PC Gamer
CryLife

Can we talk about Dr. Kleiner from Half-Life 2 and what a huge failure he is as a science person? Sure, the guy cobbled together a teleporter in his garage, but when Gordon Freeman shows up after being gone for ten years, what does Kleiner have waiting for him? The same old clunky outdated HEV suit Gordon wore back in Black Mesa. You’d think that as the leading bald science man on earth, he may have added some upgrades in a decade’s time, something along the lines of the nanosuit from the Crysis series. Alas, no: he left that to the modders of Crylife.


Should I use strength, speed, armor, cloaking... or Alyx?
Crylife, created by the two-person Dev.Muffin modding team, is actually a mod for SMOD, which is a mod for Half-Life 2. If you’re not familiar with SMOD, it’s been around for almost a decade and still gets updated and patched every so often. Essentially, it adds new weapons, new enemies, bullet time, and extra gore, making Half-Life 2 crazier, more violent, and more X-TREME. It helps to picture Valve developers sitting around a table in 2004, putting the finishing touches on Half-Life 2, and suddenly Jerry Bruckheimer kicks open the door and shouts “I’m here to help, and my contribution is this GIANT BAG OF COCAINE!” That's SMOD.


There's something very un-Freeman about dual pistols. And yet something so satisfying.
So, you’ve got SMOD for Half-Life 2, and now Crylife for SMOD, meaning you’ve got all the extra frentic action of SMOD plus the nanosuit from Crysis. Let’s go over the suit’s powers, by saying them in a super deep, somewhat creepy voice (here's a refresher if you need it) with an English accent:
MAXIMUM SPEED
Where Half-Life 2’s sprint was really more of a trot, Crylife’s speed will have you zipping all over the map, which is useful if you want to run up and punch an enemy soldier, which is something you want to do. Did I mention there is punching in Crylife? There is punching in Crylife, by holding down the V key, letting you smash wooden obstacles and crates and faces without having to cycle your weapon over to the crowbar, which you no longer have. Punching is fun, though it’s much more effective when using:
MAXIMUM STRENGTH
It’s not just for Tylenol anymore! Now you can punch things (see above), and the things break or go flying. Also, you can jump, while sprinting, which will give you a nice big leap. You know how sometimes you have to jump onto crates to get over walls and fences, or use ladders, or muck around solving see-saw puzzles by stacking cinder blocks on a board? Now, the environment is conquered by your nanobot-infused super-thighs.


Punch-a-Vort: the City 17 answer to Whack-a-Mole.
Which takes us to:
MAXIMUM AHH-MUH
Armor, well, it lets you get shot a lot more without dying, which is useful because with SMOD's extra enemies and their extra bullets, you will be getting shot extra times. Also, some of the enemies have their own nanosuits, just like they did in Crysis. You’ll definitely need armor you protect yourself against them. Even with AHH-MUH (set to MAXIMUM), I die a lot in this mod.


You're not the only one jumping around City 17 like an idiot.
Finally:
CLOAK... ENGAGED


Thanks to CLOAK, this ambush never got sprung. And I got that big promotion! Thanks, CLOAK!
Cloak is fun, because you can walk right up to enemies without them seeing you. As in Crysis, you can’t really do anything violent while remaining cloaked, so it turns into a fun game of, “Can I quickly switch to MAXIMUM AHH-MUH and then carefully insert bullets into everyone before they react?” The answer is yes, usually.


I'm not sure if night vision makes Ravenholm less scary or more scary.
There are weapons, new ones, in Crylife, and with SMOD’s iron sights they’re all MAXIMUM FUN to use. Plus, each gun has two slots for attachments that you’ll find while you’re sprinting, jumping, cloaking, punching, and AHH-MUH-ing around City 17. The pistol can be fitted with a silencer, or turned into dual-wielded pistols for the whole John Woo experience. The machine guns can be fitted with different kind of scopes and silencers as well.


Do you like guns and attaching things to guns and shootin' dudes? Here you go.
The mod is still in beta, but Dev.Muffin has been patching things quickly. I played it earlier this week and noticed some textures missing and a few other minor problems, but when I went back to the download page the next day, they'd already released a new version fixing the issues I'd spotted. There's also a few extra maps and gamemodes you can access from the "New Game" menu: just scroll past the Half-Life 2 chapters and you'll see them.
Installation: Not much entanglement here. You'll need to have installed (and have run at least once) Half-Life 2, HL2 Deathmatch, and Counter-Strike: Source. Download the mod file (it's a hefty one which includes all the SMOD stuff). Open your "sourcemods" folder, which is in your "steamapps" folder which is in your "Steam" folder. Extract the "Crylife" folder into the "sourcemods" folder. Restart Steam, and you'll see SMOD: Crylife appear in your games library! MAXIMUM DOUBLE-CLICK IT, and you're ready to play.
PC Gamer
Radiator thumb


