Guy makes Gordon Freeman costume for halloween

Gordon Freeman Costume Ah yes, this is what I like to see. While I’ve been busy obsessing over Twilight Princess videos, Nintendo 64s and global thermonuclear war, I’ve forgotten what really matters in life. What drives us all. What brings communities together as one happy family, arms wrapped around one another. Dressing up as video game characters.

Now, anyone who’s seen my older posts is probably aware of the fact that I’m not a big fan of cosplay. There’s something about dressing up as video game characters for no particular reason that unsettles me. But this is different! It’s Halloween at the end of the month. Yes people, now’s the time to go crazy on those video game costumes.

Today’s item of choice is a Gordon Freeman costume, based on the namesake main character of the Half-Life games. Click the big thumbnail and you’ll get a nice big comparison of the real Gordon Freeman and the costume that I took the liberty of producing. As you can see it’s rather accurate, although some proportions are a bit off. And of course the fact that he’s even made a headcrab earns double points!

Thanks to Planet Half-Life for bringing this beauty to my attention. Although it’s not a massive deal for many here in the UK, I hear you guys in the US get quite giddy over Halloween. Any of you planning on grabbing some video game gear for the event?

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7-minute trailer for Zelda: Twilight Princess

Zelda: Twilight Princess trailer Sorry about the hiatus in updates guys. I’ve had what I can only assume is flu this week and have been coughing, sneezing, headaching and occasionally hallucinating like a git. It’s largely gone now, but the leftover headaches are still putting a damper on me. As such I’ve not felt very motivated to get through my RSS feeds and update my blog — sorry! One thing I’ll post about to get back on track though is an absolutely superb fan-made trailer for Zelda: Twilight Princess, which amounts to a whopping seven minutes of footage and is accompanied by some random movie soundtrack-like music. It does the job though!

Although the video was evidently posted in June and features quite a bit of old footage, which is in turn from the GameCube version and hasn’t enjoyed the Wii enhancements, it manages to show off a massive variety of gameplay and locations in the game that’ve been carefully chosen from the spoiler-filled demonstrations and such that most of us have avoided thus far to produce a spoiler-free but highly impressive video. The huge contrast in locales is as abundant as ever, and it certainly looks like a world that’ll be an absolute joy to explore as Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker were. Minus the sailing in Wind Waker, anyway.

This video has really added to the general feeling of excitement I have about Twilight Princess. Not only does it look visually superb even in the outdated footage, but the game just looks massively fun. It’s very reminiscent of Ocarina of Time, yet takes that world so much further and makes it all look richer. Backed up with what we now know is at least 70 hours of gameplay and a larger game world than both Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker, the possibility of this being the best Zelda yet and consequently one of the best games ever remains very real. December really can’t come soon enough.

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DEFCON: a simulation of global thermonuclear war

DEFCON Although DEFCON hasn’t been on the radar for a particularly large amount of people, those who keep an eye on Introversion (also responsible for Uplink and Darwinia) have probably been quietly anticipating it. I’m one of them, and having just tried out the demo I am fairly impressed by how well they’ve managed to convey the atmosphere of carrying out a nuclear war.

The essence of the game is simple: you’re somebody high up the food chain sat deep within a bunker in your country of choice, and using an elaborate map (as you’ve seen in films) you watch global war unfold before you. What exactly’s happening is left to your imagination; whatever the case, some kind of war is happening down there and you’re the person who must coldly protect your nation from the biggest threat of all, while also deciding when and where to fire your own. All actions have consequences, and when we’re talking about nuclear ICBMs you can’t expect a country you just devastated to have much mercy when retaliating. It’s tense, and as the official site says: nobody wins, but maybe you can lose the least.

