If you pre-order Deus Ex: Human Revolution on Steam, you'll receive eight new, Deus Ex-themed items in Team Fortress 2.
These items are available separately from Team Fortress 2's in-game Mann Co. Store, and through item drops and crafting.
Half of the Deus Ex items are cosmetic: Deus Specs (glasses), The Company Man (baseball cap), The Nanobalaclava (helmet - Spy only) and The Purity Fist (robotic arm - Heavy only).
The other four items affect gameplay. The Machina sniper rifle is for the Sniper class and, at full charge, adds 15 per cent damage and player-penetrating bullets. But The Machina uses exposing tracer rounds and will only go bang when zoomed.
The Diamondback hand gun (looks like a Magnum) is for the Spy. This grants a critical shot for each building destroyed with your sapper attached. But in general use, The Diamondback has a minus 15 per cent damage penalty and no chance for random critical hits.
The Widowmaker and The Short Circuit are for the Engineer. The Widowmaker (is it a shotgun?) adds 100 per cent of damage to ammo and requires no reload. But the ammo cost is expensive: -60 metal each shot.
The Short Circuit attaches to your hand and fires an electric field that damages projectiles and players. But there's chance for random critical hits and you'll lose 35 metal each shot.
Team Fortress 2 has turned free-to-play, which means you've little excuse not to at least try it. Then consider Eurogamer's recent 10/10 Team Fortress 2 re-review, and you have even fewer excuses not to dive in. Most old PCs can handle it.
You can now trade in virtual items for other virtual items through Steam.
Steam Trading Beta lets you do that, and trade Steam gifts: games on Steam you've bought but not yet added to your Games Library.
Currently Team Fortress 2 items and Steam Gifts can be traded.
You can try it out now by going to Steam, then Settings, then opting into Steam Trading Beta.
"Now your Steam Community profile will have an item inventory, and you'll be able to view the item inventories of every public profile in the Steam community," Valve said.
You can invite people to trade through Group Chat, and trade with anyone in your Friends List who's also opted in.
To do so, you need to right click on their name and select Invite to Trade. Once the offer is accepted, a trade window will open up.
There's more on the Trading Beta FAQ.
In the introduction to our very first Game of the Week, I wrote this: "If there's nothing at all we can recommend that week - hey, it might happen - we'll take the opportunity to highlight something from previous weeks that you (or we) might have missed."
How about something from previous years?
It's not even like there really is nothing to recommend this week. Ms. Splosion Man definitely has its fans and would be a worthy contender, right? So why am I just not feeling it?
I suppose it's the suspicion that, as Simon wrote, this sequel has simply been "freshened by lipstick and a bow". Until I read his review, I had no idea that Ms. Pac-Man was an unauthorized rip-off made without Namco's permission by its impatient distributor Midway. Sure, she's canonised now, but it's a dangerous spirit for Twisted Pixel to invoke.
Me? I returned to Gran Turismo 5 this week, after a friend told me about the Seasonal Events: effectively new single-player playlists for the racer that dole out unbelievable quantities of experience and money. That 1967 Lamborghini Miura Concept is within reach at last!
I've been having fun, and am struck by how exciting a drive Polyphony's grand folly remains. But I'm also feeling a little uncomfortable. I just need to do 30 laps of Le Mans to get my shiny new fake possession... Maybe this recovering World of Warcraft player isn't quite ready to bring the grind back into his life.
But it made me think. Most of us games writers don't stick with games long after release, because something else comes along that requires our attention. I suspect the same is true for many of you readers, being people of taste and curiosity with an insatiable hunger for everything gaming has to offer.
But few are the games that stand still now, and even in some high-profile cases like GT5, it's only those games' communities that are keeping track. In 2011, a game doesn't have to be a subscription-funded MMO to be an entirely different proposition four years down the line.
That's why, when a reader emailed us requesting a re-review of a multiplayer shooter from 2007, I was only too happy to organise it.
"Now Team Fortress 2 has gone free-to-play, you should do a re-review of it. I came across your old review of it from 2007 and it almost reads like a review of some older, forgotten game that inspired TF2," wrote Ollie Fox.
Rich Stanton's Team Fortress 2 re-review agreed with Ollie, booting Tom's original 9 up to a 10 and dropping some other heavy numbers: 200 updates! 29 new maps!
"There isn't one game called Team Fortress 2. There are hundreds," Rich wrote. "Its famously long development time used to see it compared to Duke Nukem Forever, but that doesn't hold water any more: Duke's finished. The development of TF2 goes on and on... It understands that persistence is as much about personality as power, and is one of the most consistently surprising and inventive games you'll ever play."
Team Fortress 2 players - and sadly, that means players of the PC (and now Mac) game, which has long left the static console versions behind - don't need us to remind us how great a multiplayer shooter it is. Some would claim that all those guys playing Halo, COD and Battlefield are, in a sense, kidding, and looking at TF2's razor-sharp dynamics and never-ending fountain of free content, you can see what they mean.
But this isn't just about quality. While all eyes were on Left 4 Dead or Portal 2, and all voices were pleading for Half-Life 3, Valve has been using TF2 to experiment with what its Steam platform can really do for a game. It's the embodiment of Gabe Newell's "entertainment as a service, not a product" maxim, an organic, evolving relationship between game and community that few outside of the MMO genre have fully exploited.
Free-to-play is part of this philosophy, but don't get hung up on the economics. It's more about the happy fact that, in this brave new world, Valve has been more focused on how to keep TF2 great than how to make more money out of the next one. Hell, it's even still making wonderful trailers for it, four years down the line.
What TF2 really stands for is not that micro-transactions are the future. It's this: Games don't have to die any more. Great games can live forever. And you'll get back what you put in.
So if there's another living, breathing online game out there that you think we should catch up with, please let us know: in the comments, through the contact form, or by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Team Fortress 2 has dislodged perennial chart hog Counter-Strike from the top of Steam's most-played list.
As noted by PC Gamer, the announcement earlier today that Valve's team-based shooter has gone free-to-play sent the game rocketing from the lower reaches of the top 10 to the number one spot, which Counter-Strike has owned since time immemorial.
It seems, for today at least, the move to a microtransaction-supported business model has won the game tens of thousands of new users.
At the time of writing 69,962 users were playing Team Fortress 2, compared to 54,754 on Counter-Strike.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.