Siege Breaker Sessions #4: Terrible Gamer Gifts

gamer tree

Tis the Holiday season and were talking about some of the worst gifts we have received and what it took to pretend they didn’t suck. We began the show considering an intervention for our friend Arkion who has a serious addiction to buying skins in League of Legends.

After discussing our worst X-mas gifts we talked Star Wars and where you can find that girl or guy that loves Star Wars and is dateable with a top five list. DayZ made the discussion topic as they announced you can now monetize your private server which led into our conversation about Valve reporting that over 77,000 Steam accounts get hacked per month.

Finally we ended with our top ten list of excuses for losing in a video game and were surprise about where some of the excuses ranked up.

So give us a listen here or download the podcast for free from our multiple sites and listen later, but let us know what you think.

Warning: The Siege Breakers Sessions Podcast is NSFW and and contains adult language, seriously if you get easily offended stay out.

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Half Life 2: Episode Two

Half Life 2 - Episode 2 - Xbox 360

Half Life 2: Episode Two begins right where Episode 1 left off. The Citadel has come crashing to the ground, City 17 is in ruins, and your train out of dodge has derailed. You awake to find Alyx outside, thankful you’re alive. She helps you out using the Gravity Gun, and thus begins your mission.

Half Life 2 - Episode 2 - Xbox 360

Host to a data card that the Combine desperately wants and needs, Alyx and Gordon must rush to White Forest, the resistance’s new base in the wake of City 17’s destruction. The game follows Gordon and Alyx as they make their way across the countryside that surrounds City 17 and to White Forest, where Doctor’s Vance, Kleiner, and Magnusson  are waiting for their arrival with the data, which is needed to launch a missile that will close the Combine portal, leaving the Combine trapped on earth without reinforcements.

Half Life 2 - Episode 2 - Xbox 360

The story is fantastic. The characters are well known by now, as is the struggle, and never does that struggle seem more important than in the final hours of the game, when the portal can be seen looming in the dark sky and striders are flooding the forest towards the resistance base and the missile silos.

Half Life 2 - Episode 2 - Xbox 360

The story is excellent, but, the journey to get to White Forest begins a little too slowly. After leaving the train we are treated to a stunning view of City 17 and the outdoor environment of Episode 2. However, the game quickly leads you underground, into Antlion nests where you feel confined and frankly, a bit bored. Antlions just aren’t fun. And tight spaces aren’t a whole lot of fun either when there beckons an entire world of forest and mountains above.

Half Life 2 - Episode 2 - Xbox 360

Nonetheless, Episode 2 throws you into the outdoors after about an hour and a half of crawling in Antlion tunnels, and you rarely venture back in. The huge difference in this game is the size of the environment. You are surrounded by wilderness, small towns, farmhouses and lone radio towers. There are rivers and stunning mountains rising in the distance. It’s liberating and it creates a feeling that the Half Life world is truly real. While playing, I was left with a very certain impression that the world had been abandoned with the Combine invasion fifteen years earlier. Everything was falling apart, buildings left to rot, and it was overwhelmingly awe-inspiring to see the world as a place where humans had been shepherded into ghettos and where the Combine used the earth as a mine, taking natural resources over time.

Half Life 2 - Episode 2 - Xbox 360

One of the main questions surrounding the game was the introduction of a new enemy: the hunter, which is a difficult foe in the different gaming environment. Episode 2, however, also introduces three more enemies as well: an acid-spitting Antlion, an Antlion guardian, and the Combine Advisor. While serviceable enemies, the Hunter steals the show. A vicious, fast-moving, and deadly adversary that stands about eight feet tall; the Hunter seems to travel in packs and it shoots electrical bolts that stick to surfaces and explode, zapping health and energy. It is a welcome addition the Half Life story, and I expect that we’ll see more of it in Episode 3.

Half Life 2 - Episode 2 - Xbox 360

The lighting and other graphical qualities are fantastic, and even though better graphics can be found across current-gen consoles, Valve enlisted such incredible art direction that the Source Engine’s age is barely showing. The environments look wonderful, the spaces feel appropriately vast, and the character models still look amazingly realistic. They display emotions on a level I’ve never seen before in a game, and I still don’t think any graphical engines model human characters so well.

Half Life 2 - Episode 2 - Xbox 360

Sound use is excellent in Episode 2. The music kicks in at the right moments and serves to inspire fear, excitement, or manic abandon. The weapons sound appropriately tuned, and the voice acting is fantastic as usual. And of course, the screaming of headcrab zombies is utterly terrifying and spine-tingle inducing.

Half Life 2 - Episode 2 - Xbox 360

There was some criticism of the length of Episode 1, and that has been rectified in Episode 2. Episode 2 offers a range of diversity that is unrivaled in gaming and is quite long. From the driving segments to the use of the Gravity Gun, to physics puzzles to shotgun diplomacy to huge battles from underground lairs to shaking valleys full of striders, Episode 2 is amazing. It is roughly six hours long, and it is well worth the journey (and the price).

