When Expectations Are Exceeded: Valve

Last week, EA held their big summer press event. When I saw the coverage start pouring in I turned a blind eye. EA, along with Microsoft are in my shit books and I really didn’t care to hear about their list of sequels that are coming out this holiday season. That is, until I saw Valve mentioned in one of the headlines. I had forgotten that Half-Life 2 is now published by EA and with Episode 2 on the horizon, I had to check in to see if there was any exciting news. What followed can only be described as a bombardment of awesomeness.

As promised, Half-Life 2 Episode 2 is still on track for fourth quarter of this year. Excellent! But that’s not all – it will be shipping for the Xbox 360 and PS3 along side the PC release. Now that is huge news! The first thing that crossed my mind is that it might be weird for console games unfamiliar with Half-Life 2 to pick up at Episode 2. Not to worry, Valve has us all covered. The console versions will include the complete Half-Life 2 experience. Half-Life 2 in it’s entirety, Episode 1 and 2, along with the long awaited Team Fortress 2 and a spiffy new single player game called Portal. Whoa, what? Seriously, all of that in a single package is quite possibly the greatest gaming bundle ever. I’ve already played through HL2 numerous times and Episode 1 twice, and I will most definitely be playing them through again on the Xbox 360. In fact, I can hardly wait to get my hands on it!

Team Fortress 2

Team Fortress 2

If you played the original Half-Life, you’ve no doubt given up all hope of Team Fortress 2 ever being released. After all, it was in development back in the late 90s and was supposed to be built on the HL engine. What was once forgotten has risen from the ashes in a new form that is sure to knock your socks off! Valve decided to go a different route with TF2, and instead of striving for realism, they’re bringing a comic book-esque feel to the table. At first, this might not sound all that interesting. That is, until you watch the trailer which is comprised of entirely in-engine (not pre-rendered) footage. Needless to say, it looks very much like Pixar’s The Incredibles. The characters are made up of exaggerated features and oversized weapons. Each with a physical appearance totally fitting to its class. And speaking of classes, all of the original classes are in tact in TF2.

Portal

Portal

A new comer to the Valve family and previously unannounced game, Portal will also be shipping with HL2 Ep2. From what is shown in the trailer, Portal looks to be a single player walkthrough/tech demo of some new technology that allows you to create dimensial walkways wherever you see fit, thanks to the help of a slightly modified gravity gun. Essentially, you are able to create an entrance and exit portal on any surface. Paired along side Steam engine’s fantastic physics, we’re left with endless possibilities and what is sure to be hours of fun. And speaking of – if you can’t wait to experiment with portals, you can get a taste in Prey. It uses portals (static, you can’t create them yourself) along with pads that when shot, change the orientation of the room. Makes for some pretty interesting scenarios. Be careful though, I was on the verge of tossing my cookies after getting a little too excited about them.

Cinematic Effects

Cinematic Effects

One thing I noticed in both trailers that didn’t seem to draw much attention were the “cinematic effects”. Previously, Valve released a trailer for Day of Defeat Source which showcased some fancy new effects they’re working on for the Steam engine. These effects would bring common visual effects that are seen in film like motion blur and depth of field to gaming.

So, here goes Valve, changing the face of gaming as we know it… again! We’re in for a treat and I’m fucking stoked!