Robert Yang's experimental Half-Life 2 mod series Radiator is due to be repurposed as a pack of short-form single-player games, starting with a "slightly longer" standalone remake of the original episode, Polaris. The "go-on-a-lousy-stargazing-date-and-then-g­et-dumped-at-the-end" simulator is expanding out with new graphics, voice acting, Oculus Rift support, and full-frontal male nudity. A trailer has been released, teasing its planned August release.

Come for the pleasant harmonica, stay for the naked dancing:



The Radiator website has been updated with details of the new projects that will make up Vol.1, including Condom Corps and Zobeide. You can still access the original mod over at ModDB, where you'll find the original Polaris alongside Handle With Care - a game about crates and marriage counselling.

Thanks, RPS.
PC Gamer
Half-Life 2

If you’re in the world-record setting speedrun business, your job got a little bit harder this weekend. On Saturday, the evil geniuses at SourceRuns posted a new world record speedrun video of Half-Life 2 completed in 1:27:51.09.

Speedruns are curious cocktails of obsessive practice, devoted love of a specific game and engine-warping bugs. The SourceRuns team made use of a number of known Source bugs, the most obvious being Half-Life 2’s reverse bunnyhopping glitch. When a player in the Source engine jumps, they receive a speed boost in the air and then a reverse force of friction when they land. If they’re jumping backward, though, they speed up in the air and then get a forward force of friction when they land. For some truly impressive acceleration, check out speedrunner Gocnak’s breathtaking, and backward, navigation of the coastal highway (41:47). Dr. Freeman’s iconic car gets left behind, but Gocnak soars directly into our hearts.
Other highlights include speedrunner UnrealCanine fighting back against the Combine oppressors with some choice graffiti (52:59). Unfortunate lowlights include, well, every time a speedrunner zoomed in to stare at the rear ends or chests of Alyx and Dr. Mossman (too many instances to link).
According to the video notes, the final speedrun took 600 days of work from over a dozen players, recorded in 200 segments on Hard difficulty. If, as you watch, you see a player glitch or launch past something in a way you've never seen before, check out Sourceruns wiki for a full description of the glitches used in the video.
PC Gamer
The best shooters of all time
PC Gamer
Portal 2 Rift


A Steam news note announces the arrival of an updated version of Valve's software development kit, which grants "support for Mac OS X and Linux to mod developers" and adds "the ability for virtual reality support in your mod." Yes, expect to see a wealth of Oculus Rift mods heading to a Source game near you. Ricochet with Oculus Rift support! The dream lives.

There have been other alterations, too. The source code is now up on github and a tweak to the license agreement allows users to share modified versions of the kit for free. If you're interested in making mods, the Valve Developer Community wiki is a good place to learn.

VR is the talk of the town at the moment, with the Rift's impressive showings at Eve Fanfest and E3. You can keep up with the latest VR news here.
PC Gamer
steam trading cards


Just as promised, Steam Trading Cards is now live. The virtual cards can be earned by playing participating games on Steam, trading with other users, or buying on the Steam Marketplace. Complete a set to create a badge, earn rewards and XP, and level up. The user with the highest Steam level at the end of the year gets to high five Gabe Newell while announcing Half-Life 3. In space.

In other true facts, I'm already hearing from users playing the Steam marketplace to profit off the cards' initial popularity. One user I spoke to has been buying low and selling high to pad his Steam wallet, even creating scarcity by buying up low-value cards in quantity. I'll keep an eye on marketplace prices as more users start trading the collectibles.

I was hoping to find a good deal on a 1952 Mickey Mantle card, but unfortunately, baseball isn't a participating game. You can see which of the games you own are participating here.
PC Gamer
Portal 2 ARG


When Portal 2 was announced, the news dropped through an elaborate scavenger hunt puzzle that sent thousands of players crawling all over the internet. Years later, we finally get to see some of the work that went into making that alternate reality game, as told by celebrated Half-Life modder (now Valve employee) Adam Foster in a blog post at Gamasutra.

Foster, one of the designers of the ARG puzzle from Valve, describes the elaborate trail of puzzles that the Portal-playing community was able to decipher. It began with a seemingly mundane game update for Portal 1: “changed radio transmission frequency to comply with federal and state spectrum management regulations.” That update changed the radios found throughout Portal into Morse Code-dispensers. The code was deciphered into slow-scan television images. Somehow—my knowledge of information theory and cryptography ran dry a paragraph ago—these images were combined into an elaborate code, which was then hacked. Remember: none of us is as smart as all of us.



