Missing Team Fortress 2 models found in game data

Team Fortress 2 Missing ModelsI’ve been amongst the thousands of people enjoying Team Fortress 2 since it was finally released a couple of months ago, and I continue to have a great time with it. The graphics, art direction, gameplay, and general atmosphere are all superb and I never seem to get tired of it.

I was quite intrigued when I saw a thread on the Steam forums that linked to an image of some missing Team Fortress 2 models. That is, the models themselves exist in the game’s resource files but they can’t be viewed anywhere in the game — they don’t have any textures either.

You can tell what a bunch of them are from their shape alone. The Demoman MIRV grenade (dynamite) we saw in one of the original trailers is there, as well as a bear trap, a fire extinguisher, a crowbar, a funky pistol, and what are presumably various types of grenades prior to their removal. I especially like the Medic’s grenade, which has a cross on the top and clearly resembles the Holy Hand Grenade from Worms.

I don’t think Team Fortress 2 would really have been enhanced by having all these glorious grenades in it, though. The game is already very chaotic and explosive, which would only get a billion times worse if every class could throw a stockpile of devastating grenades into areas where enemies will probably be, just like in Team Fortress Classic (You think trying to break through Dustbowl in Team Fortress 2 is bad? Try the Team Fortress Classic version!). The Demoman alone can wreak havoc in most maps thanks to his grenade launcher and sticky bombs.


Super Mario Galaxy: best Wii game yet

Super Mario Galaxy KamekI think it’s fair to say that Super Mario Galaxy is, without a doubt, the best game on the Wii. And from what I’ve seen so far, I’d be willing to say the initial impression shows all signs of the game being much better than its predecessor, Super Mario Sunshine (a game I did like a lot, incidentally).

Quite simply, this is an explosion of nostalgia and awe. From the very beginning, you’ve got memorable locations and characters filling every inch of the screen. You start around Princess Peach’s castle, which is the same one we fondly remember from Super Mario 64, surrounding lake and all. Then the flying battle ships from Super Mario Bros 3 come in, with their classic music to boot (albeit worked into a fantastic new orchestral composition).

As if that wasn’t enough, Kamek of all people — the main adversary in Yoshi’s Island and guardian of Baby Bowser — appears out of nowhere and messes you up. There’re also areas where you’re confined to 2D movement, and it plays a little more like New Super Mario Bros. Heck, even the end-of-area Bowser levels from Super Mario 64 where you scale the floating level to a fight with Bowser at the top are back.

Super Mario GalaxyAll these fantastic memories are continuously fed to you. A lot of the magic is in the music, which is a beautiful soundtrack that works in endless cues and melodies from Mario games of yore. You’ll smile when you see a large egg creeping around with a mysterious green tentacle coming out the back of it, and then realise the underground music from Super Mario Bros is subtlety worked into the backing with a vibraphone.

Super Mario Galaxy definitely doesn’t just rest on its laurels though, and introduces no end of incredibly innovative platforming mechanics which truly go beyond anything we’ve ever seen in a 3D platformer before. The gravity unsurprisingly plays the biggest role in this, with you having to think in increasingly abstract ways to get things done. And yet, despite the complexity of the experience you never feel like it’s unintuitive; weirdly, you almost forget you’re looking at the game upside down or from above a lot of the time (although flat Mario 64-esque levels do exist). This is truly a masterpiece of game design.

The only negative comment I have after getting a few stars into the first world is that I haven’t played it enough to find anything negative! This is quite possibly the best first impression I’ve ever had from a game, with the whole introduction sequence that mixes relatively awesome cutscenes (for a Mario game) with gameplay setting the tone beautifully.

Super Mario Galaxy CaterpillarsAnd speaking of beautiful, damn this game is beautiful. Even though there is disappointingly no anti-aliasing, even on a 32-inch high-definition television it looks fantastic at 480p. It’s perfectly smooth, and the sheer quality of the lighting and artistic direction entirely overrules any technical drawbacks; the camerawork and animation in the introductory cutscene is also simply amazing. I can’t see many people playing Super Mario Galaxy and being disappointed with how it looks, and I personally do really like my graphics and fully appreciate the criticism of many Wii games’ lack of graphical prowess.

One thing’s for sure: this game is going to entertain me for some time to come, and it definitely sits closer in feel, gameplay, and execution to Super Mario 64 than Super Mario Sunshine. Buy it now! If I can’t convince you, the excitedly-narrated Japanese TV commercial clearly will.


Crysis is, basically, an incredible game

Crysis In-Game Gameplay With the single-player demo of Crysis freshly out, I couldn’t help but grab it and give it a spin. Now, most people have heard of Crysis; it’s the game that’s meant to redefine how good a game can look, etc. And it’s pretty hard to argue with this hype, because when cranked up onto the highest settings (and even the not-so-highest settings) it really is an incredibly immersive experience. This game represents a generation of graphics beyond the Xbox 360, beyond the PlayStation 3, and beyond any PC games before it; in pictures it looks great, and in motion it looks incredible.

