German artist Daniel Ritthanondh is the man to thank for this Half-Life-inspired lamp, which will simultaneously light up your room and darken your dreams.
As big a Half-Life fan as I am, I could not own this. Wherever it went, I couldn't walk under it. Ever. That or I'd come home one day and creep up on it, shooting at it until it coughed up a human skull and giblets all over my living room floor. Which would just be too messy.
Well, if we're going to be doing more recent games for Total Recall, we'd better talk about Half-Life 2 sooner rather than later. As is true for so many people, HL2 is one of my favorite games of all time, an evergreen gem that I replay about once a year.
It's hard to put my finger on a "favorite" part, really—there are so many iconic moments that they all kind of blend together. But if I had to name one, it would be the bridge level.
You know the one I'm talking about. Near the end of "Highway 17," you'll arrive in a small villa that's located along a cliff. Up a hill is a long bridge, along which are running menacing Combine trains. To get Gordon's buggy up onto the track, you'll have to go to the other side of the bridge and unplug the combine force field that's blocking your way. And to get to the other side of the bridge… you'll have to go under it.
The wind, ripping into your ears, cutting through the air beneath this massive metal structure.
This is one of those make-or-break moments, when the designers at Valve grabbed their ambitions and carried them into the end zone so assuredly that it's still impressive, coming up on ten years later.
You enter the bridge support structure. And then you come out, and you're on a deck looking out onto the scaffolding underneath the bridge. It looks like you can jump down there… but can you? Is this safe?
The sound effects here are key. The wind, ripping into your ears, cutting through the air beneath this massive metal structure. It truly feels as though it could blow you off.
And so then, you jump. Everyone who has played this level has probably died at least once; slipping on a girder and tumbling, watching the ground come rushing up towards you. Just watching the video above gives me vertigo. I could play this level a hundred times and never tire of it—it is pure video game magic.
And once you're halfway across, things get even better. A train goes by above you, foreshadowing the coming race against the onrushing train that closes out this level. And once you've made it to the other side, cleared out the nest of combine soldiers and deactivated the force field… well then you have to make your way back. But why should you get to make your way back exactly the same way you came? Wouldn't it be much more interesting if a flying whale-helicopter attacked you and totally wrecked your shit?
This bravura section is my favorite single bit of Half-Life 2. The video of it is broken into three parts, with the middle section above. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube: Part one, part two, and part three.
Or, you know, you can just go play it again. You know you want to.
Actually, calling it an action figure does it a bit of a disservice. The term "action figure" conjures all sorts of images, mostly of very small men. This custom Strider from the Half-Life universe is not very small at all.
Not only does it look awesome, but its builder, nomadamusic, says it was almost entirely made from scratch, and even includes a few points of articulation.
Who needs large toy companies when individual artists can make their own Striders? Not nomadamusic, that's for damn sure.
Valve's $100 Valentine's Day gag was actually taken up by a lot of people, who figured the money was well spent since it gave them a chance to broadcast a message to the entire Team Fortress 2 community.
What resulted, then, were not actual engagements, but people making Half-Life 3 jokes for the whole world to see. Which may be what Valve expected all along, and is why the entry barrier to such power was set so high.
While NECA rolled out a bunch of impressive Valve-licensed stuff, I was still charmed by the Portal 2 offerings shown by ThinkGeek. Along a Companion Cube cookie jar and talking turrets, they also had Aperture Science cores that blurted out phrases from the Portal games. But the highlight had to be the Science Fair kit that you could plug into a potato, calling back to one of the best moments in Valve's teleportational sequel. (Potato not included but the poster backdrop is)
ThinkGeek also had Minecraft wares on display, too. Those wall-hangings should keep the Creepers away, no?
This Spring sees the release of Tactical Intervention on the PC, a game noteworthy because its development has been led by one of the co-creators of Counter-Strike. So the fact the two games look similar is no coincidence.
While Valve's own Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is an iterative update to the venerable old franchise, Tactical Intervention looks far more ambitious, including some unexpected stuff like driving sequences.
LAN support is a dying breed in modern PC gaming. But don't tell the upcoming DOTA 2 this, as Valve's game will let you drag a dekstop, pizza and sleeping bag to your friend's place to your heart's content. [PC Gamer]