Really, I'm done trying to gussy up this topic with fancy vocabulary and hyperbole.  Truth is, I've been meaning to write up some epic long explanation for why I love this game so much, and every time I sat down to crank it out, I ended up playing TF2 for 3-4 hours instead.

So as much as I adore it, there's no denying TF2 as the main culprit behind why I can't get any damn work done around here.  Other games have come and gone (Persona 4, in particular, sucked away a good two weeks of my life last month), but TF2 has endured as the one to fall back on when I've got some free time to kill.

And between non-demanding school schedules, summer breaks and sabbaticals, I've been blessed with plenty of free time.

But they say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Which works out nicely for me, because I really don't feel like writing all of those nasty little buggers.  Instead, here's my playtime history as of August 15, 2009:

TF2 Stats as of August 15, 2009

See?  Who needs World of Warcraft when TF2 is just as much of a timesink?  Plus I haven't paid a dime since release, so the savings must be upwards of 500% or something.  I'm not really sure why I felt the need to lay my hopeless addiction bare to the world like this.  Maybe it just needs to be documented.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined sticking with the same game for nearly two whole years.  All of those tasty free updates, full of new maps, weapons, and game modes are just icing on the cake.  My favorite map is still Dustbowl.  I could play that all day long, and probably have on a couple of occasions.  2Fort too.

Point being: the core gameplay is what kept me coming back for marathon sessions, even during those first months when no promises of additional content were to be found on the horizion.  And I didn't need any superficial experience points or unlocks just to fuel my desire to play.  It's just tremendously fun on it's own merits.

Shigeru Miyamoto put it best at this year's E3: "I'm not a big fan of the [dangling] carrots to motivate people to play.  I want people to play because they enjoy playing and want to play more."

The other main reason I'm mentioning this now is because while TF2 has sat pretty on my PC's hard drive as the only PC game I play anymore, I'm starting to hang my hopes on Borderlands as the one to finally dethrone it.

The two games are mostly incongrous, despite the similarities in visual style and genre, but that game peaked my interest from the day it was announced.  And I'm betting on the PC version because of the game's loot-whoring mechanics that are no doubt going to accomodate my OCD metality of maximizing efficiency with every gun and stat I can get my hands on.  … That probably sounded really confusing.

Actually, I'm just looking for an excuse to finally upgrade the PC to handle something other than Source-engine games.  Dragon Age looks pretty good too…

Wherever TF2 and I go from here, I can't ignore how much it affected my life throughout most of my college years.  It's practically all I did in college!  It probably ended up taking a few years off my lifespan in the process, but it's best not to think about such things in the short term.  Now if you'll excuse me.  Puny cart will not push self.