A Fresh Look At The Long-Awaited Half-Life RemakeWe've been waiting for Black Mesa for a long, loooong while now—the hugely ambitious fan-made mod has an uncertain fate, but eight years after beginning work, the team is still working on the game.

The folks behind Black Mesa have released these images to Facebook to coincide with a new interview over at Polygon, where project leader Carlos Montero once again talks about the long, agonizing process of making the mod/game/thing.

Check out these screens—it's still not entirely clear how well the game actually works (particularly based on the gameplay footage that surfaced a little while back), but it sure is fun to see scenes from Half-Life looking so purdy:

A Fresh Look At The Long-Awaited Half-Life Remake A Fresh Look At The Long-Awaited Half-Life Remake A Fresh Look At The Long-Awaited Half-Life Remake A Fresh Look At The Long-Awaited Half-Life Remake A Fresh Look At The Long-Awaited Half-Life Remake A Fresh Look At The Long-Awaited Half-Life Remake


Giving Portal's Wheatley a Giant Robot BodyPortal 2's Wheatley doesn't really have a body. He's the robotic equivalent of a floating head in a jar. Which makes it easy for him to whizz about the game's levels, but makes it hard to craft a decent action figure out of the guy.

So custom toy builder KodyKoala went and built him one. Using a Wheatley key chain as a base, he took parts from other figures and constructed a glowing, Portal-gun-equipped torso and limbs, rounding out the figure with his own Companion Cube.

Kodykoala's Wheatley Body [Kodykoala, via GameFreaks]

Giving Portal's Wheatley a Giant Robot Body Giving Portal's Wheatley a Giant Robot Body Giving Portal's Wheatley a Giant Robot Body

There's the odd pirate reference here and there in Valve's DOTA 2, but that wasn't enough for this mod. No, the creators of the STS Pirate Language Pack wanted to essentially re-localise the game, so it could be understood by toothless nautical bandits of the 17th century.

Serving as a "complete rewrite of the entire language in Dota 2", the pack has, after two years of development and a test run last year, been released to the public and made available on the Steam Workshop. Why two years? Because it's a Steam-wide project for the services baked-in localisation, meaning that while a DOTA 2 patch is the first to hit the internet, there are more planned, with Team Fortress 2 next.

If you're in the DOTA 2 beta, you can try it out below.

STS Pirate Language Pack [Steam Workshop]


Pandemic is a Half-Life 2 movie made by anklove. While it's got its fair share of effects, this isn't some attempt at a blockbuster action flick. Instead, it does what Eastern European movies do best: turn the screws on a desolate, bleak landscape.

So, yeah, this isn't a feel-good project. At the end of four minutes you'll probably want to go play Half-Life 2 again, sure, but you'll also probably want to go find someone special and give them a hug. Maybe in a green, sunny park.

[thanks Tim!]

Off-Kilter's Unlikely Crossover Fan Fiction Battles feature has traditionally involved written fan fiction, but today we have something completely different, and slightly wonderful. It's episodes one and two of My Little Portal, where friendship is science.

It's the battle of the all-powerful sentient AI robot things, as CELesTIA does battle against DISCoRD, a twisted sequel to the two-part episode that kicked off the second season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The music is lovely (really dig the electronic MLP theme remix by psychgoth), the voice acting is — well, as good as voice acting is going to get without professional voice actors, and the animation is better than most of us could do.

Christian David Cerda wrote, directed and animated this wondrous clash of two compatible cultures, peppering the scenes with video game references to keep things nice and spicy. It could probably be tightened up a bit (some of the scenes linger far too long in silence), but it's not bad for a bunch of friends praising Portal and ponies through creative means.

And because I know you all hate suspense, here's episode two. Enjoy! Or don't be so angry.

Thanks Discord for passing these along!


I Think We All Know the Punchline to This Portal PictureReddit user Pheadlessg is to be married on Saturday. His fiancée allowed him one video game-themed gesture at the wedding reception, so he chose to dress these Portal turret figures from ThinkGeek in a bridal veil, hat and bow-tie and use them as cake toppers. Assuming they actually intend to serve one ...

