I Heart Valve Software

You'll have to indulge me in one last bit of game geekery before I leave, because Valve Software made a couple of big announcements this week! First and foremost, they finally unveiled the long-delayed Team Fortress 2. This game has been in development so long, many wondered if it would ever see the light of day. It's even made Wired Magazine's annual vaporware list for many years running. Heck, with TF2 finally coming out, maybe Duke Nukem Forever isn't far being? *snicker*

They also managed to surprise people with it's very unexpected visual style. Unlike the original, which went for a more realistic look, the sequel has a very cartoony look. In fact, it would seem from the trailer that the game is actually done with a great deal of humor. The character designs are very evocative of a Pixar movie, and the graphics are of nearly cinematic quality as well. Well done Valve! I'm not a big fan of online multiplayer games, but I'll certainly spend a little time on this one.

Further on the unexpected trip, they announced a new game: Portal. It would seem to be more of a mini-game that a full release, but it's looking amazing nonetheless. It's very hard to explain (a link to the preview movie is below) but I'll give it a shot. It seems to basically be a puzzle game, wherein you need to use a “portal gun” to work your way around obstacles. The portal gun seems to be kinda like the gravity gun from Half-Life 2, only turned up to 11! You shoot one surface with it to create an entry portal, then shoot another to create an exit portal. Instant wormhole!

While it would seem the portal idea is clearly borrowed from the recently released Prey (which is also amazing and on my must buy list as soon as I get back from my trip,) Valve seems to have done something completely unique and original with the idea. Once again, well done Valve!

Both games are said to be released with Half-Life 2: Episode 2 this fall, though it wasn't really clear to me if they will come with the game, or just be released simultaneously and require a separate purchase. Either way, I'll be getting all three games no matter what! Check out the trailers if you doubt my enthusiasm:

Team Fortress 2
(Both can be downloaded without registration)