So what is the big deal? I see so many folks making a huge fuss over the Steam Machine, which for all intensive purposes is – a console – the one thing that PC Gamers for years have said is the best thing about the Steam platform; that it wasn’t a console. Keep reading for contest details (more…)
The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality head-mounted display presently designed to give a full, immersive 3D experience to games that support it on PC. This year, PAX Prime played host to the Rift’s manufacturers, Oculus VR, to demo the product to showgoers. The demand to see the Rift was unreal as lines were seemingly capped the moment the show floor doors open each day, for the entire day. After managing a place in line to wait and see this hyped piece of technology, other showgoers leaving their demonstration express their satisfaction with the device, pushing the hype up even further. It starts to feel like maybe the folks done with the rift are just riding the Expo high that comes with seeing and experiencing new technology before anyone else gets a stab at it.
But then my patience paid off. I was nervous at first, putting the headset on. There was so much hype and buzz even in the line itself; would the Rift live up to the hype? It was the moment of truth.
Personal experience? The Rift is incredible. I could hardly believe what I was seeing because it felt like I was in an entirely different place; the display itself lacked the normal immersion detractors that pull the user away from the experience, like seeing the edge of the screens, or having the overlap that normal 3D displays suffer from creating a duplicate image in your field of view. It felt like I was seeing through the eyes of another. I was instantly sold.
The display itself differs pretty wildly from kind of 3D most consumers and gamers understand, as the 3D used in displays, theaters, and even the Nintendo 3DS uses a form of trickery to accomplish its effect. The two separate images are displayed (usually interlaced) at alternate angles to deceive your eyes into thinking they’re seeing separate images, creating the 3D effect. The Rift actually displays two entirely separate viewpoint images, in separated viewing regions, giving each eye an entirely different and uncompromised field of view. This can create an unparalleled level of immersion for the user, giving the sensation of placing the user into the game, virtually.
As far as VR headsets go, this is a fairly standard order of business. What ISN’T business as usual though, is the size of the viewing region for each eye and the ultra low-latency head tracking the device is capable of. To put things into perspective, go to a Best Buy, or any electronics shop where they have a Kinect sensor set up, assuming you don’t own one of these fine pieces of technology for yourself. Play any of the trials set up at the demo and take note of the delay between the on screen interaction and your movement. Now imagine that delay almost completely eliminated. This is what the Rift offers that really sets it apart. That and price, as in actually being more in the realm of gamer and consumer affordability.
Presently, the number of games supported by the Rift are small, but growing; Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life 2 were the first two to offer full support, but a larger list of titles that do (or will) support the Rift can be found here. A number of studio heads and big names have come out endorsing the rift, including the co-founder of id Games, John Carmack, and with good reason to. Couple the Rift with another fledgling product, the Virtuix Omni, and you create an environment that feels familiar but wildly exciting in a new way because there are even less barriers between the user and the worlds they love.
Many have heard news of the Cold Stream DLC recently available on Xbox Live. Perhaps you’ve heard of Mutations becoming available on demand, or how this new campaign map has been available on the PC for free for quite some time. If you love your Xbox and Achievements, then you may be asking yourself whether or not it’s worth putting money into Microsoft’s pocket just to pick this up. We’ll get to that question in a moment, but first there’s something you ought to know: this DLC is slightly broken.
To go over briefly what might have been missed, Cold Stream is a three chapter campaign map that exists outside the actual Left 4 Dead story cannon. Created by the PC community, the map underwent extensive beta testing before its general public release. While you might gripe about the fact that PC gamers can now play it for free, if you’ve chosen to dedicate your gaming time and resources exclusively to the 360 then Valve at least tries to make the 560 Microsoft Points price a little easier to swallow.
Presuming you have all the previous content, buying Cold Stream actually gets you a great deal of “things.” Arguably though, those things aren’t really worth it. To start off, although the Cold Stream campaign is good fun, as mentioned before it is a sadly short three chapter affair that won’t take a huge amount of time to complete. The finale of it also feels overly familiar, coming too close to The Parish’s campaign conclusion of racing across a bridge to, “get to da choppa.”
Of course, that’s assuming you get the game started at all – mysteriously, the failing dedicated server issue has returned. When L4D 2 originally released, Valve claimed that the reason dedicated servers didn’t work (and you were forced to use the local server option) was due to the large number of people suddenly playing the game. I do not believe that a significantly larger number of people also bought and played Cold Stream, to the point where gamers experience the same old issue. I’m more inclined to think that Valve just has trouble making multiplayer work on the Xbox. This suspicion is supported by the fact that even though the original L4D maps are included here, during one of my playthroughs on Death Toll the game just mysteriously reset itself (though the bug did not replicate on the second try).