I'm getting married in six days. Finally got round to making our cake toppers. [Reddit]


Now You Can Play With Left 4 Dead And Gears of Wars Characters In Minecraft for Xbox

Skin Pack #2 is out for the Xbox 360 version of Minecraft today. It'll run you 160 Microsoft Points and come with the following skins, via Microsoft:

1. Enderman Man – Minecraft
2. Pig Man – Minecraft
3. Sheep Man – Minecraft
4. Naked Sheep Man – Minecraft
5. Spider Man – Minecraft
6. General Akamoto – Skulls of the Shogun
7. Otus – Owlboy
8. Meat Boy – Super Meat Boy
9. Agent Cobalt- Cobalt
10. Zapp – Gamma Bros
11. Buzz – Gamma Bros
12. Glorg – Glorg
13. The Player – Retro City Rampage
14. Spelunky Guy – Spelunky
15. Green Knight – Castle Crashers
16. Orange Knight – Castle Crashers
17. Blue Knight – Castle Crashers
18. Red Knight – Castle Crashers
19. Marcus Fenix – Gears of War 3
20. Skorge – Gears of War
21. Anya Stroud – Gears of War
22. Damon Baird – Gears of War: Judgment
23. Joanna Dark – Perfect Dark
24. Joanna Dark (dress) – Perfect Dark
25. Joanna Dark – Perfect Dark Zero
26. Elvis – Perfect Dark
27. Juno – Jet Force Gemini
28. Vela – Jet Force Gemini
29. Lupus – Jet Force Gemini
30. Horstachio – Viva Piñata
31. Pretztail – Viva Piñata
32. Fizzlybear – Viva Piñata
33. Bill – Left4Dead
34. Louis – Left4Dead
35. Francis – Left4Dead
36. Zoey – Left4Dead
37. Hunter – Left4Dead
38. Boomer – Left4Dead
39. Witch – Left4Dead
40. Agent Level 5 – Crackdown 2
41. Pilot
42. Sailor
43. Pirate
44. Ninja
45. Elf

I like the sound of Meat Boy. And Elf.

Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition Skin Pack 2 Now Available! [PlayXBLA]

First things first: headphone users beware.

[Video spoilers] Granted, this guy probably should have known to check that nifty little camp spot. And nobody likes campers anyway. But it's still pretty hilarious that he got caught with his pants down, so to speak.

How to shit your pants in CS:GO [YouTube via Reddit]


What Makes A Good Knife Kill In First-Person ShootersWhat's the big deal about Counter-Strike? Wasn't it just a Half-Life mod?

Well that Half-Life mod was so popular that Valve developed it into a standalone, multiplayer first-person shooter. People lost hours of their lives playing version 1.6 of the game. And then when Valve released Counter-Strike: Source, an update to 1.6 that ran on their new Source engine, people lost hours of their lives playing that, too.

Now, almost a decade after Source's release, that upgrade proved popular enough to bear what appears to be its carbon copy in Global Offensive, which happily retains the beauty of the knife kills.

So why were all those first-person shooter experiences so popular? It's simple: because they were simple. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive—just like Source, then 1.6 before it—is a simple first-person shooter. There are no perks. No levels. No unlocks. Your weaponry and gear are based on money you spend at the beginning of each round. Money that you accumulate with kills.

This design makes CS: GO unlike its first-person shooter competitors. The Call of Dutys and Battlefields that even the most infrequent of gamers recognize are vastly different from a game like GO. GO puts its players on a fairly equally footing. Your wins are determined by your skills as a shooter, and your ability to identify what weapon you're most proficient with. Not everyone is as handy with the infamous AWP, a one-hit kill sniper known all too well in the Counter-Strike community. Heck, I can sometimes score more kills with a Desert Eagle pistol than I can with my usual preferred M4 rifle. But I'm just weird like that.

