Today may be Thanksgiving, but over in Steamsville, it’s already Christmas. So, what’s under the tree? Damn near everything. For the next five days, Steam will be discounting different selections of games every 24 hours. So maybe the whole thing’s actually more like Hanukah, but we digress…
These aren’t just dusty old re-gifted games either. They’re fresh off the virtual shelf. For instance, right now, Batman: Arkham Asylum’s going for $25, and a whole mess of THQ games – including Red Faction: Guerrilla, Saints Row 2, and Dawn of War II – have been bundled together for only $49.99! But wait, there’s more! Dragon Age, Champions Online, Grid, Far Cry 2, and a LucasArts bundle have all dropped into impulse purchase territory, and with that kind of Death Star-sized tractor beam tugging at your wallet, how can you refuse?
You can’t – because even shop-lifting rarely produces prices this low. Penny-pinchers, it’s finally time to give your fingers a break. On the menu are your dreams, and it’s Steam’s treat.
Just a warning, though, Gabe Newell. You’re not the first somewhat rotund man to be extremely generous around December. Not that we’re complaining, but you’re stepping into Santa territory, and we hear jolly old Saint Nick has quite the legal team.
Everyone wants a piece of the direct-download pie. With apologies to our gaming columnist for inching onto his beat just a tad, I think that some intrepid gamer - or, better, an intrepid gamer-businessman - needs to put his finger in the swelling dike of direct download services before it bursts all over the Web and ruins us all.
Dramatic? Perhaps. The description is no less dramatic than my growing frustration at the inability to manage my downloads, multiplayer experience, and cash across the many platforms that exist on the modern-day "Gamer's Internet." In a perfect world, the various game publishers would band together and come up with a common solution-a universal iTunes, if you will-by which all could contribute core content, extras, add-ons, and share the costs of bandwidth, UI development, and communal matchmaking.
Team Fortress 2 is pretty great, but you know what would make it even better? Did you say “one or more zombies”? Yeah, us too. But instead, you’re getting a hat.
“For the first time in history, two separate Valve universes collide. That's right: it's a Left 4 Dead/Team Fortress crossover! This is not fan fiction! This is not a dream sequence! The characters from Team Fortress 2 will team-up with Bill's hat from Left 4 Dead 1!” reads a post on the TF2 Blog.
There’s a catch, though: Bill’s ridiculously regal Head Enhancement Item is only available to those who have preordered Left 4 Dead 2.
Honestly, though, to make such a strong fashion statement – nay, a fashion exclamation – we would’ve shelled out the full fifty smackeroos even if Left 4 Dead 2 weren’t involved at all.
It’s Halloween, and you know what that means: It’s Halloween… in your favorite videogames! Valve’s updated Team Fortress 2 in accordance with the vaguely pagan rites and rituals of Halloween, resulting in exploding pumpkins, new hats, and 666 new achievements. Ok, actually, there are only five new achievements, but we couldn’t resist.
In addition, Valve’s taken a king of the hill community map called “Harvest” and made a few changes. A few ghostly changes. They’ve added a ghost.
“That’s right! The restless spirit of Zepheniah Mann will scare senseless any player unlucky enough to cross his spectral path, rendering them temporarily helpless with fear!” reads the TF2 blog.
The update’s already live, so go ahead and knock on Steam’s desktop icon and say “trick or treat!” Or, if that sounds stupid, embarrassing, and pointless, you can also click on it, we guess. Enjoy!
It’s Tuesday! Woohoo! Oh, you’re wondering why we’re donning our party hats on this most mundane of days? Simple – the Left 4 Dead 2 demo’s available to Steam pre-orderers today! We’re just gonna queue up our download and… well, that’s odd. We’re sure the demo’s around here somewhere. Just, uh, hold on a sec. No, no – that’s Killing Floor. Hey, Valve, what’s the deal?
“The Left 4 Dead 2 Xbox 360 Demo is now available for those who pre-ordered and obtained early access to the demo," read a release from the company tonight. "The PC Demo is currently targeted for release on Wednesday, October 28."
Well, what are we going to do with all these party supplies now? Quick! Theme change! Now we’re celebrating, er, uh, Boss Tweed’s arrest on October 27, 1871. There’s something everyone can drink to.
If you just dropped a massive chunk of change on Doom creator id Software, what would you do next? Huh? Did you just say “Buy Valve”? No? No takers? Yeah, we’re not exactly waving our hands about and shouting “called it” on this one either. But, according to the latest stink-raising piece of scuttlebutt over at Eurogamer, Bethesda could very well be in the market for the house that Gordon Freeman built.
“However, it's also worth watching closely what happens to Steam in the coming months. Unconfirmed industry scuttlebutt suggests that Zenimax - the parent company of Bethesda, which made headlines back in June when it acquired legendary PC studio id Software - is still on the acquisition trail, and has been making eyes at Half-Life creators Valve across the bar,” reads the article.
