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Shacknews - Shack Staff

With Portal, Valve took the mechanic of shooting--something we're very familiar with--and used it in a whole new fashion. Using a gun that opened portals, Valve created a geometry-based puzzle game, the object of which was to use the openings to navigate increasingly challenging test chambers. With that starting point established, Portal 2 hits the ground running.

Portal 2 tricks you into thinking you'd never leave the unfriendly confines of the Aperture Science labs. Then the game blossoms, blowing down the very walls needed for its portals and opens up into a fantastic adventure. Breaking out of the test chambers feels liberating, answering the question: "what could I do with this portal gun in the world outside a test chamber?"

Peeking behind the curtain at Aperture Science offered an intellectual story that fits the puzzling pace just right. It's fun sci-fi, just campy enough, without becoming so silly it can't be taken seriously.

The crowning achievement of Portal 2 is its co-op mode. Working with a second player more than just doubled the complexity of the game. Solving a puzzle with a friend offered the same surprising, euphoric feel of the original Portal. For that feeling alone, Portal 2 stands as one of the high points of 2011.


The Shacknews 2011 Game of the Year awards are based on a weighted scoring system between all staff writers and editors [here's how it works!]. Last week we revealed our "Honorable Mentions," which include the titles that did not quite make our overall 'Top Five Games of the Year.' This week we reveal that Top Five list, with our Overall Game of the Year award being announced on January 20.

Shacknews - Xav de Matos

When you see a post containing the words "Team Fortress 2" and "headgear," you probably don't expect to see Saints Row: The Third sharing in the story. Today, THQ and Valve have announced that Team Fortress 2-inspired lids are coming to the PC version of the game.

Headgear that resemebles each of Team Fortress 2's characters will be added to the Steam version of Saints Row: The Third on Tuesday, January 17. The free update allows players to run through the streets of Steelport (clothing optional) disgused as their favorite character from Valve's free-to-play shooter.

"After a fair amount of back and forth with us and Valve, we're now ready to present the final chapter in our cross-promotion with Team Fortress 2. For those unfamilar with this, if you had pre-ordered TF2 on Steam, you received Killbane's Mask and Apocafists for the Heavy, and a special Third Street Saints Badge for every character," a post on the official Saints Row: The Third website revealed. "But that got us thinking about the best way to put TF2 into Saints Row: The Third, so we've come up with the following."

Sounds like a fun idea, but it's a shame that this marks the end of the Valve cross-promotion with THQ because we were really holding out hope for some Gabe Newell-inspired gear.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences released its list of nominees for this years Interactive Achievement Awards. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception leads with a dozen nominations, and shares a Game of the Year nod with Portal 2, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

GameSpot reports that Drake's latest outing isn't quite to the levels set by Uncharted 2 in 2010, which earned 15 nominations. Portal 2 earned 10 nominations, while L.A. Noire followed with nine nominations -- but no GOTY nod.

This will mark the 15th Interactive Achievement Awards, to be held on Thursday, February 9 at the D.I.C.E. Sumit in Las Vegas. Check out the full list of nominations at the link above. Plus, be sure to check out our own ongoing Shacknews GOTY reveals, and keep up with our Staff Favorites that didn't make the cut.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

The 12th annual Game Developers Choice Awards nominees were announced today, providing nods to some of last year's greatest games. Three studios shared a tie for the most nominations: Bethesda for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Valve for Portal 2, and newcomer Supergiant Games for Bastion. Skyrim and Portal 2 received five nominations each, while Bastion received four and the studio itself was nominated for Best Debut.

Sharing Game of the Year nominations with Portal 2 and Skyrim were Batman: Arkham City, Dark Souls, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Winners will be chosen by a group of 500 industry professionals and announced at the 2012 Game Developers Conference on March 7.

Check out the full list of nominees below.

Best Game Design

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)

  • Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

Innovation

  • Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure (Toys For Bob)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Johann Sebastian Joust (Die Gute Fabrik)

  • L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)

Best Technology

  • Battlefield 3 (DICE)

  • L.A. Noire (Team Bondi)

  • Crysis 2 (Crytek Frankfurt/UK)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

Best Handheld/Mobile Game

  • Tiny Tower (NimbleBit)

  • Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo)

  • Jetpack Joyride (Halfbrick)

  • Infinity Blade II (Chair Entertainment)

  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Capy Games/Superbrothers)

Best Audio

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • LittleBigPlanet 2 (Media Molecule)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Dead Space 2 (Visceral Games)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

Best Downloadable Game

  • Stacking (Double Fine)

  • From Dust (Ubisoft Montpellier)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Outland (Housemarque)

  • Frozen Synapse (Mode 7)

Best Narrative

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • The Witcher 2 (CD Projekt RED)

  • Bastion (Supergiant Games)

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

  • Saints Row: The Third (Volition)

Best Debut

  • Supergiant Games (Bastion)

  • Team Bondi (L.A. Noire)

  • Re-Logic (Terraria)

  • BioWare Austin (Star Wars: The Old Republic)

  • Eidos Montreal (Deus Ex: Human Revolution)

Best Visual Arts

  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception (Naughty Dog)

  • Rayman Origins (Ubisoft Montpellier)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (Ignition Japan)

  • Battlefield 3 (DICE)

Game of the Year

  • Batman: Arkham City (Rocksteady Studios)

  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Portal 2 (Valve)

  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Eidos Montreal)

  • Dark Souls (FromSoftware)

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Oh, you thought that the industry had finally escaped the grasp of the Spike TV Video Game Awards? Not quite. Here are a few of the "acceptance speeches" that couldn't make it into the program--not because Spike TV decided to ignore most of the winners, but because these digitally rendered characters didn't win.

