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Shacknews - John Keefer

It's been about six years since the Minerva mod for Half-Life 2 was released, but after some cajoling from co-workers at Valve, developer Adam Foster has given it a new coat of paint and is releasing it on Steam as a Director's Cut.

"It's taken long enough, but via lots of nagging and prompting from fellow Valve employees I've finally got round to getting MINERVA, the Half-Life 2 mod which got me a job at Valve, up on to Steam," Foster said in an email to Shacknews. "It was originally released in late 2007 to pretty much universal acclaim, but now there's about to be a super-fancy Director's Cut edition with tweaked visuals, bug fixes, better puzzles and all kinds of subtle improvements. Nothing hugely new, just old stuff tidied and polished for this re-release."

The mod, which is still free, tasks you with uncovering the mystery of an underground Combine facility while being fed information via text by a female character named Minerva. To play, you will need Half-Life 2: Episode One installed.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Telltale's original Poker Night at the Inventory rewarded good play with shiny unlockables for Valve's Team Fortress 2, and Poker Night 2 is really upping the ante. With characters from Portal, The Evil Dead, Sam & Max, Venture Bros. and more, the sequel will rifle through their possessions to offer Borderlands 2 heads and skins on all platforms, as well as other platform-specific unlocks.

As it's such a big multimedia cross-over, all sorts of oddities are up for grabs. Borderlands 2 players can pick up Brock Samson's hair, a Max mask, dealer's visor, Portal turret mask, and more, a new trailer reveals. These'll be available on PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

On PC and Mac only, you can also unlock TF2 items including Brock's knife, Chell's springy shoes, Evil Ash's skull helmet, and Handsome Jack's, er, face. The Xbox 360 gets Avatar items such as the Necronomicon and a Portal test chamber. Lastly, the PS3 scores exclusive premium themes.

Plus you can unlock stuff that, you know, actually has an effect on Poker Night 2 itself.

Poker Night 2 is coming to PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 later this month.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

You try hurrying when your knees are splintered and tear rotten flesh with every step. After almost three years of development, Source mod Zombie Master 2 launched over the weekend. The follow-up drags the asymmetrical multiplayer RTS-FPS into the Orange Box version of Valve's engine with new features t'boot.

Zombie Master 2 pits a team of human survivors against hordes of naughty AI zombies, which are spawned and controlled by one single lord of the undead. The humans need to work together to complete objectives, not to mention scavenge for weapons and supplies, while the macabre manager works to stop them. The sole spook supervisor can spawn different strains of zombie with assorted attributes, controlling them from an RTS view.

As well as being spiffier thanks to the updated engine, having previously been on the plain old Half-Life 2 edition of Source, the sequel introduces new weapons for survivors, and the zombie master gets more monsters and traps to trigger. A team of ZM fans released the mod, building upon the code open-sourced after development on the original mod stopped in 2009.

Things are a bit wonky, this being the initial public beta release, but patches are promised. Hit the Mod DB page for more and to download Zombie Master 2.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

You try hurrying when your knees are splintered and tear rotten flesh with every step. After almost three years of development, Source mod Zombie Master 2 launched over the weekend. The follow-up drags the asymmetrical multiplayer RTS-FPS into the Orange Box version of Valve's engine with new features t'boot.

Zombie Master 2 pits a team of human survivors against hordes of naughty AI zombies, which are spawned and controlled by one single lord of the undead. The humans need to work together to complete objectives, not to mention scavenge for weapons and supplies, while the macabre manager works to stop them. The sole spook supervisor can spawn different strains of zombie with assorted attributes, controlling them from an RTS view.

As well as being spiffier thanks to the updated engine, having previously been on the plain old Half-Life 2 edition of Source, the sequel introduces new weapons for survivors, and the zombie master gets more monsters and traps to trigger. A team of ZM fans released the mod, building upon the code open-sourced after development on the original mod stopped in 2009.

Things are a bit wonky, this being the initial public beta release, but patches are promised. Hit the Mod DB page for more and to download Zombie Master 2.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Ever since Oculus Rift was unveiled, modders have been working on unofficially adding VR support to many PC games, including Valve's classic Half-Life 2. However, Valve has been experimenting with VR as well, and plans on launching an official "VR Mode" for its popular free-to-play shooter, Team Fortress 2.

Speaking to Engadget, Valve's Joe Ludwig says that Team Fortress 2 is the first Valve game to get VR support because the community is used to the game's frequent updates. "We use it as a place where we run experiments," Ludwig said.

Of course, Valve's catalog has a number of first-person games that would be ripe for a VR conversion, and that's something Valve is "interested" in. Team Fortress 2 may be the first game to get VR support from the studio, but it likely won't be the last. "We've played a bit in Left 4 Dead; we've played a bit in Half-Life 2. We haven't taken any of those other games to the point where they're anywhere close to being ready to be shipped; we've just sort of experimented with head tracking a little bit."

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Ever since Oculus Rift was unveiled, modders have been working on unofficially adding VR support to many PC games, including Valve's classic Half-Life 2. However, Valve has been experimenting with VR as well, and plans on launching an official "VR Mode" for its popular free-to-play shooter, Team Fortress 2.

Speaking to Engadget, Valve's Joe Ludwig says that Team Fortress 2 is the first Valve game to get VR support because the community is used to the game's frequent updates. "We use it as a place where we run experiments," Ludwig said.

