately all it took was for me to pop the USB out of the socket and get it fired back up, but in a hail of bullets and virtual rockets playing around with a USB cable under the desk was the last thing I needed to be thinking about.
Sound problems resolved, we sunk into another fruitless battle.
In previous iterations our success seems to have been dependent on some solid support from our randomly assigned team-mates. It’s not that we suck, but it is very useful to have some diligently practiced fifteen year old sitting in his parents basement unknowingly lending a skilled and focused hand to the unseen collection of guys more than twice his age scattered far and wide and hiding behind the anonymity of multiplayer gaming networks and clever aliases.
Our randomly matched team-mates were not fifteen year old gurus of Team Fortress Two. One, in fact, was probably our compatriot in spirit, if not in nationality. He piped in occasionally with the wizened advice of a gamer roughly our own age and the accent of a down-under-esque bloke. He stepped up and got us through a few rounds…
…though alas, not enough.
We found ourselves a little out-gunned, but consistently so. In the spirit of the halloween season, the folks at Team Fortress dressed up the robots in angry and deeply aggressive layers of zombie, undead, and demon-type goodness. And rather than the standard “deliver the bomb” through short-but-brutal waves-after-waves-after-waves of robot mayhem, we got this: one giant, never-ending wave. One epic struggle through a power-blasting, spy-ridden, warrior-ninja-zombie-fire-blasting-robot attack, in a relentless push to sweep our very existence into the streets of the virtual ghost town we were defending.
I started out as a heavy, switched half way through to a demo-man (because I thought it might help) and then switched back to the heavy when the poor demo man was getting his grenade-launching ass handed to him shortly after running out of ammo each round. Erm… so, yeah.
See, we hit a bit of a wall. We’d clear out the first five-or-so robot sieges without much problem. We’d need to coordinate, of course. It took effort and strategic placement of some ammunition dispensers. But we got those first few groups down to a near-art form.
And then… then there was the arrival of the rocket robots. In one massive push, a dozen-or-so rocket-launching troopers stormed over the wall and delivered an epic smashing and crushing hellfire of destruction upon us.
No less than one dozen times did we fall to the mercy of this same checkmate of assault robot warriors, and all seemed rather hopeless.
On what would prove to be our last grand attempt we buckled down and tried once more: and luck. Pure, absolute, unadulterated luck. I was taken out, respawned, and taking up my standard defensive position I took a slightly different retreat and… and blink: a teleporter. I suddenly found myself in a strategically perfect position and I, as the projectile-blasting heavy, was able to pick off the hoard one-by-one with the sidelong assistance and firepower of my team-mates.
We crushed that particular siege and lived to push onto the next… and were shortly thereafter utterly destroyed by a trio of near-indestructible tanks and a well-placed sniper. End result: fail… but a good time and some solid practice, so who’s counting?
Feel like some super awesome gaming: request to join our Steam Group and clear your monday night calendar. Next week? Ah… if I don’t even know how am I supposed to tell you?
I\’ve got no affiliation with any of these games. Screens have been captured during my gameplay using Steam (press F12) and this is all just my random, amateur opinion. Share and Enjoy.