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Gaming Heads, the creators of fine Team Fortress 2 statuary, opens the valve on its new Portal 2 line with this gorgeous 16-inch turret replica, ready to fill speaking and non-speaking roles in your home security regime, depending on how much you're willing to invest.
Can you really put a price tag on quality replica home security? Well yes, you can, and that price tag is $300. That money can secure you one of 750 Portal 2 turrets upon their Q4 2012 release, packed lovingly in foam with a certificate that ensures that this is a high quality product and not something you made in shop class.
Just look at this thing. Are you not pleased to the tune of $300?
Perhaps you need to see a more detailed view. Did I mention the motion sensor activated light?
Still not convinced? What's wrong with you? You act as if you don't have $300 to toss about frivolously on video game paraphernalia.
I can understand that, so I won't even tell you about the Gaming Heads exclusive edition, which adds voices from the game to the statue for a mere $30 extra. It's limited to 350 pieces; you probably couldn't have secured one in time anyway.
Portal 2 Turret Preorder [Gaming Heads]
Portal 2 Turret Exclusive w/ Sound Preorder [Gaming Heads]
The first time I ever played Portal was damn near magical. Each room I walked into held promise of some diabolical new assault on both my brain and the laws of physics, but I made them look like child’s play. At the time, I was certain it proved I was a genius with an IQ so huge that even my bulging genius brain couldn’t count that high. Of course, I soon came to find out that everyone> experienced Portal that way. So I wasn’t a genius. But the puzzle designers at Valve were.
To this day, Portal stands as the most masterful example of invisibly intuitive teaching I’ve ever discovered. It slowly builds upon itself – sneaking new techniques into your repertoire until you’re snoozing through puzzles that would’ve short-circuited your synapses maybe 20 minutes earlier. Is it a fit for classrooms, though? My first inclination would be to think not. I mean, it’s not exactly a hyper-accurate physics simulation – even with science jokes making up the bulk of both Portal 1 and 2′s brilliantly witty dialogue. That, however, is precisely the point, according to Valve director of education Leslie Redd and designer Yasser Malaika. It’s how> Valve games teach – not what they’re teaching – that could help save a rusty, way-behind-the-times education system.
Year after year, many schools struggle to teach kids basic math and reading skills. Portal, on the other hand, taught my childlike, directionally-crippled brain a slew of hyper-complex spatial reasoning abilities. In about 30 minutes. So I guess maybe> it could be a good fit for the classroom. And hey, what do you know (aside from a Portal-imbued slew of hyper-complex spatial reasoning abilities)? Valve seems to think so too. The resulting program’s been dubbed Teach With Portals, and it’s just the beginning of Valve’s new Steam For Schools initiative.
If you've played games like Team Fortress 2 or the Portal titles, you know that Valve loves making players learn. The company's already got a foothold in bringing their games into the educational space and that commitment's going to get bigger.
Today, at the Games for Change conference, Valve's Leslie Redd and Yasser Malaika announced that they'll be giving away their hit game Portal 2 for free, via the new Steam for Schools initiative. After signing up for a beta, educators will be able to get the popular sequel, the recently launched Perpetual Testing Initiative level maker and sample levels. Students making levels won't be able to share levels outside of a physical classroom, though. For more info, head over to learnwithportals.com
Valve has opened a new "Steam for Schools" initiative, offering a specially-designed and free version of Steam to educators. It's kicking off the new program with "Teach with Portals," a free version of Portal 2 and the Portal 2 Puzzle Maker offered through SoS to teach kids about science, technology, engineering, and math. And who better to show kids a passion for science than GLaDOS?
The official site (via Joystiq) details the program, which is now in beta. It makes educators the administrators of the limited version of Steam, so they can oversee their kids learning about physics and math using the game and tools.
It already hosts a number of lesson plans for physics and math, including ones on spatial visualization, parabolas, gravity, terminal velocity, and conservation of momentum, among others. The site hints that eventually it will host lesson plans at chemistry, game design, and language arts.
The FAQs detail how to apply. If you're an educator, you'll need to provide contact information for your supervisor and the organization, the subject, the number of computers, and the number of students. After that, your kids can learn about physics while GLaDOS complains about being a potato.
Mean, witty, and slightly crazy, GLaDOS is one of the most memorable gaming characters in recent memory—no wonder she's a fan fav. And no wonder all these folks decided to dress up as her!
Here's a look a handful of cosplayers tackling the same character. It's like when people show up to a party, dressed in the same outfit. Have a look in the above gallery and see who pulled off the best GLaDOS.
Gravity is a pernicious reminder of our physical limits. It's the thing that keeps us rooted to the ground, it pulls our bodies downwards, makes us slow, ages us. The dream of flight, then, is a rejection of that limitation—see me? I can fly, man. I'm free, I can do anything!
And yet, I've found that when playing games, it's not the flying that I find most exciting. It's the moment that comes after—when I re-engage with gravity and come tumbling back towards earth. Flying in video games is great, but I love to fall.
