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Valve has made its cartoon online shooter Team Fortress 2 free-to-play for PC and Mac.


The switch comes some four years after release.


The game changes alongside the “Über Update”, the largest of the 200-odd updates given to the game over its lifetime.


It provides new players with training and offline practice modes so they, Valve hopes, will find the online arena less intimidating.


Team Fortress 2 launched in 2007 as part of the superb The Orange Box compilation.


Eurogamer's Team Fortress 2 review fired a point blank 9/10.

Video: TF2 now F2P.

Video: Team Fortress 2 - Meet the medic.

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Multiplayer FPS Team Fortress 2 gets a replay system today via a new PC and Mac update, developer Valve has announced.


As detailed on the game's official site, the Replay System lets users record and edit gameplay clips before uploading them to YouTube or Steam for all to see.


"Replay-enabled servers record every round of the action, allowing you to make movies of your awesome performance (and the embarrassing performances of others) in the Replay Editor, using different camera angles, sexy motion blur and antialiasing," reads the launch blurb.


The update also adds in eight replay-centric achievements and there are new in-game items up for grabs too. If one of your clips racks up 1000 YouTube views you'll get a special hat, whereas editing your first bit of footage will earn you a new set of taunts.


As an incentive to get recording, Valve has called for entries to the inaugural Saxxy Awards. There are 20 categories including Most Inventive Kill, Best Team Costume and Most Epic Fail, with winners snagging virutal gold trophies. Take a look at the trailer below for more on that.


Entry information and an FAQ explaining how the Replay System works are also up on the official site.

Video:

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Valve has thanked the Team Fortress 2 community for raising an incredible $430,543.65 for the Japanese disaster relief fund.


That number represents the sale of three limited hats and two noisemakers - items added to the Mann Co. Team Fortress 2 game store at the end of March.


"Nice work, everyone!" wrote Valve on the TF2 blog. "It's been inspiring to watch gamers around the world come together for such a worthy cause."


The hats and noisemakers disappeared on 6th April.

Video: Team Fortress 2.

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Last week Valve started offering Team Fortress 2 players three different pieces of limited edition in-game headwear, with all proceeds going to the post-tsunami relief effort in Japan.


According to a message on the official Team Fortress 2 site, the promotion has now raised a whopping $300,000.


"Wow. Seriously, people, WOW," read the post. "We knew you had it in you, but we're still amazed you've raised over $300,000 so far.


"Take a BOW, TF2 community - because that is an incredible, frankly astounding, amount of money from a dedicated number of gamers, to one heck of a lot of people in some real need right now."


The three items will be available until 6th April if you still want to get involved. The Humanitarian's Hachimaki is going for the local equivalent of $7.99, the Benefactor's Kanmuri $19.99 and Magnanimous Monarch $99.99. The hats can be equipped by all classes but can't be traded or used for crafting.


Valve is donating the proceeds to the disaster fund set up by the American Red Cross.

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On Valve's website sits a profile page, and on that profile page sits an entry for Left 4 Dead writer Chet Faliszek. It reads: "We are all still trying to figure out exactly what it is that Chet does at Valve, but at the very least he occupies office space on the 11th floor as self-proclaimed Mr. Awesome."


Mr. Awesome? Where does that come from?


"So our old HR person wrote that for me, and it was the example of a really bad profile to put up," Mr. Awesome told Eurogamer. "Then she wouldn't let me change it."


"The day of Half-Life: Episode 1," he continued, "that's where it came from. They were handing out recognition for Episode 1. No one knew what to say, so the first three or four people fumbled around. I just went up and I thanked myself for being awesome.


"Then other people who didn't know what to say just thanked me for being awesome."


So, what does Mr. Awesome do, apart from co-write alongside Erik Wolpaw on games such as Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Portal, Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2 and the upcoming Portal 2?


"That description came after Half-Life: Episode 1. A lot of people didn't understand the part I played in that, with the response rules speech, which is on the fly speech.


"It was semi-accurate at the time. Now people know what I do. I walk around the hall with my iron fist, keeping people in line."