The Joker won the award for "Best Character," but here are the potential speeches you would've heard had Portal 2's Wheatley or Uncharted 3's Nathan Drake had won.

These videos are all hosted by GameTrailers.

And here's the winning video:

[These video embeds are not supported by the GameFly Apps or GameFly Digital Client]

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

As you may well know, December 18 is Australian Christmas, when all the little children down under are visited by Old Nick, hoping he doesn't steal them away to work in his toy factory. Nightmare-maker Valve's annual celebration begins on Thursday in Team Fortress 2, with this year's update bringing a new map, treats from Dr. Grordbort, and more exciting and terrible things.

The new Control Point map is the industrial Foundry, which comes complete with twelve-map specific achievements. Unlocking any seven of these will earn you a thoroughly steampunk top hat.

Raygun maker Dr. Grordbort previously delivered goodies for the Soldier, and now it's bringing the Braniac Pack and Moonman Pack for the Pyro and Engineer, with new weapons and some awfully fetching accessories. Most likely, you'll only be able to get them at first by buying them, but then the items will start dropping and become craftable--as is the way with most packs.

If you're an unpleasant little brat who demands presents now, item drop rates have been doubled until Wednesday.

Valve has only revealed part of the update's contents so far, promising the rest of the details tomorrow, along with the update. There's also a new comic showing where the new Grordbort toys came from, and, if you missed out on the origins of Australian Christmas, do read Valve's explanation from last year.

Shacknews - Shack Staff

On Wednesday, we revealed that the second title to be included in the Shacknews list of Moby Games Classic titles was Valve's 1998 hit Half-Life.

Released in 1998, Half-Life set the stage for story-driven first-person shooters. Widely considered one of the best games of all time, the original Half-Life is a welcome addition to our list of classics. After the break, the Shacknews community tells their stories and impressions of Half-Life, and answer why they feel it's deserving of a spot on our list of classics.

Replayed it a few times, and a few times on source. What always surprises me is how well it flows, from combat to puzzle," Shacker nutcrackr wrote, adding that the Team Fortress Classic mod stole hours from his life. "Half Life is probably my 2nd all time favorite game, behind Deus Ex." Coincidently, Deus Ex was the first game inducted into the Moby Games Classic series.

"One of the games that truly marked a spot on my life and really opened me up to what could be done on a PC, which was great since I came from a pure console background till about 13," edge198 admitted.

Beyond the fact that Half-Life was awarded "over 50 Game of the Year awards" when it launched, it helped usher in a new era of gaming. Titles like Counter-Strike owe their creation and success to Half-Life's development and Valve's support of its passionate community.

"The bad thing about classic games is they are dated. If someone has never played Half Life and decided to play through it they would wonder what the fuss was all about. But honestly that person would have to play other FPS's that existed prior to Half Life to understand what that game did to the industry," Shacker dookiebot says. "It was the little things about Half Life that took the FPS to a whole new experience.

Marrbe agrees, noting that by "modern standards" Half-Life may seem humble. "But in [1998]? Going through an underground research facility with things going on left and right, an information and safety announcer, moody ambient music, and opening credits? That was memorable."

That is what makes a classic. A title that remains memorable for years after launch. A title that, when you ask for memories from a gaming community, brings in a flood of positive reaction.

Check out the original Chatty thread for more stories and memories from the original Half-Life.

Half-Life on MobyGames.com

Description: Black Mesa Research Facility is an ultra-secret laboratory under government contract, conducting top-secret and extremely volatile experiments, where the protagonist Gordon Freeman works. One particular morning, Freeman makes his way to the office for an ordinary and scheduled experiment. However, when the experiment initiates, Gordon realizes that it might not be as ordinary as he thought. Chaos ensues and aliens from the planet Xen begin to flood the complex. Gordon is then thrust into a new role: one of defender and survivor of the Black Mesa complex.


Moby Games Classic is our chance to look back at the games that helped shape the video game industry with the help of our sister site MobyGames.com. It combines a short history lesson on the title and anecdotes from the Shacknews community.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

With the scariest holiday on the calendar creeping near, a Hellish handful of vicious video ghouls (games) are hosting Halloween festivities. If you can't find the fishnet stockings needed to complete your Sexy Parking Meter costume, and will be staying, here's a few unspeakable ideas on how to amuse yourself this wicked weekend.

You can seek the Bombinomicon in Team Fortress 2, fight Dracula and dress as Commander Chicken in Killing Floor, escape a zombie nightmare in Train Simulator 2012, and join in plenty of other spooky thrills.

