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The zombies are here! The zombies are here!
Earlier this month we pointed out that Left 4 Dead 2-styled Hunter and Tank plushies were joining the adorably-engorged Boomer in the Valve store, but that they wouldn't start shipping until Dec. 27.
Well, they're shipping now and we've got our hands on them, along with some wonderful Team Fortress 2 plushie sticky bombs.
Check out our little video tour and the pics we snapped. These have officially beaten out my plush Giant Microbes as my favorite plushies in the house.
Do we need to be drawn into our games, or can we just play and enjoy? That's the question pondered by commenter RAMeyer19 in today's installment of Speak-Up on Kotaku.
Why in video games is "immersion" so often quoted as an important factor that a game has or lacks? Can I not love playing Pac-Man without needing to feel that I am Pac-Man?
Honestly, Half-Life 2, often cited as the peak of immersion in modern games, more often than not had me testing boundaries as opposed to feeling immersed. How come I can smash some things with a crow bar and they'll break, but not others? Why can't I shoot supporting character Alyx in the face but I can shoot and kill a mutated monster? If Valve was trying to make the player feel a part of the Half-Life universe through their rigidly first-person design how come I am so constantly questioning the rules and limits of what I can do, only to be constantly reminded that I am indeed, only playing as Gordon Freeman who can single-handedly save humanity from an alien race, but can't kill one measly old scientist with an assault rifle?
I think this is a big question that's important to address in modern game culture. Francois Laramée said, "All forms of entertainment strive to create suspension of disbelief, a state in which the player's mind forgets that it is being subjected to entertainment and instead accepts what it perceives as reality." According to this standard, one would assume that a piece of entertainment would do everything in its power to reach this goal. But look at how effective games like Metal Gear Solid are when they break the fourth wall.
Maybe it's because interesting meta-communicative moments, like those in Metal Gear, are more important to meaningful gameplay than "immersion" in the classical narrative sense. To me at least, applying Laramée's theory of immersion to games implies a false sense of simplicity on the medium as a whole.
I think we should look beyond "immersion," the term that's become such an industry buzz-word, and try to focus on the more subtle complexities that make a game truly interesting.
And yeah, sorry for the long post, but if you made it this far I'd love to hear what you think.
About Speak-Up on Kotaku: Our readers have a lot to say, and sometimes what they have to say has nothing to do with the stories we run. That's why we have that little box on the front page of Kotaku. You know, the one with "Got something to say?" written in it? That's the place to post anecdotes, photos, game tips and hints, and anything you want to share with Kotaku at large. Just make sure to include #speakup in your comment so we can find it. Every weekday we'll pull one of the best #speakup posts we can find and highlight it here.
I don't feel I'm exaggerating in the least when I call the sale prices Steam is putting on PC and MAC games and publisher bundles ridiculous. They've got the newly-released Oddworld Oddbox at 50 percent off, for example. That's Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, Abe's Exoddus, Munch's Oddysee, and Stranger's Wrath for $12.49. Ridiculous, right?
Along with normal sales, Steam will also feature a Holiday Bonus Sale each day, which will require users to qualify for additional savings. For instance, players that own Team Fortress 2 will gain an extra 10 percent off on Portal today.
Here's a list of the titles kicking off the first round of saving:
F1 2010 50%
Battlefield Bad Company 2 66%
Fallout 3 (Game of the Year) 33%
The Deus Ex Collection 85%
LEGO Batman 75%
Peggle & Peggle Nights 60%
Prince of Persia (Franchise) 75%
F.E.A.R. (Franchise) 75%
Titan Quest Gold 75%
Super Meat Boy 75%
Why are you still here? You should be shopping.
Unfortunately, they won't be delivered in time for Christmas, if you're looking for a last minute idea. They're scheduled to ship Dec. 27. Both require 3 AAA batteries and include 10 sound samples from Left 4 Dead 2. The Hunter is $26.95, the Tank is $31.45. (Those are the discounted prices).
Valve celebrates Australian Christmas the way our antipodean friends have done for hundreds of years—by releasing a new Team Fortress 2 update. This one's stuffed with 20 hats, new store items and the olde weapons-only "Medieval Mode."
To play Medieval Mode, a mostly melee affair, you'll probably want to head to DeGroot Keep, a capture point map where TF2 players are currently hacking each other to bits with knives, swords, axes and bonesaws. The medieval themed update also includes new weapons, like... *deep breath* The Claidheamohmor, The Back Scratcher, The Boston Basher, The Fists of Steel, The Amputator, The Crusaders Crossbow, The Ullapool Caber, The Loch-n-Load, The Buffalo Steak Sandvich, The Brass Beast, The Warriors Spirit, The Candy Cane, and The Jag.
Those new, stylized weapons for a handful of classes are purchasable at the Mann Co. Store if you don't feel like waiting for them to drop. For the full list of changes, additions and patch notes, fire up Steam and start playing.
Australian Christmas [Team Fortress]
OK, so it doesn't shoot bullets, but it is life-size, does move, does track your motion and follows you, and does play authentic sound effects from the game.
It's now sitting in the entrance to Valve's headquarters. What's just as interesting, though, is why the gun is there; Valve say the gift was the result of a request, made "a few months ago we got a chance to visit Weta Workshop".
This Portal player can beat the game in less than ten minutes, with many levels flying by in mere seconds. How can a Portal speed run happen so fast? Break Portal apart at the seams, of course.
This sprint through Valve's first-person puzzler is a combination of speedy backwards jumping, slipping through cracks in the world and screwing with Portal's rules. It's a great watch, even if you spend most of your time looking at elevator doors, wondering "How the hell did he just do that?!"
While the church downstairs prepares to celebrate the Christmas season, Tripwire Interactive has been busy creating an expansion for Killing Floor that lets you kill Santa Claus, along with a special present for fans of Valve's Team Fortress 2.
Killing Floor is a cooperative multiplayer Steam game that plays a little like Valve's Left 4 Dead series, only with mutants in place of zombies. It's developed by Tripwire Interactive, a development studio located on the top floor of a church in Roswell, Georgia. A church whose attendees might have serious issues with Killing Floor's Twisted Christmas event.
Running from December 14 through January 4, the Twisted Christmas event is free to everyone that owns Killing Floor. It replaces the game's regular collection of super-powered specimens with festive holiday-themed creatures hell-bent on your annihilation. It's got evil reindeer, evil gingerbread men, and yes Virginia; there is an evil Santa Claus. Santa even gets his own level, Santa's Evil Lair, which seems a little out of character for the jolly old elf but hey, we'll play along.
Players that participate in the event will unlock a Baddest Santa as a multiplayer character. Players who participate in the event and own Team Fortress 2 will also score an extra bonus: A playable red or blue Pyro. Team Fortress 2 players will score Mr. Foster's trademark gas mask and business tie as equippable items for Pyro in that game.
Head over to the official event page for more on Killing Floor's Twisted Christmas event.
From December 6 to 19, Steam users are tasked with completing online and in-game objectives, like setting up a Steam avatar and unlocking The Heavy's Iron Curtain in Poker Night at the Inventory, which can lead to winning free games. Prizes will be handed out bi-daily to lucky winners and at the end of the whole affair, Valve will hand out 100 games to three lucky Steam users.
There are also deals to be had, like cheaper copies of R.U.S.E. and even cheaper copies of Chime. Begin the hunt!
The Great Steam Treasure Hunt [Steam]