The Mr. Awesome description has been on Valve's website for five years. "I have to re-write it," Mr. Awesome said. "We don't even have an 11th floor anymore. We've moved buildings. But I don't want people to be able to find me."


Faliszek and writing partner Erik Wolpaw have been with Valve for six-and-a-half years. The duo, who grew up together, were hired after bumping into Valve through their website Old Man Murray.


"Out of the blue, in 2004, Gabe [Newell, Valve boss] just emailed us and said, do you want to come work for Valve?" Faliszek revealed.


"Gabe's initial email really was one line. We asked, can you explain more? "No. Just come out."


"I figured, what the hell," Wolpaw added. "We were just like, we'll just give it a shot and see what it's like. Seven years later, it's fine."

Video:

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Mega developer Valve has launched a public beta for online shooter Team Fortress 2 over three years after its release.


Why? To test "new technologies without the risk of breaking the game", the developer wrote on the Team Fortress 2 blog.


Valve's testing class, item and weapon changes. Mysterious "higher level, game-wide experiments" are going on, too.


And as with all betas, the developer wants your feedback.


"As you've probably seen by now, we like to change things in Team Fortress 2," Valve said. "A lot. And while we're perfect most of the time, we occasionally get something wrong. One reason for this is we just don't get enough data from internal play testing, and another is that we spend too much time watching Tom Bui serenades on YouTube."


The beta is open to all who own the game. To install, launch Steam, open the Library and install "Team Fortress 2 Beta" from your games list.


Tom turned up a 9/10 in Eurogamer's 2007 Team Fortress 2 review. The game was bundled with Portal, Half-Life 2, Episode One and Episode Two in stunning compilation The Orange Box.

Video:

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Team Fortress 2 players beware! The game's first AI boss beheading your way, clippity-clop, clippity-clop.


He's the Horseless Headless Horsemann, a long lost Mann family member, and he appears randomly on spooky Halloween map Mann Manor. And he wants to kill you - providing the Manor's exploding pumpkins don't get you first.


Those brave enough can face the Horseless Headless Horsemann in battle. Slay him and an achievement awaits. It's called "Sleepy Holl0WND".


In addition to Triple-H (as I'm calling him), the Team Fortress 2 Halloween celebrations offer loads of themed costumes and items. You can buy them at the Mann Co. Store, and many will will be made by the community - we've already heard of the riches that can be earned by creative and enterprising fans there.

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In two weeks five modders from the Team Fortress 2 community made between $39,000 and $47,000 selling items through the game's new Mann Co. Store.


The royalty figures were so high they exceeded PayPal deposit restrictions, so Valve flew the highest earners - Spencer Kern and Steven Skidmore - to its door to hand the cheques over in person.


"It was completely mind-blowing, the size of the return that we're getting on these things," Kern gushed to Gamasutra.


The Mann Co. Store was added to Team Fortress 2 (PC) at the very end of September. It enables player-to-player trading and provides a storefront for modders to sell their TF2 content. Creators keep 25 per cent of the money made.


"It benefits us because it grows the community, right? These [content creators] benefit, but we benefit too," reasoned Valve brain Gabe Newell.


"Team Fortress 2 is a better product because we have community contributions in it. They're going to go off and listen to what the community says about how they can do that better, and we can draft along, as we both benefit."


Newell reckons the idea will eventually catch on: "Once people ... realise this is about their community, and that the right people are getting the benefits, ... after a while, they'll say, 'This is really how these kinds of communities need to work.'"


Team Fortress 2, a caricature-styled multiplayer shooter, was released to wide acclaim in the autumn of 2007. Three years on, the PC TF2 community is as healthy and enthusiastic as it ever was, thanks to devoted support from Valve. The same isn't true of the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game, as the closed nature of Xbox Live and PlayStation Network has made it impossible for Valve to unleash the same amount of downloadable support.

Tom Bramwell reviewed Team Fortress 2 for Eurogamer.

Video: The characters of Team Fortress 2.

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