There also seems to be continued trouble with the Achievements themselves, which in this instance is a significant factor when you consider that the Achievement version of the DLC is the one you actually have to pay money for. Specifically, you would think that playing through an old campaign map with the original survivors would net you the points for killing a tank with damage exclusively from that group, but no such luck (even with The Passing installed). Maybe Valve never intended for this to work, but with the previous history of Achievements actually being broken in L4D DLC, it seems a valid question.
Even when the old maps work, the other thing you need to consider is that they were never actually designed for the style of game that L4D 2 employs. All the extras like new special infected and weapons are available in the original campaigns, but the way the game worked previously was that it gave survivors opportunities to hole up in buildings, back into corners and fight off hordes of zombies while waiting for doors to open or rescue to arrive. L4D 2 actually implemented Spitters, Chargers and Jockeys to punish players in static positions, and provided these sort of panic, run-for-your-life moments with the intention of preventing you from sitting in a closet with four shotguns, waiting for a flaming tank. Consequently, throwing those new special infected into the old maps makes their powers seem all the more brutal. It is an imbalance in the difficulty that not everyone would call welcome. (Imagine how frustrating a Charger can be inside the corn fields at the end of Blood Harvest.)
With the full content of the DLC itself not faring so well, the final piece to address is whether or not it is worth a purchase. But rather than simply judging that entirely on the stability of the game or the value of its entertainment, you unfortunately have to consider that this DLC (along with the other two previous releases) is available for free on the PC. Also, you have to consider the fact that buying this one DLC pack doesn’t get you everything it has to offer. Let’s examine that statement a little further.
Included with the Cold Stream DLC on the 360 are all the maps from the original game. Sort of. If you want to play the No Mercy campaign, you’ll need to have paid your $7 to the Gates corporation by picking up the formerly released Sacrifice DLC. But hey, at least you’ll have access to all of the previous Mutation game modes when you buy Cold Stream. Sort of. If you want to play all of those on demand, you’ll also have to have paid Billy-boy another $7 for The Passing. So for $21 on the 360 you’d get three new campaign maps, access to all the old maps and all the Mutation games. For one dollar less on the PC you get all that, plus the actual Left 4 Dead 2 game.
If we were speaking exclusively in terms of whether or not you should pick this up for the Mac or PC, then obviously it’s a no brainer: it’s free. But when you put a dollar sign on it, it isn’t just an argument about platform preference, it’s an argument about whether or not this is actually worth $7. If your $7 got you everything, including access to all the mutations and all the old maps then, presuming the level of instability and bugs is the same on every platform as it is here on the 360 (which it isn’t), I’d cautiously recommend a purchase with the caveats below. But when you take away features and tell me I’ll have to pay even more to get everything Cold Stream has to offer, the answer becomes a resounding no.
If you’ve already sunk $14 into DLC for this game, and you are a die-hard fan still really interested in multiplayer access to a few more maps, and you don’t have a computer, then this is a better deal on a map pack than anything Call of Duty has ever offered. If you think that describes you, then you should buy Cold Stream (and you should also stop lying about whether or not you have a computer). But if you are a first time buyer and want to know whether or not this new campaign is worth the cost of the experience, then sadly no; it’s time for passing.
The Passing: The Passing was also nothing more than a short campaign, but it gave players a chance to revisit with some old friends. It breathed fresh life into multiplayer by providing a rotating set of Mutations that made matches more interesting and exciting. Cold Stream divided the multiplayer house, giving people too many options, across too many maps to make finding one specific combination possible. Cold Stream creates half-empty lobbies of players who couldn’t agree on whether they wanted to play a game where all special infected were Hunters, Jockeys, Spitters, Boomers or Tanks.
The Sacrifice: The Sacrifice gave everyone a chance to finally pay Bill back for all the times he stood facing the wrong direction while we got in-capped by a Smoker, healed us when we were only missing thirty points of life, or failed to follow us past a point of no return before getting pounced on. There’s not a single L4D player around that wouldn’t have paid good money to kill Bill. Now Cold Stream comes along and forces us to remember why. To me, that just seems like poor marketing.
I was less than five years old the first time I (unintentionally) set the house on fire. I tell you this so you might understand why, with all the great Team Fortress 2 character videos out there, I’ve been waiting for this one. Valve has released the last of the “Meet the Team” videos for Team Fortress 2. There’s another announcement from Valve as well, but let’s get to the good stuff first.