(Knifing in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive)

It all comes down to how you play. And as you practice—burning through the classic mode of Counter Terrorist versus Terrorist in a plant-the-bomb, defuse-the-bomb, rescue-the-hostages scenario as well as the newer modes—you get progressively better. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is definitely a competitive first-person shooter. It's a competitive FPS that makes you feel proud of your kill/death ratio, knowing that it all had to do with raw skill. Even little details—like being able to run faster with a knife equipped rather than your bulkier rifle—solidify this claim. There's an emphasis on realism—like the new addition of your scope turning hazy while walking—but the emphasis on giving every player an equal footing is what really makes the game what it is.

That realism continues in one important, controversial way. The knife kill.

The Controversy of the Knife Kill

Unlike Call of Duty and Battlefield, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and its predecessors require you to physically equip your knife in order to use it. That one second required to switch over to equip the knife—either scrolling through on your mouse or hitting the hotkey—makes a significant difference as opposed to the automatically triggered knives in CoD. It makes the knife kill that much harder to pull off than the other first-person shooters of our world.

(Kill streak rampage with the ballistic knife in Black Ops)

Another key difference is how many FPS games will send your body lurching toward the enemy with the click of a joystick. It's basically an aim assist. Especially with the addition of the commando perk in MW2, players would become annoyingly deadly with a knife attack. GO, on the other hand, requires you to run or sneak up to your enemy.

Requiring the knife killer to actually approach an enemy at normal speed is yet another example of GO's attempt to make the shooter experience less cheesy. You'll have to use a bit of tact, sneakiness, and finesse to catch someone off guard. It doesn't feel like CoD where you shoot someone to smithereens and yet the panic knifer still gets the upperhand. Before you know it, they've launched into your body with superhuman strength and speed, leaving you virtually flat on your back and cursing in real life. I've seen players wipe an entire team out in Black Ops using the ballistic knife, either skewering enemies from a distance or slashing them in closer range. GO's knife kills are more celebrated events, whereas in Call of Duty it might just be today's opted slaughtering method.

Then there are other issues. Should the knife kill be a one-hit kill from the back, two stabs required of the front? For lurching knife kills: what range should a game allow you to be in relation to your enemy to pull the knifing off? Knifing is an intricate art in first-person shooters, the nature of which is quibbled over by many FPS fans. Modern Warfare 2 introduced even more complications with the addition of attached and ranged knives. Now you'll have to contend with knife experts who have a new set of knifey options with varying damage statistics, behaviors, etc. Granted, at least players have to manually equip the knives in that new stock brought on by MW2 as opposed to the standard, automatically-equipped knife you start off with in recent CoD games. Though while tactical knives had to be equipped, throwing knives could be aimed. So there's that.

(Throwing knife montage in Modern Warfare 2)

Counter-Strike has always employed a more tactful, measured approach to knife kills. You can pull off a one-hit kill from the back, and certain sweet spots will do enormous damage, but you can't always dominate a player just because you have a knife in hand and have managed to get within slicing range. Your enemy may just surprise you. A de-emphasis on the one-hit kill makes knifing in GO a much more complex procedure. You'll really have to plan it out appropriately to pull it off.

And since we're on the topic of melee kills: what happened to knocking people out with the butt of your gun? Halo encourages a gun-butt tactic to finish off a kill. The game will even allow you to one-hit melee-kill fodder enemies. I can appreciate that methodology.

The knife kill in first-person shooters is a point to pick with many gamers. It can be infuriating to dominate the shooting field just to be left sprawled on the ground from a lucky knife hit. People argue that there is no strategy, no skill involved in the lurch-knife (known as the panic knife) move. If you're one such player, you'd be doing yourself a favor to check out GO's knifing method. For once, you can actually appreciate being killed by a knife, knowing that you have to give your murderer props for managing to land the hit just right.

(Aaron Amat | Shutterstock)

The Triumphant Return of Half-Life 2 LEGOWe featured the work of LEGO builder ORRANGE back in 2009, with his brilliant take on Half-Life, but a recent playthrough of the game has got him returning to the universe to take more pictures.

So thanks, Half-Life 2. And thanks ORRANGE, for reminding us all that a world in which these sets and minifigs aren't commercially available is a cold, dark place.

ORRANGE. [Flickr, via VGN]


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