Gravity Rush, a splendid new adventure game for the PlayStation Vita, opens with a scene depicting an apple, tumbling to the ground. Sir Isaac Newton may be nowhere to be seen, but the scene's intent is clear: This is a game about falling, pure and simple. And man oh man, does this game do falling well.
The game's central, brilliant idea is to give the player the ability to change which way is "down," and so which way the protagonist Kat will fall. Another way to think about this is that the player is able to change the axis of the world on a whim. Video games have granted a lot of cool powers over the years, but this is among the coolest.
It's an extraordinary thing, this game's sense of freedom, of kinetic motion. With a double-tap of the right shoulder button, Kat launches into the air, wind blowing her hair behind her, skydiving upwards towards the wall of a skyscraper. She lands (three-point lands, obvs), and runs up the wall, only to "fall" off the edge of the building and go tumbling towards the horizon.
It's discombobulating at first—the "grav-boot" concept is nothing new to most people who play video games, but the idea of falling sideways off the lip of a skyscraper is. I was impressed with how quickly I got my head around the concept, and how much joy I found in simply getting around Gravity Rush's city of Heckesville. (It doesn't hurt that the game is gorgeously drawn, wonderfully animated, and features a lush and beautiful musical score. Despite a few flaws, mostly to do with repetitive combat, Gravity Rush is a game that I have yet to tire of playing. Evan agreed in our official review.)
It's crucial, however, that Kat isn't actually able to fly. Her gravity-shifting powers can only run for so long before she begins to tumble downwards, waiting for them to recharge so that she can fall back upwards again. If Kat were given the power of flight, the game wouldn't be half as interesting, exhilarating, or fun. It's the falling that makes it magic.
In the underrated Just Cause 2, players are set loose on a massive (and I do mean massive tropical island, tasked with causing as much mayhem as possible. They're given all manner of tools and weaponry, but only two tools that matter—a grappling hook that can latch on to any surface, and a parachute that can be opened and closed an unlimited number of times.
Immediately, what would have otherwise been a game about stealing jets, driving jeeps and shooting dudes becomes a game about flight. Or more specifically, a game about falling, with style. The number of techniques combining the pull of the grappling hook with the resistance of the parachute are nearly endless—there is no end to the joy of flinging protagonist Rico Rodriguez about like a little G.I. Joe character attached to a rubberband. And if and when you get bored of that, you can always hop on the back of an airliner, fly to the top of the skybox, and jump.
The gunplay in Just Cause 2 may be questionable, the A.I. idiotic, and the missions may be repetitive. But the sensation of falling—seen in this video at around the 2:00 mark—never gets old.
Valve's Portal games are among slickest falling games ever created. They're admirable not just for their tight design and sense of humor, but because they have some of the most focused falling in video gaming. When you fall in Portal, you fall with a Purpose.
Similar to Gravity Rush, Portal requires players to re-think their trajectories in order to progress beyond otherwise unpassable obstacles. But where Gravity Rush is mostly about action and high-flying acrobatics, Portal is about measured movement and problem-solving.
Back when I reviewed Portal 2, I talked about the game largely in terms of dominoes. A puzzle in the game is a lined-up row of dominoes, with you as the first domino in the bunch. Portal regularly executed a slick combined thrill of first realizing the solution to a puzzle, then throwing yourself through it.
One of the coolest additions in Portal 2 was protagonist Chell's "long fall boots," which let her fall from any height and land unscathed. Chell could fall any distance and, with a simple couple of blasts from her portal gun, wind up back where she started. I quickly learned to take it on faith that Valve wouldn't lead me into a situation from which I couldn't recover. I was free to fall as I pleased.
So many other great games explore our constant dance with gravity—Trials HD can at times feel like juggling, the aptly-named Gravity Hook requires constant slingshotting to move upwards, ever farther from the ground, and death. Max Payne 3 is at its best when its protagonist defies gravity, leaping down a stairwell while blasting away at his foes below, and the best platformers, from Mario to Journey, aren't as much about the jump itself as they are about the trajectory that follows.
"This is falling with style."
That now-famous quote at the start, of course, is from Toy Story. At the beginning of the film, Woody had dismissed his new rival Buzz's first flight as not flight at all. "That wasn't flying' Woody sputters. "That was… falling, with style." And yet later in the film, when Buzz saves Woody, this same line is delivered with a wink—for one moment, Woody and Buzz actually are flying. And while the rules of reality won't stay changed (Buzz can't fly in Toy Story 2, for example), for this one moment they transcend gravity and soar to safety.
We've all dreamt of flying; that moment in the dream when we think, "This is impossible, and yet here I am." But it will always be the fall that wakes us up, crashing back to consciousness with adrenaline in our gut and a gasp on our lips. It's the falling that brings us back to earth.
There's already at least one Portal cartoon in production. That one, however, looks like something Dreamworks would come up with. If you'd rather a Portal cartoon look more like something Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi would dream up, though, you might want to take a look at these.
These pieces are the work of artist Sandra Rivas, whose style is heavily influenced by John K.. What's cool is that she's turned all the cores and computers into people, and in doing so, has absolutely nailed them. Especially Wheatley.