Half Life 2 - Episode 2 - Xbox 360

Episode 2 isn’t perfect. Though the opening sections of the game make the eventual arrival in the forest seem incredibly liberating, they are a bit of a slog and they make it tough to begin the adventure. And though the story is enthralling, I still want to know more about the G Man and the seven hour war. Looking beyond those minor faults, Episode 2 is at least every bit as strong a Half Life experience as the game’s that came before it and has me excited for the final episode. No other game offers such a diverse, fantastic, and entertaining variety of puzzles, strategy, excitement, and story. Episode 2 is well worth adding to your game collection.

Final Score: 93%

+ Great gameplay                                                   – Opening section of game is a bit slow

+ Wonderful art direction                                    – Story could still use some insight

+ Pulse poundingly exciting

SteelSeries & Valve Introduce The Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition Headset

STEELSERIES AND VALVE INTRODUCE THE SIBERIA V2 DOTA® 2 EDITION HEADSET AND NEW MOUSEPADS AT THE INTERNATIONAL

SteelSeries & Valve Introduce The Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition Headset

Illuminated Gaming Headset Includes Exclusive In-Game Item – Scythe of Vyse for Nature’s Prophet

 

SEATTLE – August 6, 2013SteelSeries, the worldwide leader in professional grade gaming peripherals along with Valve, developer of Dota 2 and creator of The International Tournament, today announced the Siberia v2 Illuminated Gaming Headset Dota®2 Special Edition which features an exclusive in-game item, Scythe of Vyse for Nature’s Prophet. In addition to the new headset, SteelSeries will also roll out two new SteelSeries QcK+ mousepads featuring character artwork from the game. The Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition headset lets the player experience the non-stop excitement of the game while enjoying an incredible soundscape, lightweight over-the-head suspension design and the ability to customize what you’re hearing through an easy-to-configure software suite. Red LED illumination on the outside of each earcup can also be customized to exact user specifications and profiles via the SteelSeries Engine. At an MSRP of $119.99, the headset is equipped with large, premium driver units for the loudest and clearest sound while its circumaural earcups are wrapped in soft leather for comfort and increased passive noise reduction.

 

The SteelSeries Siberia v2 Illuminated Gaming Headset Dota 2 Special Edition $119.99 Combining lightweight comfort and an optimized soundscape with premium features the headset includes:

 

  • DOTA RED ILLUMINATION

Super-bright, red LED lights that glow through the outer mesh grill on each earcup. The illumination offers 6 different modes and can be assigned to behavior and game specific profiles through the SteelSeries Engine, including: Active Mode (responsive pulsing to sound effects, music, and/or voice), Slow Pulse, Fast Pulse, High Bright, Low Bright and Off.

  • EXCLUSIVE IN-GAME ITEM

The Scythe of Vyse for Nature’s Prophet has been originally designed and is available exclusively to players who purchase the SteelSeries Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition headset.

  • NOISE-CANCELLING MICROPHONE & CONTROLS

The Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition headset features an active noise cancelling microphone system. The microphone processor reduces the “noise” and focuses on the sound that is closer to the mic, your voice. It can also retract into the left earcup when not in use. The headsets in-line volume and mute controls are found on a durable cord with a USB connector.

 

The SteelSeries QcK+ Dota 2 Edition Mousepads – $19.99
Each displaying unique character artwork from the game, the new SteelSeries QcK+ mousepads are comprised of the Tiny and the Vengeful Spirit Editions. The mousepads are composed of a high-quality cloth material and an optimized texture that guarantees both smoothness and glide while a non-slippery rubber base holds the mousepad in place. Because of its size, the QcK+ is perfect for players who are using low sensitivity settings or for those who prefer to have a larger, consistent surface for game play.

Attendees of The International 3, which will kick off in Seattle tomorrow, will be the first to purchase the new SteelSeries Siberia v2 Dota 2 Edition products. The headset and mousepads will be available to consumers via the SteelSeries Web Shop and other etail partners later this summer. For more information about each of the new products, please visit http://steelseries.com/dota2. To get the latest news regarding SteelSeries sponsored teams competing during the event be sure to follow us on Facebook.

 

About SteelSeries

SteelSeries is a leading manufacturer of top quality gaming peripherals from headsets, keyboards and mice to controllers, surfaces, and software. For more than a decade, SteelSeries has been on the forefront of designing and creating gear for competitive gamers. The company’s continued innovation also comes in collaboration with the world’s leading professional gaming teams and partners. SteelSeries is a global brand that continues to support the growth of competitive gaming tournaments and electronic sports leagues through professional team sponsorships, partnerships and community support. For more information, please visit http://steelseries.

Half-Life 2

 Half-life-2
Half-Life 2 was a smash hit on the PC, however you needed a pretty good graphics card back in the day to run the damn thing good. So many were hoping for a watered down port for the consoles, and even though it took a bit of time, Valve delivered that on Xbox like they did for the first game on PS2.
Half-life-2
I did play 1 on PS2 (I don’t play PC games), and really thought it was one of the worst shooters that I put my hands on. Most of that might of been aging, and the crumminess of the PS2 port (from what I hear), so I decided to give 2 a try and the Xbox version does the series justice. The graphical framerate can be a problem for nickpicky people, but the load-times are defiantly the thorn in this game’s paw. Long and frequent, get used to it.
Half-life-2
Half-life 2 is a fun and impressive game, with such variety and diversity in the enemies and levels. I think my favorite level was Ravenholm since it had that perfect Halloween spooky feel to it, and was really the only spot I really thought the gravity gun got it’s full use. I do wish I kinda waited until I bought the Orange Box though since the port on that one is much much better than this version. However even a crappy port of great game, can sometimes be a great game if you can tolerate imperfections.

