The last column that I wrote on crossfire got more of a response than I expected, so I decided to write another just to see if anyone wanted to hear my opinions. It is a little long so bear with me.

Recently I purchased the blessing to mankind that is knows as The Orange Box. I bought this not just for the amazing new chapter in the Half-Life series, not just for the quirky puzzle game that I love to death, but also because I wanted to try out Team Fortress 2. As you might have gathered from my previous column, North American competitive ET is for the most part dead. Because of this I am looking for a new game to move on to, and I figured I should give TF2 a try because I was basically getting it for free. I must admit, I had never played the original Team Fortress or Team Fortress Classis, but I had heard about them from friends. I knew that TF had a reputation for being a very good game with a loyal fanbase, so I had high expectations for the game. I booted up Team Fortress for the first time and gave it a try.

The very first thing that I noticed as I started playing was this was nothing like ET. I figured the class-based system might make it ET-like, but that is about as far as the similarities go. ET is a game that requires precise aiming. With almost every gun (excluding the obvious example of the panzer) you must lock onto the head and aim exactly in order to pull off a nice kill. Most classes in TF2 hardly involve any precise aiming. The understanding that I gained from playing it was that the only time that a headshot ever really matters is when you are sniping. As I played for longer, I started to ask myself "is this really all there is to TF2?" When I go into a game I expect a learning curve. I expect that once I learn the basics, I can steadily get better and better until I have "mastered" the game. With TF2 there is almost no learning curve, -and no skill factor involved.

First off, is the learning curve. In regards to individual play, once you master the basics of the game there is not much further that you can go. In a game like ET, if you are a better aimer than another person you will win almost every time. In TF2 there is little skill involved in aiming. Let me explain to you what I mean by this:

-The first class is the pyro. It is just like the flamethrower from ET. No aiming involved

-Next is the engineer. His main ability is to set up turrets that shoot for him. No aiming involved.

-Next is the spy. His job is to turn invisible, or become disguised. After he does that he sneaks up behind an enemy and stabs him in the back. No aim necessary.

-Fourth we have the heavy. The heavy has a massive machine gun that has more spray than a sprinkler. As long as you are anywhere near an enemy with your crosshair you will ventilate him with wildly flying bullets.

-Next is the demoman. This is my favorite class. He has a gun that shoots very similarly to the Rnade in ET, but of course it takes multiple hits to kill someone. I like this gun because if you arc the shot so that the grenade actually hits your enemy, it explodes on contact doing a lot of damage. Some aiming, but it sure as hell isn't the same type of aiming you see in ET.

-Sixth we have the medic. His main job is to take out a big healing ray and constantly heal his teammates. He has a secondary weapon but it isn't even worth mentioning because it is so useless. He doesn't even need to shoot let alone aim.

-Seventh is the scout, and here is a class that might involve some skill. He is extremely fast and he is equipped with the weak shotgun that most classes use as a secondary weapon. If you can shoot while jumping around like a monkey then this class might be fun, but in my experience the scout has such a lack of health that he is pretty much raped on the battlefield.

-Eighth is the soldier who shoots big quake-style rockets. For quake players who liked rockets, this is a good class, but for someone who likes guns there is not much here.

-Finally we have the sniper. He is probably the most useless class in the game, but hey, if you get a headshot while zoomed then it is an instant kill!

There we have it, the nine classes of TF2. As you can see, not one has a gun that actually takes much skill to aim. I like a game like CSS, ET, Quake, or anything that has something remotely like a learning curve or aim factor. Further killing the process of aiming is critical hits. If you are shooting someone, and you get lucky, Boom! critical hit, and they lose. That's right, you get critical hits completely at random. I have heard some people say that this abomination might be removed in competitive TF2 play, so we'll see how that turns out.

Now you've heard my gripes, but I also do have some good things to say about TF2. While individual skill might not matter, team strategy and teamwork is extremely essential. While the learning curve for individual play might be low, the learning curve for teamwork can go limitlessly high. This game is so deep on team play, and the NINE classes help accentuate this. Imagine playing ET with 9 classes, that would make it a whole new game. For those who can bear to actually play this game competitively, I think it would be fun. The team element looks to be very deep and complex, but alas I will probably never play it competitively enough to ever experience this.

Finally, don't get me wrong, this is a good game to play for fun. If you are looking for a good time late at night, by all means boot up TF2 and have a little fun. If on the other hand you are looking for a game to play competitively, I would look somewhere else.

(I really hope there are no hardcore TF players on this site that I have just offended)