Years and years ago – probably long before any of you were born – Valve was known for this little series called Half-Life. Now, our memories are a bit hazy, but we think its story went something like this. Unfortunately, ever since the release of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, we’ve seen neither hide nor crowbar of Gordon Freeman. However, if a rumor from VG247 is anything to go on, Mr. Freeman could finally be rising and shining next week.
First, though, a little background info: Last week, Valve called off its E3 Portal 2 event and replaced it with a “surprise” that’ll take place sometime during E3. Five seconds later, the entire Internet decided Valve actually meant to say “Half-Life 2: Episode 3.” Except it didn’t. “It isn’t Episode 3,” said Valve head honcho Gabe Newell.
And he wasn’t lying. According to VG247’s source, Valve will instead draw back the curtain on Source Engine 2, which “may” be demonstrated running Half-Life 3. Not Episode 3. Just plain old “oh, so that’s why it took so long” 3.
And even if it’s not Half-Life 3, Source Engine 2 will probably be so beautiful and have such realistic facial movements that you’ll look in the mirror and wish God would’ve spent some more time mo-capping your expressions. So basically, it’s the difference between a win and a total blowout; either way, you come out on top.
You may not be able to name every bone in your own body or all 50 states, but we're willing to bet you're intimately acquainted with each and every component of your bleeding-edge rig. What about other PC gamers, though? How do their PCs stack up? Fortunately for you, Valve's decided to douse that burning question with its latest Steam hardware survey.
First off, Nvidia's still the preferred GPU manufacturer overall at 61%, but Radeon's HD 4800 has sprinted to the head of the pack as the single most popular graphics card. Previously, Nvidia's GeForce 8800 wore that crown.
Meanwhile, the number of users embracing newer tech like Quad Core continues to increase, with 25% of users rocking four CPUs. Fittingly enough, then, Windows XP – tried and true, yes, but also a bit on the old and moldy side -- is looking about ready to give up the ghost. Once the most popular OS, it now sits at a mere 33% – a sharp decline from January's 45%. Windows 7, previously in close second, now takes first with 35%.
Also of note: Mac users – who finally hopped aboard the Steam engine in March – account for 8% of overall users. Which is a great start, obviously, but we're wondering how many of them only showed up for the free cake.
And that's only the tip of the iceberg. If you're some kind of strange PC voyeur, put down those binoculars and click on that link. Valve's survey is ridiculously comprehensive, and well worth a look if you're into that sort of thing.
Hello there, non-existent reader! Yes, that’s right: you don’t exist. After all, you can’t. You’re reading this site, which means your rig’s probably a feral monster – more beast than machine – but this article caught your eye, which implies you don’t own Portal yet. To say that someone of that description exists – why, that’s just silly.
Let’s say, though, that hypothetically you’re a real flesh-and-blood human being. And you don’t own Portal because – we don’t know – you just came out of a coma or something. And you’ve spent every waking second reconnecting with your family or whatever. We guess that’s a valid excuse. If that’s the case, click here, and then give the big red button a press.
And presto! Now you own Portal, and you didn’t have to spend a dime. Wasn’t that easy? Almost as easy as changing the television channel or closing your Internet browser so you can—hey, wait!
Don’t get us wrong: Steam’s a wonderful platform built on a rock-solid foundation of functionality and excellent deals. We wouldn’t trade that for the world. But we’re also incredibly vain people, and we have to admit that – for a while there – we had to imagine other game platforms when we were in bed with Steam. Playing games. On our laptops.
Now, though, everything’s shiny and new again. Valve’s completely overhauled Steam, upping the platform’s geek chic factor with a brand new coat of paint. On top of that, the new Steam brings with it a slew of new features, which Valve has handily outlined here. The long and short of it, however, is this: a revamped friends list, a customizable news feed, a more functional achievement system, and a games library that you don’t need a GPS to navigate.
So then, if you haven’t done it already, make with the downloading. Well, unless you’re a Mac user. Then, according to Valve, you’ll be playing the waiting game for a bit longer. “Soon” is the official word. Let’s be honest, though: you’ve already waited for years. What’s another month or two?
You wouldn’t think of the zombie apocalypse as a time for togetherness and kind regard for your fellow man, but that’s exactly what it is. Think about it: between geographical distance and Francis’ vehement disdain for all things, the casts of Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 would’ve never even given each other the time of day – much less formed the kind of deep, tight-knit connections that can only blossom after you’ve scrubbed caked-on Boomer bile off each other’s backs. Left 4 Dead 2’s “The Passing” DLC, which is fresh out of Valve’s assuredly none-too-sanitary oven, is a perfect demonstration of this.
The DLC brings the original Left 4 Dead cast down to Georgia, where they encounter Left 4 Dead 2’s rag-tag band of survivors. In addition to what we’re sure will be all sorts of sitcom laugh track-worthy shenanigans and quips between the newly united parties, The Passing includes three new maps, the fallen survivor zombie class, the golf club melee weapon, a co-op challenge mode, and more. To top it all off, Valve’s rolling out new weekly game modes called “Mutations” -- like “Chainsaw Massacre,” which we think is pretty self-explanatory.
As with all things wonderful and good and from Valve (yeah, a bit redundant, we know) in this universe, The Passing is completely free. Just fire up Steam and the DLC will be waiting to infect your hard drive. Meanwhile, if you don’t own Left 4 Dead 2 yet and our previous chiding failed to convince you, Valve’s sprinkled the game with wallet bait again – this time dropping its price by 33%. So basically, whatever excuses you had last time… will still work, in all honesty. You’re only hurting yourself, though.