Of course, Valve's catalog has a number of first-person games that would be ripe for a VR conversion, and that's something Valve is "interested" in. Team Fortress 2 may be the first game to get VR support from the studio, but it likely won't be the last. "We've played a bit in Left 4 Dead; we've played a bit in Half-Life 2. We haven't taken any of those other games to the point where they're anywhere close to being ready to be shipped; we've just sort of experimented with head tracking a little bit."

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Valve loves collaborating with third-party partners whenever they come a-knocking. Capcom has announced that the upcoming PC version of Resident Evil 6 will have cross-over features with Left 4 Dead 2. Best of all, the cross-over features will be free for players of either game to access and play.

New to the PC version of Resident Evil 6 is an exclusive mode: "The Mercenaries No Mercy." In this mode, players will be able to play as one of the four survivors of Left 4 Dead 2: Coach, Nick, Ellis, and Rochelle. Not only will players fight against Capcom's horde of undead, but the Witch and Mini Tank will make special "cameo appearances" where they try to kill you. This mode will be available for all PC owners of Resident Evil 6 on April 5th.

Conversely, the PC version of Left 4 Dead 2 will feature new enemies taken from the Resident Evil universe. The Lepotitsa, Napad, and Ogroman will appear in Valve's game "this spring."

One of the RE6 enemies moving to L4D2

Valve's Chet Faliszek said that "we're huge Resident Evil fans, so when the opportunity arose to work directly with Capcom to combine L4D2 and RE6, we jumped at it." Also, this promo is also much, much cooler than Team Fortress 2 hats, we'd argue.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

You, the grizzled PC gamer in the corner, you remember diving around with akimbo pistols in that Half-Life mod in The Good Old Days, don't you? No, not Action Half-Life. No, you big silly, not The Opera. Gosh, no, not Matrix Half-Life. You know, The Specialists! Some of the folks behind that side-diving, slow-motion shooter are now working on a "spiritual successor" mod, Double Action, and want Kickstarter help to finish it faster. You can give an alpha version a go now, too.

Like the Specialists, Double Action aims to recreate the jazzy action scenes of films like The Matrix and John Woo's bang-bang movies. Think dual pistols, slow-motion, and stunts, stunts, stunts!

The Specialists programmer and designer Jorge Rodriguez is leading Double Action, with other folks from the mod working on it too. The Kickstarter campaign (via PC Gamer) is looking for $18,000 so they can take time off work to finish up the initial beta release this summer. Otherwise, it'll be at least 2014 before we can go diving all over the place.

The team is currently making it as a free mod for Valve's Source SDK, which would let anyone who owns any Valve game from Half-Life 2 onwards play. But if funding goes well enough, they hope to buy a Source engine license and release Double Action through Steam as a proper free standalone, not to mention fiddle with the source for new features.

Like most mods, the first beta will be quite limited, with only a few characters, weapons and maps, but the core gameplay of zipping about and shooting men intact.

A mod team turning to Kickstarter is novel, and something I'd quite like to see more of. If this could magically happen about ten years ago, that'd be even better. A lot of modders turned pro, either landing industry jobs or trying to make commercial versions of their mods, and that unique Quake/Half-Life/Unreal Tournament mod scene feeling was lost somewhat. Mods going commercial didn't work out for many either, though some, like Natural Selection 2, have found success.

To see how Double Action is coming along, you can download the latest alpha release from the forums. And hey, development is open so you can chip in too if you fancy.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Continuing its adventures into Linux, Valve has released a penguin-friendly edition of another of its games, bringing the total to five. Could it be Left 4 Dead? Portal 2? HL2: Episode Two? Gosh, even Episode 3? Er, no, it's Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. Still, that's nice, isn't it?

Condition Zero added single-player to the CS world, facing off against snazzy bots. The development was a bit of a mess, started with Rogue Entertainment in 2000 then going to Gearbox, passed to Ritual Entertainment, and finally finished and released by Turtle Rock Studios in 2004. Yes, the gang who went on to create Left 4 Dead. The end result was a so-so mish-mash of scrapped, restarted, reworked and remade content, but shooting men is generally fun.

CZ joins Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Source, and Team Fortress 2 on Linux. If you've already bought the games for Windows or Mac, you now have the Linux version free too.

Valve says it's releasing Linux editions of more of its games "in the coming weeks and months." Good things come to those who wait. Valve's looking to get prototypes of its 'Steam Box' living room PCs--expected to have Linux as at least an option--into people's hands in 3-4 months, so the more Linux games the merrier. Steam now stocks 80 Linux games in total.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

After a lengthy beta period, Valve has finally launched Steam for Linux officially. The client can be downloaded here. To coincide with the official launch of the service, all Linux games sold through Steam have been discounted, including Serious Sam 3: BFE, World of Goo, FTL, Trine 2, Bastion, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and more. Who knew Linux had so many games?

The sale runs until Wednesday, February 21, so feel free to peruse the shop at your leisure. And note: all games on Steam take advantage of "Steam Play," which means single purchases can be played across multiple OSes--Linux, Mac, and Windows. That means anyone can take advantage of the discounted prices.

Of course, given the numerous distributions of Linux available, Valve does note a preference. "For the best experience, run Steam for Linux on Ubuntu 12.04 using an NVIDIA GPU and drivers from NVIDIA," the company told us.

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