Once again, Team Fortress 2 is running the scariest show in town, with the Third Annual Scream Fortress Very Scary Halloween Special. After reading the fabulous new comic revealing the terrifying truth behind the Demonman's missing eye, you'll be ready to hunt the accursed orb.

The map Viaduct has become the haunted Eyeaduct, where you'll face the twisted creature the Demoman's eye became, the Monoculus. Defeating it will grant rewards, while you can also find new and fantastic Hallowe'en costumes, buy chilling new Mann Store items, or get a cauldron of goodies just for playing.

Check the TF2 wiki for more, and have a peek at Eyeaduct courtesy of Youtube user Niichts:

Survival shooter Killing Floor is running the Halloween Sideshow, bringing back and spookifying the cast of the Summer Sideshow. The Abusement Park has relocated to the asylum map of Bedlam, where you'll find goblins, were-bunnies, pumpkins, and Dracula baying for your blood.

If you collect all seven new Killing Floor Halloween achievements, you'll unlock a Commander Chicken outfit to wear. Yes, it is a chicken suit.

Rock of Ages has rolled out a Jack-o'-lantern boulder skin for you to pummel your foes with, along with a spooky new title screen.

Railworks 3: Train Simulator 2012 is celebrating Halloween with perhaps the single oddest piece of downloadable content ever created, Trains vs Zombies.

Zombies have invaded the Oxford-Paddington route, so you'll need to drive a group of survivors, including a mysterious man known as The Professor, to a secret bunker beneath Paddington Station, switching trains and dodging the dastardly undead along the way. Yes. $4.99 will get you four scenarios with zombies, witches, and flying trains.

Bunch of Heroes is offering the spooky skins in the Horror Pack DLC for free on Steam over the weekend, after which you'll need to buy them.

Dungeons - The Dark Lord has a new Halloween-y map, and is filling your dungeons with pumpkins, candy, and other terrible things.

As ever, MMOs including World of Warcraft, Champions Online, DC Universe Online, Guild Wars, Aion, Free Realms, and oh so many more have their own Halloween festivities.

And, of course, there are heaps o' Halloween sales going on, but we'll have more on that in our weekend digital deals roundup later today.

Shacknews - Shack Staff

Released in 1998, Half-Life set the stage for story-driven first-person shooters. While games like Halo have been praised for thrusting the genre into the modern age, its cinematic nature couldn't exist without stepping through the doors burst open by developer Valve. Widely considered one of the best games of all time, the original Half-Life is a welcome addition to our list of classics.

"It reeks of quality, and stinks of class--the creators obviously cared about making a good game, and that simple fact sets 'Half-Life' apart from everything else," MobyGames.com user Ashley Pomeroy wrote in her 2000 review of the game.

Following its success on PC, Half-Life was brought to the PlayStation 2. It was clear that the title had begun spilling beyond the reach of PC gamers and into the growing console market, a market that craved a title of its quality. At one point, a Dreamcast version was nearing release but was never made available in stores, disappointing more than a few (Xav still complains about it).

Beyond the fact that Half-Life was awarded "over 50 Game of the Year awards" when it launched, it helped usher in a new era of gaming. Titles like Counter-Strike owe their creation and success to Half-Life's development and Valve's support of its passionate community.

Tell Us Your Stories! We want to hear about your experiences with Half-Life. Tell us your stories. Why did you love it? What drove you crazy? Remember it fondly with us in the comments below. We'll select some of your thoughts and memories and add it to a Weekend Update to this feature.

Half-Life on MobyGames.com

Description: Black Mesa Research Facility is an ultra-secret laboratory under government contract, conducting top-secret and extremely volatile experiments, where the protagonist Gordon Freeman works. One particular morning, Freeman makes his way to the office for an ordinary and scheduled experiment. However, when the experiment initiates, Gordon realizes that it might not be as ordinary as he thought. Chaos ensues and aliens from the planet Xen begin to flood the complex. Gordon is then thrust into a new role: one of defender and survivor of the Black Mesa complex.


Moby Games Classic is our chance to look back at the games that helped shape the video game industry with the help of our sister site MobyGames.com. It combines a short history lesson on the title and anecdotes from the Shacknews community.

Shacknews - Jeff Mattas

Turtle Rock Studios is reportedly using Crytek's CryEngine to build its next game. The Left 4 Dead co-developer has revealed that they've currently got a new multiplayer FPS in the works. Cryptically dubbed "Secret Project #1," the game will be published by THQ.

Calling the project "the most exciting, ambitious thing we've ever attempted," Turtle Rock's website (via Edge) has also issued a call to fill several positions to work on the new title: Engine Programmer, Tools Programmer, Network Programmer, AI Programmer, and Senior Gameplay Programmer. The site also notes that while experience with CryEngine tech is a "major bonus" for applicants, it's not essential.

News site VG247 recently spoke with THQ vice president Danny Bilson about the project, who enthusiastically stated: "The Turtle Rock game we'll probably talk about next year. It's well underway. It's fantastic. It's one of the most incredible designs that's ever come across my desk. Really excited about that. It has some mechanics in it and gameplay that you haven't really played before."

Turtle Rock's "Secret Project #1" is planned to release in 2013.

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