While DEFCON is a real-time strategy game and that may immediately turn a lot of you off, I wholeheartedly recommend trying it out simply to experience the atmosphere. If there’s one thing this game does well, it’s atmosphere. Everything from the stylish visuals (which look great ingame, though screenshots and videos seem incapable of conveying it) to the deeply moody music adds to the feeling. And then when one of your missiles hits a city, a white flash and a deep rumble lets you know and a matter-of-fact statistic such as “New York: 3.2m dead” pops up. It’s a dark feeling, and you don’t know whether to be proud or guilty of your destruction. If nothing else, it gives an appreciation of how devastating but impersonal nuclear war could be.

For a quick preview of the gameplay in action, this YouTube video is a rather good example. Also of note is the official trailer, although it fails to capture the sheer atmosphere and mood of the game. If you’re as intrigued as you should be, pick up the demo. You can also download the demo via Steam, and the game is just £10 to buy. If you’d like more detailed information about the accessible but deep mechanics of the game, head over to Wikipedia’s article.

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Banjo-Kazooie 3 (Banjo-Threeie) trailer available

Banjo-Kazooie 3, Banjo-Threeie Wow, I wasn’t expecting this at all. I mean there was a rumour ages ago that a Banjo game might be on the Xbox 360 horizon in some magazine article listing future titles, but I didn’t really have that much faith in it coming to fruition any time soon. After all, Rare’s been very busy with other projects on said console, the most predominant of which being Viva Pinata. But no, it looks like Banjo-Kazooie 3 really is coming and isn’t too far away. Although just a teaser, there’s now a one-minute trailer available that shows off the new style of the lovable bear and bird, plus a very short glimpse of one of the levels: the overworld from the first game, complete with Gruntilda’s Lair on the cliffside.

Although the visuals look terrific in typical Rare fashion (presumably they will look very similar on to this trailer ingame, if not the same), I have to say that I’m not too keen on the new style of Banjo’s face. While I’m sure it’s barely noticable in actual gameplay since you’re zoomed out quite significantly for the majority of the time, it looks like they’ve tried to lower the cutesy value; since Banjo-Kazooie had a distinctive, weird sense of humour to contrast with the cutesy look I’m not sure it’s necessary.

Still, it’s presumably quite a way off and the fact that another sequel to one of my favourite 3D platformers of all time is coming along is good news in my book. I just sincerely hope that Rare has managed to sort themselves out and come up with the goods this time, a hope that I’m also keeping alive for Viva Pinata. I’m sure there’s nobody who doesn’t want Rare to recapture their earlier magic and consistently deliver stunning games.

You can watch the trailer on YouTube where it’s scaled down and lowered in quality, or alternatively try to download the 640×480 original (11mb) from Everdred.

Update: You can now grab a high-definition version of the trailer (direct link). Having been following forum comments and such, the general consensus seems to be that while Banjo’s new look is overall fairly good, it’s the eyes that totally throw it all off; I’ve seen people do some quick image edits where they put his old cover art eyes onto the new body and it looks pretty damn fine. I just hope Rare realises this before they get too far into development.

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1up looks into the history of the Nintendo 64

Nintendo 64 and controllers To celebrate it being ten years (Jeeze!) since the release of the Nintendo 64, 1up has decided to post a five-page article that looks at the rich history of the machine, ranging from its original aspirations to the disaster that was the hyped but generally absent 64DD. If you’re a fan of Nintendo and owned a Nintendo 64, you’ll definitely want to give this feature a read.

It gives some insight into various aspects of the console’s achievements and failures, and is generally really nice to read considering a lot of us were in our gaming prime once the Nintendo 64 kicked into action. I wasn’t actually aware the console only launched with two titles, though I’m not sure if that was the case in Europe. There’s also a bunch of other tidbits in there that I’m sure you didn’t already know.

I’d also like to remind you all that Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one freaking hard game. My sister’s currently playing through it alongside Wind Waker, and it’s just a complete sod. I’m not sure if it’s as generally infuriating to play as the stealth fortress section towards the beginning of Wind Waker, but it’s certainly up there once you reach the adult Link dungeons. I advise not going back to the game if you feel tempted, and instead make do with your happy memories of it. Going back to it will ruin them.