We’ve contacted both Valve and Bethesda for comment, but so far, our questions remain unanswered. We’ll be sure to let you know if we hear more.
Sorry, Gabe Newell and co. You gave it your all, we’re sure, but in the end, Left 4 Dead 2’s true form proved too gore-splattered for Australians’ delicate palettes. Or at least, that’s how the Australian government sees it. Said a note from Australia’s Review Board:
“In the Review Board’s opinion, Left 4 Dead 2 could not be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification. The computer game contains a level of violence which is high in impact, prolonged, repeated frequently and realistic within the context of the game.”
“In addition, it was the Review Board’s opinion that there was insufficient delineation between the depiction of general zombie figures and the human figures, as opposed to the clearly fictional ‘infected’ characters. This was a major consideration of the Review Board in determining the impact of this game on minors.”
It’s true! We totally have friends who – if you squint really hard – are the spitting images of Boomers and Tanks. Oh, there’s also that one guy with the crazy-long tongue. But we don’t really talk to him. Wait. You say the Review Board was talking about "general zombie figures"? And here we thought our colossal, bile-spewing buddy had finally found a country that would accept him with open arms.
Ahem. Anyway, Australia’s still on track to receive a heavily censored version of Left 4 Dead 2, which is better than nothing, we suppose. Oh well. Aussie gamers, if our site hasn’t already been censored, better luck nex—[content blocked because we’re pretty sure it had a knife].
Is some Left 4 Dead 2 better than none at all? We’re thinking “yes,” but that probably won’t stop Australian gamers from wishing they could tear whoever censored Left 4 Dead 2 limb-from-limb.
See, while decapitation and dismemberment are apparently physically impossible over in Australia, neutering isn’t – as evidenced by Left 4 Dead 2’s sterilized state.
“The board notes that the game no longer contains depictions of decapitation, dismemberment, wound detail or piles of dead bodies lying about the environment,” said a note by Australia’s Classification Board. “No wound detail is shown and the implicitly dead bodies and blood splatter disappear as they touch the ground.”
Valve still hopes to eventually release an unedited version of the game as DLC in good ol’ Oz. That is, if it can find a way to sneak past the big, bag Classification Board.
For now, though, all those kangaroos, koalas, and Wizards Of are going to miss out on the Violence Orgy. But don't worry about it too much, Aussie readers; the violence was only there to hide the real meat of Left 4 Dead 2: the racism. Good thing the Classification Board missed that. It was so blatantly obvious to everyone else, too. Close shave, that.
A couple days ago, we published a chat with Gearbox Software’s main mouthpiece, Randy Pitchford. And boy can he talk. And when he talks the talk, other people get to talking too. Especially when Pitchford launches a few verbal volleys in Steam’s direction – calling it a “money grab” -- as he did in our interview. As a result, Tripwire Interactive (Red Orchestra, Killing Floor) president John Gibson has decided to fire back.
“Is Valve exploiting independent developers? In short: absolutely not. Without pulling any punches, I can say with certainty that if it weren't for Steam, there would be no Tripwire Interactive right now,” Gibson said, explaining that he believes Valve has “kicked off an indie revolution.”
“Randy's statements suggest that small developers are getting ripped off through their royalty rates. Without breaking any non-disclosure agreements, let me just say that our royalty deal was great, and is in line with what I understand that other digital distribution services are offering.”
“We have never had a situation where Valve downplayed our competing titles. On the contrary, they have done a great job of promoting our games on the front page of the Steam store and through the pop-up advertisements on Steam.”
Gibson also emphasized that all publishers find themselves awash in the murk of “conflicts of interest” at some point or another. “With console digital distribution, Microsoft and Sony have a complete monopoly on their platforms, and both companies make first party games. At least Valve has competition on the PC,” he added.
Gibson’s full response is available for your perusal over at Gamasutra. It’s definitely worth a read.
Zombies are nature’s griefers, it would seem. Or at least, they are if Left 4 Dead 2’s new “Scavenge” multiplayer mode is to be believed. See, here, the shambling jerks aren’t even looking to get their fill of juicy, succulent brains anymore. Nope. Instead, they’re actively seeking to knock out survivors’ power generators for -- what we can only assume to be -- fun. After all, if those pesky zombies were hurting for a heaping helping of brains, why wouldn’t they just chase down the survivors like always?
So here’s how it works: players are divided into the usual teams of survivors and special infected, just like in versus mode. Levels are littered with a grand total of 16 gas canisters, which survivors must collect in order to power a generator. The mode is played as a series of two minute rounds, though more time is added to the clock each time survivors manage to haul a can to their generator.
The infected team, of course, is out to make life difficult for the survivors by playing keep-away with the cans. Apparently, Spitters and Jockeys really shine here, as they can set cans on fire and “steer” survivors away from their objectives, respectively.
Left 4 Dead 2 will launch with six Scavenge maps – one for each campaign – on November 17. There's a video of the new mode in action here.