But that’s not what’s prompted me to write this post. Because you see, Crysis is actually really, really fun, too!

Crysis has essentially taken the formula and groundwork that Far Cry set several years ago, and then expanded upon it. You’re on a huge, paradisal island again, and you’re free to tackle the nasties all over it however you want. You’re directed to areas via checkpoints on your map, many of which are quite far away; this means you have to make a choice about how you want to get there, which invariably involves deciding which of many routes through the jungle, beaches, cliffs, and roads you want to take.

Crysis In-Game Gameplay Wherever you go though, you’ll encounter enemies. Instead of being placed along a path you’re guaranteed to go down as you’d expect in most first-person shooters, they have encampments and patrol routes all over the place: some are permanently based in camps, some drive around the island, etc. So you’re going to run into some of them.

It sounds very reminiscent of Far Cry of course, but because the enemy AI has been developed so much more and their locations on the island have been well chosen and integrated, each encounter feels a lot more dynamic and exciting; indeed, despite the sandbox nature of the game it feels like every last detail is scripted, even though the reality is that it’s not and it’s entirely unpredictable.

The other major advance from Far Cry is the high-tech suit you’re kitted out with. This is the bread and butter of the game, and allows you to play the game in four completely different ways (or a combination of them all). Your suit has four modes: armour, speed, strength, and cloak. Each mode uses up your suit’s general energy reserve in different ways: armour uses it when you take damage, speed uses it when you move insanely fast, strength uses it when you hit or throw something, and cloak uses it when you’re invisible.

The energy metre fills up again within seconds and you can get a lot of mileage from one metre if you play to each mode’s strengths. For example, if you stay still your cloak can last for over a minute, crawling will make it deplete about twice as fast, and if you run it’ll be gone in less than 10 seconds. Speed mode will bump up your normal running speed a touch without using any energy, but if you go into ‘speed of sound’ mode you’ll be drained within seconds, thus making it ideal for dashing between cover and quickly recharging. Armour mode naturally performs its best when under heavy fire, and strength mode is just begging to be used to throw stuff at people rather than just to punch them.

Crysis In-Game Gameplay Cloak mode lets you play the game like a first-person shooter version of Metal Gear Solid, and is my personal favourite. The AI and environment is really geared towards playing the game in a truly stealthy way, so if you’re into that kind of thing like I am you’ll really love it. Playing it in this way becomes even more fun once you realise you can pick up practically anything and use it to beat your enemies to death. You can pick up rocks, turtles (and many other animals), enemies’ helmets, and pretty much anything else you can think of using for a good bludgeoning. Or if you prefer to do it the more traditional way, you can just sneak up behind them, grab them by the neck, and perform a brutal neck snap/throw combo. I hate to say it, but Solid Snake could learn from this guy.

But with all that said, if you don’t like the stealth gameplay so much the other modes will suit you fine. There’s no shortage of bombastic firepower lying around in caches and on corpses, which are an excellent accompaniment for your suit when it’s in armour mode (allowing more damage to be taken as you do your business). If you prefer to be a bit more like Predator or something, speed mode will allow you to dash between trees and other cover at the speed of light, playing a wicked game of psychological torture. Pop up, take an enemy out, and vanish again just as quickly.

And of course, if you’re one of those guys who used the gravity gun in Half-Life 2 all the time, you’ll love the increased power that putting your suit into strength mode brings. It’s no exaggeration to say that in this state you can pick up washing machines, tables, and essentially any reasonably-sized object you can find; then, of course, you throw them at your enemies with all your might, often cracking 90% of their bodies’ bones.

Crysis In-Game Gameplay The fact that the game has an excellent soundtrack that crescendos, climaxes, and slows down during tense moments; fantastic sound effects; great enemy AI that makes each encounter dynamic and unpredictable; and a really strong general structure only adds to the quality, truly making Crysis feel more exciting to play than any single-player first-person shooter I’ve tried in a long time.

All-in-all, the gameplay in Crysis is very sandbox-like just like its predecessor’s was, but Crytek have taken the concept a lot further and made each potential encounter with the enemy more interesting, given you more ways of approaching each one, and of course if you want to go around the environment specifically tracking down encampments to commit genocide on then that’s up to you. The longevity value here is incredible, and I myself have gone through the demo a few times now – something I know a lot of other people are doing.

And this is only the demo. The media (and the demo) clearly shows that the enemies you face will change dramatically as the game progresses, and so will the environment. This may be a sandbox-like game, but it’s one fortified with a solid storyline and changes that’ll continually mix your approach to the game up. If the full game manages to keep up the standard of quality set in the demo, I can very easily see Crysis becoming the game that everyone remembers as the highlight of 2007 for the PC, not BioShock or the Orange Box (despite both being superb).