As part of this release Valve has also announced the beta for Source Filmmaker. Source Filmmaker is the technology that Valve has used in creating all the “Meet the Team” videos. Now it will be available to anyone with Steam. Here’s the announcement from the website.
The Source Filmmaker (SFM) is the movie-making tool built and used by us here at Valve to make movies inside the Source game engine. Because the SFM uses the same assets as the game, anything that exists in the game can be used in the movie, and vice versa. By utilizing the hardware rendering power of a modern gaming PC, the SFM allows storytellers to work in a what-you-see-is-what-you-get environment so they can iterate in the context of what it will feel like for the final audience.
To celebrate the announcement of the SFM, we’ve also released ”Meet the Pyro”, the ninth installment in the “Meet the Team” series. Like all of our animated shorts, we made it using the SFM.
If you’re interested in making movies and games in parallel, sign up for an SFM beta key and start shooting your movie on location inside the world of TF2 today.
Just one more reason to love Valve.
I know that screenshots and concept art aren’t the most exciting of news items but this story is a bit different.
Today, some supposed concept art of Half-Life 2: Episode 3 has made its way onto the net.
Somehow optained by unofficial site ValveTime, there are thirty-two images that show various new Alyx designs, Gordon Freeman in cold weather clothing and a few concept pieces showing the Resistance chopper crashed in the Arctic. It was made clear that these shots are supposedly from way back in 2008 and may not be representative of how the game looks now.
Of course they are.
For now we’ll take this with a huge grain of salt. But something tells me Valve won’t be commenting on the validity of these concept images any time soon.
Check out the gallery below.
Free to play games are all the rage these days as popular titles like League of Legends have definitely shown. Valve is throwing their own hat into the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) ring with the upcoming Dota 2. The game has been in closed beta for awhile now and Valve has now officially confirmed that the game will be free to play.
With news of the pricing structure also comes the announcement of the Dota 2 shop. The pricing structure for the game will surround buying items through the shop, items both from Valve and from community members similar to how Team Fortress 2 works right now on Steam. Valve has also stated that no heroes will not be locked off, a good sign for people who are interested in the game.
Dota 2 is currently in beta but you can purchase the Early Access Bundle available right now for a nice bunch of premium items as well as access to the closed beta. Valve hopes to launch Dota 2 later this year.
Can you believe it’s almost that time of year again? The Electronic Entertainment Expo, the biggest event in the gaming industry, is set to begin on June 4. What started out as nothing more than a way for publishers to show retailers their upcoming products in an attempt to win shelf space for the upcoming year, has turned into a all-out spectacle full of big game announcements, non-stop trailers, opportunities to catch whatever flu is hot at the moment and booth babes. Lots and lots of booth babes.
I’ve been watching E3 for the past few years now and have gotten used to the routine of things. Let’s go through this year’s show. Microsoft will probably open with footage of Black Ops 2 being played, talk way too much about Kinect and then close their show with Halo 4. Sony will use about half of their conference time talking about Vita and how it’s in it for the long haul and then they’ll show off their Super Smash Bros. ripoff game, Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale, being played on the system. At some point during the Expo, no-brainer sequels like Dead Space 3 and Battlefield: Bad Company 3 (whose beta will be probably be bundled with Medal of Honor: Warfighter) will be announced. We’ll be seeing a lot of Resident Evil 6 and Assassin’s Creed 3 during the Expo and Nintendo will show off a Mario game for the Wii-U.
Still, I’ll be watching every second hoping that there will be a surprise game announcement, something few people actually saw coming. Even if it’s the smallest clip in a montage of trailers. That game exists. Those are the best and most exciting moments of E3 to me. Unfortunately, they are also becoming the rarest.
Here’s my list of games that I would love to see announced. Some are more likely than others but all would qualify as a top moment of E3 for me if they were to be shown.
Gears of War: The Pendulum Wars
With Gears 3 neatly wrapping up the story of the war between the COG and the Locust Horde, this prequel seems like the most obvious way for the Gears franchise to keep going. With Halo 4 releasing this year, Microsoft is going to need a blockbuster game to sell next fall. The seventy-nine year conflict between the Coalition of Ordered Governments and the Union of Independent Republics over imulsion would be perfect for another Gears trilogy. Now that Epic Games proper is working on Fortnite, maybe internal studio People Can Fly (who previously worked on Bulletstorm) could work on this prequel trilogy.