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Counter-Strike: Source weapon prices to be based on demand

Counter-Strike: Source weapons market In a move that I think is really positive for the game, Valve has decided to make the prices for weapons in Counter-Strike: Source be determined by how much people buy them. For the uninitiated, Counter-Strike: Source is a terrorists and counter-terrorists game where one team is pitted against the other; the terrorists typically have to blow up something, and the counter-terrorists must stop them. The more each player kills and/or achieves this objective, the more money he gets to spend on juicier weapons.

“The cost of weapons and equipment that you purchase in Counter-Strike: Source are now based on an algorithm that calculates the global market demand for various weapons. As more people purchase a certain weapon, the price will rise and other weapons will become less expensive.”

Since Counter-Strike’s birth around the beginning of the millennium, the prices of the weapons have basically been decided by the game’s developers based upon a variety of things such as power, effectiveness at certain ranges, etc. However, just like with any balancing system it can be a pain to get right. Certain weapons end up used all the time because they’re the best trade-off between price and effectiveness, and often a lot of weapons are simply discarded. The new system will be much smarter in my opinion, even if purist fans of the game who’ve religiously played for the past several years are unsurprisingly taking offense at the change.

Counter-Strike: Source weapons market I really like this idea because it adds a kind of massively multiplayer angle to the game. It’s not quite as in-your-face as Battlefield 2’s system of allowing players who earn a certain amount of medals/points/kills to use more powerful weapons than those available to most players, but it still adds a sense of continuity to the thousands of Counter-Strike: Source servers out there. It’s also adds another touch of realism.

All in all, good move, Valve. There was once a time when fairly dramatic changes to the Counter-Strike formula were made often, but those days largely came to an end once Counter-Strike: Source hit the streets, save for extra maps. It’s good to see things moving again, what with this new change due to go live on October 11th and the recent revamp of the radar system. I just hope those who’ve grown used to a couple of years of staling don’t have a heart attack.

Although it’s not live yet as mentioned in the previous paragraph, you can browse the Counter-Strike Weapons Market right now. Soon to be a very popular page with Counter-Strike: Source players I’m sure! It’ll be very interesting to see how this system performs in a live setting though, and even more interesting will be seeing the ways that players try to game the system and make delicious weapons a lot cheaper than they really ought to be — and how Valve try to prevent it!

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Zelda: Twilight Princess Wii played in mirror mode

Link in Zelda: Twilight Princess I found something really weird out today, and I can’t actually work out whether it’s something that matters or not. While I heard a while ago that the Wii version of Zelda: Twilight Princess (see my older posts about Zelda: Twilight Princess) would deviate from the Zelda tradition of Link being left-handed as it’d be strange to use the Wiimote with your right hand and your character to use his left, I didn’t think much of it. I just assumed the character animations would be flipped to compensate.

But according to a Wii Source Online post, it’s not just Link who is reversed. No, the entire game is mirrored, meaning that if you were to put two televisions next to each other with the GameCube version on one and the Wii version on the other, it’d look like one was a mirror of the other.

Now, assuming that Nintendo is smart enough to not have mirrored text and whatnot (simply a matter of flipping the textures in Photoshop I’d imagine), does this really matter? Or assuming you get it for the Wii, will the knowledge of knowing that you’re playing it backwards from how it was originally designed detract from your enjoyment of the game? I don’t think I really care, but it’s a weird thing to be aware of.

As a side note, I read earlier this week that the Wii version of Zelda: Twilight Princess has been graphically updated for the Wii. It looks like the majority of this involves stuff like blooming and various other general changes (ie: stuff that doesn’t require them to redo every model and texture) so it’s not going to be pushing the Wii to its absolute limits, but at least it’s some more incentive to get the Wii version, alongside the more engaging controls and earlier release date. If that floats your boat, anyway.

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