I highly recommend you check the demo out, with the only negative thing I can think of saying about it being the steep hardware requirements. I think it’s safe to say that pretty much nobody can hope to run this game with the ‘Very High’ settings smoothly on a high resolution, and many will be forced to opt for ‘Medium’. Do experiment with the settings, though; go as high as you can, and then try lowering the ‘Post Processing’, ‘Shadows’, and ‘Textures’ settings first. These seem to make the most crippling difference without actually making the visuals that much worse when lowered. I’m sure Tweak Guides will have a great guide up soon, too.


Tim Schafer’s new game: Brutal Legend

Brutal Legend from Double Fine and Tim Schafer It’s actually Brütal Legend, but that faux ü character is a serious pain to keep typing. Still, the real point here is that the next game from Tim Schafer (Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts…) and his buddies at Double Fine has been confirmed, following some rumours and denial a few weeks ago.

The rumours said that Brutal Legend would star Jack Black as roadie Eddie Riggs, presumably the main character of the game; whether this is voice acting or full-blown appearance recreation isn’t clear. It was also said that he “dies and must escape hell to reach rock heaven”, and that the gameplay is based around “puzzles and strategy in controlling multiple characters”

Kind of ambiguous, but I guess the article inside the magazine will reveal more. Puzzles and strategy were the primary element in Schafer’s earlier adventure classics, but in what capacity they’ll feature in Brutal Legend is anyone’s guess.

Whatever the case, I’ve not played a Tim Schafer game yet that I haven’t loved so I’ll keeping my eye squarely set upon this one. If anyone else has juicy tidbits to share, go ahead!

Update: Scans of the magazine have been awesomely posted by 1P Start, which I’ve mirrored just in case anything happens to them:

Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, Page 7, Page 8, Page 9, Page 10

Lots and lots of information is contained, revealing a lot about the game and also the development process behind it. Sounds great!

Update #2: Oh, man! A video of Brutal Legend has been leaked onto YouTube, setting the tone of the game quite nicely. It doesn’t look at the game too deeply and shows off little in the way of characters/etc (apart from the intriguing-looking guy who speaks at the beginning), but the art style looks fantastic and I really look forward to seeing the HD version of this video so the details can really shine. Check it out!

Update #3: Heh.

Update #4: The video has been taken down as per a request by the suits; however, it’s still available on Game Trailers (Sorry Tim!).

Update #5: And at last, Sierra’s official Brutal Legend site is up, officially confirming the game at last (although press releases are apparently yet to circulate). Also includes a high-definition version of the trailer! It looks absolutely stunning. And this guy is already absolutely legendary in my eyes.


Battlefield 3 details leaked; set in modern warfare

Battlefield: Bad Company engine possibly in Battlefield 3 Although EA has unsurprisingly refused to comment, Digital Battle has received a tip that is alleged to be a document of planned features for Battlefield 3. The tip is a “three page document” that was “prepared for investors”, and “details basic features of BF3”.

Having been a huge Battlefield fan since the advent of Battlefield 2 in 2005, this is great news. Although I liked Battlefield 2142 a lot and thought it easily surpassed the gameplay of BF2, there’s no doubt in my mind that the world and atmosphere of BF2 was much better. It was kind of disheartening to leave behind the clear blue skies and sandy beaches of BF2 and go to the dreary, cold, frozen world of BF2142.

Fortunately Battlefield 3 is set to take place in the modern day like Battlefield 2, which I’m really looking forward to. Notable things mentioned on the big list o’ features include:

  • It’ll run on a developed version of the 360/PS3 Battlefield: Bad Company engine, which has destructible buildings; click the image above for screenshots of it in action
  • It’ll have 48 vehicles
  • Most maps will be based in the Middle East, including a map called ‘Burning Baghdad’
  • There’ll be extensive soldier customisation akin to an RPG
  • There’ll be an evolved unlock system which not only includes 22 new weapons, but also camouflage, helmets, etc
  • 80 players per server will be entirely possible

A teaser trailer is apparently slated for January 2008, so I guess we’ll see in a few months whether or not this is bogus. It does sound pretty good though, and I’m all for a Battlefield re-interpretation of modern warfare that incorporates the gameplay improvements in BF2142 and more.

Things that might cause some contention are that only NATO and the MEC will feature as playable teams this time around, and that there’re only eight maps. But considering most of the maps are said to be city maps, that this engine supports absolutely huge maps, that the servers could very well be hosting 80 people, and that the maps could be destructible, I reckon it’ll be more than enough. You just have to look at it in context.