The result? A phone number to an ancient modem in Foster’s kitchen that slowly drip-fed Portal 2 concept art to announce the game to the world. The ARG team at Valve did a fun thing with no budget, and it caught the attention of the world’s games media. It was also an intricately designed puzzle that, despite a few false positives, played out exactly as Valve designed. As Foster writes, “Estimated time to 'solve' the initial puzzles: seven hours. Actual time to solve: seven hours and sixteen minutes. This wasn't an accident.”

We are all just puppets dancing on Gabe Newell’s strings, aren't we? Check out the full blog post from Foster for a lot of fascinating details about ARGs and the devious geniuses at Valve.
PC Gamer
Rumor: Half-Life 3?


Are we finally going to be able to play Half-Life 3? While Valve isn't exactly holding press conferences or sending marching bands through the streets yet, a recent slip in its system supposedly exposed the details of every project it's ever worked on—including the long-fabled conclusion to one of gaming's best series, as well as Left 4 Dead 3 and Source Engine 2.

The tip-off comes to PC Gamer via ValveTime, who recently received alleged screenshots of Valve's internal project-tracking software (Jira) during a momentary lapse in which is the system was made public (it has, of course, since been locked up tight again). The images show a 42-employee mailing group for a project entitled "Half-Life 3," as well as a mailing group for "Left 4 Dead 3" with 68 recipients.

Meanwhile, the development of Source 2 appears to be plugging along nicely, with the numerous groups devoted to the project hinting it's in full swing. Other project listings include familiar names such as "Return to Ravenholm," "Steam Box," and "Episode 3," as well as the more mysterious "F-Stop" and "SteamMMO."

One of the screenshots sent to ValveTime.

Before we start waving about banners emblazoned with Gordon Freeman's handsome face, we have to keep in mind that this info dump is in no way an official confirmation of anything. Firstly, these screenshots come from an anonymous source and cannot be verified. Secondly, Jira catalogs everything that has ever been worked on within Valve's walls, regardless of development stage, and some of the listed titles may very well have been canceled years ago.

ValveTime hypothesizes that games further in their development cycle have multiple mailing lists, as Left 4 Dead 3 does—suggesting that it is in active development. This is in contrast to Half-Life 3's single  group, which suggests that its development is either inactive or in the very beginning stages.

We'll be keeping our ears perked for further details. In the meantime, let's pray that a tiny Half-Life 3 embryo is kicking about somewhere in the Valve HQ, preparing to grow into something grand.
PC Gamer
steam trading cards


If you don't have beta participation turned on in your Steam settings, go do that so you can start collecting trading cards, earning XP, and leveling up. Yup, Steam just got gamified.

The games participating in the Trading Cards beta are Don't Starve, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, and Half-Life 2, and "up to half the card set" for each can be earned by playing them. The other half of each set is "earned through your collecting prowess," which presumably means trading with Steam users who got different drops.

Once you collect a complete set, you'll be able to craft a game badge which will appear on your profile and unlock "marketable items like emoticons, profile backgrounds, and coupons." Badges can be leveled up by collecting the required trading cards again, and all badges—including any you already have—now give you XP which contributes to your "Steam Level." Leveling up has its own benefits, awarding you "non-tradable items like profile showcases, extra friends list slots, and more."

Now that playing games on Steam is a game, are you bothered that someone out there is already beating you? If so, the PC Gamer Steam group may be a good place to start looking for trades.
PC Gamer
steam trading cards


Join the Steam Trading Cards group on Steam to score a beta invite so you can start collecting trading cards, earning XP, and leveling up—yup, Steam just got gamified.

The games participating in the Trading Cards beta are Don't Starve, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, and Half-Life 2, and up to half of the new virtual trading cards for each can be earned by playing them. The other half of each set is earned "through your collecting prowess," which presumably means trading with Steam users who got different drops.

Once you collect a complete set, you'll be able to craft a game badge which will appear on your profile and unlock "marketable items like emoticons, profile backgrounds, and coupons." Badges can be leveled up by collecting the required trading cards again, and all badges—including any you already have—now give you XP which contributes to your "Steam Level." Leveling up has its own benefits, awarding you "non-tradable items like profile showcases, extra friends list slots, and more."

Now that playing games on Steam is a game, are you bothered that someone out there is already beating you? If so, the PC Gamer Steam group may be a good place to start looking for trades.
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