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Engineer to be Updated in Team Fortress 2

Valve recently announced an update to the Engineer class in its popular “Team Fortress 2” (TF2) title. Valve noted that this is the largest single-class update it has made for the game. The download will introduce new maps, items and achievements among other things.

The update is scheduled to be deployed between now and Thursday. Visit for additional information.

Valve also revealed that they will be issuing “Golden Wrenches” to TF2 players. Here’s a clipping from the press release:

“Every time Engineers “craft” (build) something in the game, they have a chance of getting a Golden Wrench. Every 25th Wrench awarded unlocks more info about the update.”

Visit to track the Wrenches found.

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Valve Announces Left 4 Dead DLC


Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Half-Life, Portal, Team Fortress, and Counter-Strike) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today announced a series of content and development releases for its latest title, 2008’s best-selling new game property for the PC and Xbox 360, Left 4 Dead (L4D).

The first L4D DLC – dubbed the L4D Survival Pack — is due for release this spring and introduces a new multiplayer game mode entitled, Survival, plus two complete campaigns for Versus Mode . A Critic’s Choice Edition of the game is also heading to retail stores this spring, and will include access to all the content introduced in the L4D: Survival Pack.

In addition, for PC gamers and aspiring developers, the first Left 4 Dead release for the Source Software Development Kit (Source SDK) will allow the creation of custom Left 4 Dead campaigns that will be discoverable via L4D’s matchmaking system. The SDK update is also due for release this spring, and is free of charge to all owners of L4D on the PC.

“Since Half-Life launched in 1998, Valve has made continuous efforts to expand the offering of its products beyond what’s included on the day of launch,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. “With Half-Life and Counter-Strike, and more recently Team Fortress 2, we’ve learned that we’re no longer making stand-alone games but creating entertainment services. With Left 4 Dead we’re extending that tradition by creating additional gameplay and releasing our internal tools to aspiring developers so they may also create and distribute new Left 4 Dead experiences.”

Left 4 Dead is a survival action game from Valve that blends the social entertainment experience of multiplayer games such as Counter-Strike and Team Fortress with the dramatic, narrative experience made popular in single player action game classics such as the Half-Life series of games. Released in November of 2008, L4D has earned over 25 industry awards from outlets around the world.
Visit the official Left 4 Dead website for more information.

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Half-Life 2, the definitive first-person shooter? (Half-Life 2 Review)

In 1998, Valve revolutionized the first-person shooter genre by releasing a game that combined strong cinematic elements with deep story-driven action sequences. “Half-Life” became an instant classic and gamers soon started asking for more. Six years later, after the release of a series of expansion packs and community-driven mods, Valve finally delivered the official sequel to their best-selling title.

Penned by renowned sci-fi writer Marc Laidlaw, “Half-Life 2” kicks off with lead character Gordon Freeman being awoken by the mysterious G-man who informs him that “the right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world”, which quickly follows-up with Gordon being transported into a train on route to City 17. Upon arrival, Freeman is greeted with a video transmission by former Black Mesa (Half-Life 1 local) scientist Doctor Wallace Breen welcoming him to the city. But things aren’t as friendly as they seem as you’re quickly trusted into an oppressed city controlled by Breen and his allies, the alien race known as the Combine.

Half-Life 2 looks absolutely stunning. Sure, maybe id Software’s “Doom 3” engine looks better, but Half-Life 2’s visual style and animations are unmatched. The facial expressions in the game are lifelike and give you a sense of the wide range of emotions cast by the various characters in the game. The locals in the game are also gorgeous and reminiscent of various modern day European cities.

The game features some of the best voice acting seen in modern gaming. Valve commissioned some well known actors to portray the lead roles in Half-Life 2. The voice talent includes Robert Guillaume (as Doctor Eli Vance), Robert Culp (as Doctor Wallace Breen), Michelle Forbes (as Doctor Judith Mossman) and Lou Gossett Jr. (as the Vortigaunts). Also, fan favourite Michael Shapiro returns to replay his infamous G-man character. Thanks to this pool of talent, you have a group of characters in a game that you actually care about.

In this latest adventure, our hero has access to an arsenal of seven weapons, including three new items that were not featured in the original title: the Pulse Riffle, the Pheropod and the Gravity Gun. Out of all the weapons, the Gravity Gun has to be the most unique of them all. With the Gravity Gun, you’re able to take solid objects and hurl them towards unsuspecting foes. The gun can also be used to manipulate items in order to progress in a particular situation in the game. For example, one might need to gain access to a ledge that’s out of reach, by using the Gravity Gun you could take crates that are positioned nearby and pile them up in order to gain access to that previously unsurmountable area.

The game does have a few negative aspects to it. First off, the load times in the game are horrendous as they really slow down the game’s pacing. One minute you’re racing on a speed boat, the next you’re waiting for the game to load-up. This is unacceptable for a title of this caliber when a game like Halo 2 managed to have almost no load times whatsoever. Lets hope Valve releases a patch someday that will reduce the game’s atrocious load times. It’s been done before, so why couldn’t they do it for Half-Life 2?

Another well-documented issue is the game’s stuttering problem. Users hit with this issue experience audio that cuts and stutters during dialog sequences in the game. Valve hasn’t officially released a patch for the bug yet, but they’ve issued configuration runarounds that solve the problem. Now will your average gamers be able to configure their systems to get the issue disposed of?

It might have taken six years, but Half-Life 2 developer Valve delivered what is considered by many as the the best first-person shooter of all time. The game is an absolute blast and provides gamers with a first-rate first-person shooter that conveys a sense of cinematic realism. Expect many gaming publications to name Half-Life 2 as one of the best titles of 2004.

Andre Barriault lives in Dieppe and is co-editor at the gaming website – Originally published in [here] magazine in Dec. 2004

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All Your Entertainment in One… Xbox

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Fallout 3: The Pitt Now Available

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