Fortress Forever brings back the glory of TFC

Fortress Forever, a Team Fortress mod for Half-Life 2

Back in 1999/2000, I was still in high school, and thus had lots of free time for gaming. One of the biggest time wasters for me was Team Fortress Classic, better known as TFC. It was the first “true” online team game I played (besides CTF for Quake 2), and one of the first online games I got into after getting a high-speed Internet connection. It was simply loads of fun, and a testament to the power of the SDK for the original Half-Life.

Fast forward some six years. Team Fortress 2, the much-awaited successor to the original TFC, has gone through multiple development cycles and countless redesigns. Some believed it was pure vapourware, and that it would never see the light of day. Much to everyone’s surprise, we recently learned that TF2 was alive and kicking, and scheduled for an October release. Meanwhile, an ambitious but much lower-key project had been in the works for many years as well – it was Fortress Forever, a mod for Half-Life 2 that aimed to bring the glory of TFC to the Source Engine.

Nothing like retro gaming

According to the developers, Fortress Forever (FF) was in the planning stage of development even before the Half-Life 2 SDK was made available. That shows dedication – and the end result does to. Fortress Forever comes across as being very well-done, and a faithful recreation of the experience that TFC provided. If you enjoyed the original, you should definitely check out FF – especially since it’s being made available for free to anyone who has purchased Half-Life 2. Even if you never played TFC before, FF will still provide a nice experience.

FF continues the tradition of TFC by offering nine different classes, each with its own strength, weaknesses, and ideal style of play. If you like to just go out and shoot everything up, the Soldier or the Heavy Weapons Guy is for you. If you’re more into running the flag, Scout or Medic is a good option. Then there are special classes like Demoman and Pyro, which are good for causing chaos and confusion, respectively. The Engineer, able to build automatic sentry guns, is a staple of base defense, and the Spy is good when you need to infiltrate or take out an entrenched foe. And lastly, there’s always the Sniper for those large and open maps.

The team did great job of porting most of the original TFC maps over, as well as adding a few of their own. Not everything is perfect – some weapons animations look funky, but overall the experience is fun, fast and frenetic. If you’re tired of the seemingly omnipresent CS:S games, take Fortress Forever for a spin. If anything, it sets the bar higher for TF2.

Community support

Mods like FF demonstrate the professional quality that the community can produce, given the proper support from the game developers. Valve’s commitment to producing a high-quality SDK for HL2 (as was the case for the original Half-Life) has consistently given new life to the Source Engine, and has most definitely increased sales of HL2. The return from the SDK more than justified the time taken to develop it. This trend, which started back during the days of the original TFC, is one the best reasons for gaming on the PC, and has been beneficial to all involved.


I just bought The Orange Box, Valve’s latest compilation containing not only TF2, but Episode 1/2, Portal and Half-Life 2. (Which I already have) Though I have been playing Fortress Forever for almost a month, I think it’s time to try out TF2, the game everyone’s been talking about. We’ll see how it stacks up, but based on my preliminary experiences, it’s looking to be very good, and well-worth the $45 I spent on the pre-order version.

On a side note, this was the first game I’ve bought through a digital distribution system like Steam. The process was easy, streamlined and cost-effective considering the favourable US-Canadian currency conversion rates. Though I thought I’d miss getting an actual physical disc, game box and manuals, I recently looked over at my pile of games and realized I’d never actually read a game manual in years…

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