New computer; going crazy on computer games

GeForce 8800 GTX As those who I chat to regularly are aware, I’ve just upgraded my computer and for the first time since late 2004 have a machine that is considered quite powerful. As such, I’m doing a hell of a lot of catching up by going through games I’ve had in my sights but’ve been unable to play enjoyably, and also getting into new ones.

At the moment I’m getting through Command & Conquer 3, which is extremely good like I guessed it would be and is definitely going to be reviewed once I thunder through to the very end. I’m going to start reviewing and commenting on newer games a lot more often now, since not being able to play them kind of put a damper on my ability to do so before!

Alongside Command & Conquer 3, I’m also getting back into Battlefield 2 which I played quite intensively in 2005 but soon grew fed up of it running like a dog on the lowest settings; now it runs very smoothly on 1600×1200 (boo to no proper widescreen support) with everything maxed out. I’d give the exact frames per second but I use vsync and it only reports up to 60; all I can say is that it’s always over 60. If you want to hunt me down, the name I play under is RyanJW and I stick to European servers – usually ones in the UK. I play pretty frequently.

Games I’m really looking forward to right now include Quake Wars and Team Fortress 2, both of which I’m almost guaranteed to spend a mountain of hours on. Once I get a new design for this place sorted out I’ll have a proper section on the sidebar which lists my game IDs, since it’s always more fun playing with people you have some kind of link with!

For those who’re interested, the specifications of my new machine are:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4ghz Socket 775 FSB1066 4MB Cache
  • Corsair 2GB DDR2 XMS2-6400C4 TwinX 2×1GB
  • Asus P5B Deluxe WIFI Socket 775 Core 2 Duo P965 FSB1066 DDR2 SATA Audio ATX
  • BFG GeForce 8800 GTX OverClocked (600MHz) 768MB GDDR3 HDTV/Dual DVI PCI-Express
  • 300GB 7200rpm PATA Samsung hard drive

The newest game I’ve actually ran on this new PC is Colin Mcrae: Dirt, which is incredibly beautiful and also has the usual solid, authentic-feeling Colin Mcrae gameplay. As always I initially did nothing but smash into things, compounded by the fact I was playing with a keyboard. It’s really satisfying once you get the hang of it though, and you realise that a racing game doesn’t always have to be about pure speed. Or even tipped in that direction whatsoever, for that matter.I couldn’t resist taking some screenshots of myself going mental and smashing my car into a thousand pieces, so look below for a tasty selection; click them for larger versions.

All screenshots were taken ingame with everything set to ultra. Running like this at 1920×1200 takes me down to 25 fps, although I could easily bump that up by running a few things on high instead of ultra. In all honesty, when I closed the game down to change the settings to high and then went back in I didn’t notice a difference at all; I think I only would if I literally took the same screenshot in both modes and compared directly.

Colin Mcrae: Dirt

More screenshots are available: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

You might notice that some very fancy-looking blurring has been applied to the video, making it look very film-like. This isn’t a side effect of the fact that the screenshots are derived from a video I recorded, but is actually a real-time effect used throughout the game. The result is a game that looks a lot smoother than if it were running at the same frames per second without it as the elaborate blurring fools the eye in the same way that makes films and television programmes look totally smooth despite only running at 30 fps (amongst other things). In other words, running at 25 fps in this game doesn’t feel like running at 25 fps in, say, Counter-Strike: Source.


Get Beyond Good and Evil (and others) for free

There’s a mildly insane deal going on at Savapoint at the moment, a shop I’d never heard until today but nonetheless seems legitimate going off a quick bit of Google research. Basically, you can get a bunch of games for free with the £2.99 postage being the only cost. I have no idea what their motive is here (other than that the games are obviously a bit old), but a partial list of games on offer is below the beautiful Beyond Good and Evil image below:

Beyond Good and Evil Free

  • Beyond Good and Evil
  • Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
  • Brothers in Arms: Road To Hill 30
  • Deus Ex
  • Empire Earth
  • Tron 2.0
  • Rainbow Six
  • Civilization: Call to Power II
  • Starsky & Hutch

Now, as anyone who knows me is aware, I think Beyond Good and Evil is an absolutely fantastic game, and most who’ve played it reckon it’s amongst the best games ever made. I personally rank it alongside super-classics like Grim Fandango and Monkey Island, which should be an indication of how much I think of it – unless you’re an uncultured swine.

I seriously can’t recommend enough that you pick up this game. If it takes a free offer tempt you, so be it. Just play the damned thing, preferably on a console with as old-style television (it hides any graphical inadequacies better), but really anything will do. It was released on the Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube and PC so there’s not much excuse for not picking it up for one of them. Even if you went into a shop it’d probably cost you about £5.

Check out the free stuff page (includes non-game items), or ideally skip right to the Beyond Good and Evil page. You may also want to read my older post about Beyond Good and Evil.


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