Gordon Freeman’s a bit of an odd duck. He’s fended off aliens, won the hearts of millions, and – most mystifyingly of all – graduated from MIT, all without making a peep. In this day and age of highly cinematic videogames, though, has the idea of a “silent protagonist” worn out its welcome? Not according to Valve’s Gabe Newell.
"We're not philosophically opposed to this, but we don't have any good reasons to do it,” Newell replied when asked if he’d ever consider unzipping Gordon Freeman’s lips. “Right now making your companions more interesting and compelling seems a more fruitful avenue to explore."
In addition, when asked if Valve has considered giving Gordon Freeman a better sense of “embodiment” – ala Mirror’s Edge – Newell stuck to his guns.
"We haven't had a reason to change that. Most of what I've seen to date has been gimmicky and is entertaining for just a minute or so."
Only in videogames can one of our greatest heroes be a mute disembodied floating arm. Well, unless we’re counting the Addams Family, anyway.
In case you need a reminder, we at MPC are pretty big Left 4 Dead 2 fans. In fact, if you were able to make it even half-way through our review of Valve’s fine-tuned take on cooperative zombie-slaughter without giving Valve a heaping handful of your money, well, we’re pretty sure you just hate being happy. Or, perhaps you made the mistake of wasting your precious funds on pointless causes like food and your family, and simply couldn’t afford Left 4 Dead 2. In which case, everything’s fine and dandy now, because Valve’s put the game on sale at the extremely attractive price of $24.99.
The sale runs from now until Thursday, and applies not just to vanilla Left 4 Dead 2, but also to any bundles that include the game. So basically, we recommend that you pounce on this deal like a starving, family-less guy who spent his last few bucks on Left 4 Dead 2 pouncing on free samples at the grocery store. Or something.
Valve also points out that Left 4 Dead 2’s eagerly anticipated “The Passing” DLC is coming sometime this spring, and will include – among other things – multiple brand new game modes. As in, more than one. Since Valve wrote that announcement in all caps, we’re gonna assume it’s a big deal. More details soon, we hope.
Seeing Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” on its opening night was a surprisingly illuminating experience for me. For one, I learned that – in my case, at least – introspection and trying to not get trampled by an ocean-like mass of 200 some-odd frothing, cosplaying fans are activities that go hand-in-hand. But as I watched/avoided becoming a doormat for a bunch of Wonderland wannabes, I realized something else: these people didn’t brave the cold (and the dark corners of their parents’ closets) because of their undying love for the timeless tale of Alice and her oddball companions. They did it because Tim Burton’s name was attached to the film. It could have been Tim Burton’s “Barney the Dinosaur” and they’d all have donned purple dinosaur costumes in a heartbeat.
I highly doubt that Infinity Ward’s planned not-Modern Warfare 3 project would’ve been received with such open arms. And evidently, so does Activision.
After all, former Infinity Ward bosses Jason West and Vince Zampella felt so creatively confined as to allegedly defy their contract with Activision and start making eyes EA, so clearly someone wasn’t exactly gung-ho about the Call of Duty creator’s bold new direction. Knowing Infinity Ward, though, regardless of the form the new project took, it probably would’ve been a fantastic game. So what gives? Well, at this point, I can only speculate, but money talks, and it’s telling me that Infinity Ward’s mystery game simply wasn’t a guaranteed mega-hit like Modern Warfare 3’s destined to be. Activision, in case you’d forgotten, likes money quite a lot.
We don't often post Mac-centric news (being primarily a Windows PC-based site and all), but every once in awhile, we can't help ourselves. This happens to be one of those times.
Valve yesterday announced plans to bring Steam, its gaming service, and Source, Valve's gaming engine, to the Mac platform.
"As we transition from entertainment as a product to entertainment as a service, customers and developers need open, high-quality Internet clients," said Gabe Newell, President of Valve. "The Mac is a great platform for entertainment services."
Valve said its library of games, including Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, Portal, and the Half-Life series, will all be available next month, though the company didn't specify an exact date. And these won't be run through emulation, but natively.
"We looked at a variety of methods to get our games onto the Mac and in the end decided to go with native versions rather than emulation," said John Cook, Director of Steam Development. "The inclusion of WebKit into Steam, and of OpenGL into Source gives us a lot of flexibility in how we move these technologies forward. We are treating the Mac as a tier-1 platform so all of our future games will release simultaneously on Windows, Mac, and the Xbox 360."
In addition, Cook said that Mac and Windows players will be part of the same multiplayer universe, so it will be entirely possible to settle the debate between PC vs Mac in head-to-head matchups.
In addition to the expected return of GlaDOS (she is “still alive,” after all) and an all new single-player mode packed with “devious test chambers,” Portal 2 promises a completely separate co-op campaign that has even the mighty collective MPC Megabrain crying in a corner just thinking about it.
Also, if GameStop's listing’s anything to go on, Portal 2 will probably be a fair bit beefier content-wise than its predecessor – at least, if it hopes to wear its suggested $49.99 price tag with pride and not shame and regret.
Unfortunately, that’s all that’s trickled out, for now. But hey, look at it this way: Gabe Newell has to pass the time during his GDC award acceptance speech somehow, and while thanking his family and God or whoever is great, it’s so passé. The solution? Portal 2 footage. This, of course, after he approaches the podium, grasps his award, leans in close to the microphone and whispers, “This was a triumph. I’m making a note here: huge success.”