The “war”, or lack of it, is over. Our heroes have escaped, found comfort in each other’s arms. Was there ever any doubt that they’d do otherwise? No, not really, and I’m kicking myself for expecting the author to add in a little conflict at story’s end. The problem with eliminating conflict from a TF2 story, from any story, is that conflict is the meat in a sandvich: Who are the Team fighting? Why are they fighting them? What are they fighting for? In Cuanta Vida, these questions are answered simply with, “Love! Valour! Compassion!” but they aren’t elaborated on. The mistake that Thompson makes is not asking why the characters and situation of TF2 are the way they are. Why do the characters love the ones they love? Hate the ones they hate? Why were they fighting the war, and each other, in the first place? Money? Bloodlust? Recognition? Who even hired them? In Cuanta Vida, we aren’t shown this; we aren’t even given many of our leads names. Contrast Cuanta Vida’s lack of plot and characterization with “the most labyrinthine story in Valve history,” found in the media (including webcomics!) of a well-known videogame franchise: Team Fortress 2. The backstory: Death, undeath, and backstabbery. The plot: One maniac, Helen, rules the entire world with the help of her P.A. Miss Pauling, and the paid-for support of our anti-heroes, who serve as mere distractions for the two men Helen is playing for patsies. Our antiheroes are getting fed up with being treated in the same manner. The characters: Sure, all of ‘em love killin’, and none of ‘em give a crap about their bosses, but who could’ve guessed that Heavy is a highly literate girl-drink-drunk veteran of a gulag? That Scout has a thing for hot moms? (Well, Freud.) That Jane Doe has high tea? That Tavish Degroot has firsthand knowledge of the occult? That Dell Conagher likes fine art, and rooms with Pyro? That Medic isn’t a Nazi? That nearly all of these sociopaths, Spy and Mr. Doe in particular, have a soft spot for kids? And that’s not all. Medic could be Jewish. Pyro could be Dell’s robot. Who knows what Hidden Depths the characters might yet have to show?
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