Likelihood of happening: 70%
Metroid Prime HD
This might not seem as that much of a surprise announcement to most but Nintendo doesn’t seem to be that confident in the Metroid franchise at the moment. There was that abomination of a game, Metroid Other M, so that might be expected but what about the lack of a 25th Anniversary rerelease of classic games in the franchise ala Mario and Kirby? There’s even rumors that the next Metroid game will be a mashup with the Star Fox series. That is disappointing. We know Retro Studios, the developers of the excellent Metroid Prime series, have been working on something since they finished work on Donkey Kong Country Returns. Hopefully, it is a glorious HD continuation of the Prime series on Wii-U. Imagine how great that would look with all the HUD clutter moved over to the Wii-U tablet controller. If Nintendo announces this, they can have my money for the Wii-U. But you never can tell what Nintendo is really up to.
Likelihood of happening: 50%
Left 4 Dead 3
Look, at this point I’m not going to even bring up Half-Life 3. Valve released Portal 2 last year and has to be working on something else besides DOTA 2. While some thought the one-year gap between Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 wasn’t long enough to warrant a complete sequel, I felt the fundamental gameplay differences between them did. It’s been over two years since L4D2 released and I’m ready for more. Maybe we’ll get six player co-op this time or even a PS3 version with Steam support. Maybe a combo pack of the original two games hitting PS3. Either way, anything on the Left 4 Dead franchise would be a welcome surprise to me.
Likelihood of happening: 30%
Mirror’s Edge 2
Dice can do so much more than just the Battlefield series. They really proved it when they released Mirror’s Edge. This first-person-running game, for lack of a better term, was the first game ever to actually get me motion sick but I loved it! It was completely unique and unlike anything I had ever played. While DICE was involved with the multiplayer portion of Medal of Honor, it’s sequel Warfighter is being solely developed by Danger Close Studios. With Bad Company 3 probably set to release next fall, DICE could have a small team working on a sequel to Mirror’s Edge. The original sold over two million copies worldwide so there is some reason to be hopeful.
Likelihood of happening: 20%
You know that feeling you get when a favorite TV series of yours gets cancelled and doesn’t get a proper finale? That’s the feeling that Shenmue fans have been living with for quite a while now. We found those pesky sailors and forklifted like there was no tomorrow but never got our revenge on Lan Di. Now I realize this is the most unlikely game to get announced but I really don’t understand why. It’s not like Sega is just flooded with hit franchises at the moment. The original released on the Dreamcast and the sequel came out on the original Xbox here in North America. Those games would be perfect for HD remakes leading up to the release of the finale in the trilogy.
Likelihood of happening: 2%
So there you have it. If any of these games get announced at E3, it will most likely be a high-point of the expo for me. What about you guys? I would love to hear what games you hope get announced or what surprise game announcements you still remember from E3′s past. Just leave those thoughts in the comments and stay tuned to Talking About Games! for E3 coverage in the weeks to come.
The past week has been quite a treat, with several high profile games releasing. On Talking About Gamers we are lucky enough to spend an entire show talking about nothing but new games. Join Robbie, Jason, Kyle, Addam and Samantha as we dive into these blockbusters.
First on the list is Max Payne 3. We discuss whether it lives up both to the Rockstar name and the quality of the old Max Payne games. Then we move onto a title that has stolen the attention of most of the crew by digging into the world of Minecraft. We do our best to explain how a game that really isn’t about anything can be one of the most addicting games ever. Of course the show would be empty if we didn’t discuss Diablo III and we talk about both the game itself and the nasty launch problems. We also get a chance to hear a comparison between Diablo III and the Torchlight II beta. Last, but certainly not least, we discuss the recently released Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative and Addam regales us with how brilliant Valve truly is.
Thank you for listening and please enjoy Talking About Gamers Episode 135.
The Talking About Gamers podcast can be found in iTunes and the Zune Marketplace. Please leave a review there or to provide direct feedback feel free to send an email to email@example.com. You can hit us up on Twitter at @talkaboutgamers and find us on Facebook as well.
Portal 2 was definitely a success for Valve. It received tons of critical fame, numerous game of the year awards and was generally loved by fans. Valve is continuing on their promise of free content for Portal 2 by revealing the next release, the Perpetual Testing Initiative.
This new DLC is basically a fancy way to say “map editor.” The DLC will come with the ability to make new puzzles without ever leaving the game. It will also incorporate Steam Workshop for downloading puzzles. Steam Workshop has been previously used with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and is a great system that allows gamers to easily find and install new content with only a couple clicks.
The Perpetual Testing Initiative will be released for PC and Mac on May 8. There is no word on whether the console versions will see something similar in the future as well.