Ten Indie Games that Should be on Steam

In its first day Greenlight, the cunning Steam scheme that lets mainstream gamers vote on indie games and saves Valve the trouble of promoting its service, has gathered over 500 submissions. It is of course quite the mess, though a mess that will ensure that only well-known games with built-in communities make it to Steam, thus bringing Valve even more money. Hoorah!
Or, well, not.
Anyway. I too did spend a few hours navigating the Greenlight entries and here are the 10 games I would like to see make it on the service. They are of course games I was already aware of, but that’s how things work, isn’t it?

The Sea Will Claim Everything

The Sea Will Claim Everything; it’s the only game that will make you a better person. Also, it looks and sounds wonderful and sports thousands of lovely words that are lovely.

Death Ray Manta

Death Ray Manta; it’s by Rob Fearon and it’s the most psychedelic, colourful, enjoyable and modifiable arena shooter we’ll ever play. Besides, DRM eh?

Dark Scavenger

Dark Scavenger; because everyone should love excellent, verbose adventure/RPG hybrids with a demented sense of humour.

Project Zomboid

Project Zomboid; yes, zombies can still be fun, interesting and actually innovative. Here is where I confess my love for the thing.

Neocolonialism

Neocolonialism; seems to have involved since I first covered it for the IndieGames Blog. BesidesSteam could easily use a couple more political games.

Wyv and Keep

Wyv and Keep; I do love co-op games played on one PC. Even more so when they are weird and pixel-artsy. Mind you, I did preview this particular game some time ago.

Cognition An Erica Reed Thriller

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller; crafted with a little help from Jane Jensen AND using the power of post-cognition: the most useless sounding super-power of late, that does though make perfect sense from a gameplay point-of-view.

Fibrillation

Fibrillation; from Russia. With horror.

Call of Cthulhu The Wasted Land

Call of Cthulhu: The Wasted Land; WWI turn-based strategy and Cthulhu. Better yet, Call of Cthulhu of the Chaosium variety. Did review it some time ago.

Octodad Dadliest Catch

Octodad: Dadliest Catch; the trailer, the TRAILER.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03rP_O2k8XM[/youtube]

And if you feel I haven’t posted enough links, well, here’s another one. It will take you to myGreenlight Collection thingy, which, provided I don’t get bored, will generally include some pretty intriguing games.

Counter Strike: Global Offensive Official Trailer

Counter-Strike-Global-Offensive

Valve is bring back the Counter Strike of old in a brand new edition that will expand upon the team-based action gameplay that it pioneered when it was launched 12 years ago. CS: GO features new maps, characters, and weapons and delivers updated versions of the classic CS content (de_dust, etc.).

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ycbuZNRgZc[/youtube]

Here is the trailer of the upcoming; Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Will Valve’s New Game Be Free To Play?

 

Valve’s New Game Be Free To Play

Steam, the online game distributor, has recently embraced the free to play phenomenon gaining popularity in North America and is now offering this genre an outlet. With games like Champions Online, Spiral Knights, and Global Agenda all feeling resurgence in their populations from this new spotlight its only natural for Valve to try their hand at the F2P model.

Why not test out this success on something deep-rooted but admired? Steam has already taken one of their most popular games, Team Fortress 2, and given it a free to play make over. Has their been any success in this move? Apparently so, since it is rumored that Valve is going to make a F2P game, but what future feature project could they be thinking of making F2P?

Could it be Defense of the Ancients 2? By all logical means, it sounds like this would be the most likely model for success for DotA2. Why? Because its main contender is none other than League of Legends, a game that has garnered international popularity with its free to play model, microtransaction payment method, and E-sport fame.

If Valve intends to yank players away from a game that requires no down payment or box sales this seems like the most likely means to be able to strive in the DotA Clone market against such a heavy hitter such as LoL. If they manage to make DotA 2 an entity of its own while keeping to the core concepts of the original it could possibly dethrone or spar head to head against its competitor. Good luck with that feat, Valve.

The Whine List

whine motivational poster

Gaming forums are not a good place for the faint-hearted, but just recently there seems to have been a lot of whining and misplaced angst. While there are easy targets – Sony’s poor handling of the PSP Go – there have been some misguided campaigns of hate that deserve to be shot down in flames, ridiculed and dispatched to the darkest corners of the Internet.

Nintendo have regularly been updating the system firmware of the Wii, most notably to include SD card support (a feature the gaming community was calling for, no less). But when the most recent update was found to “brick” a small number of consoles, even rabid Nintendo fans were up in arms. “How can they do this to us?” came the protests, as the update designed to prevent homebrew and such esoteric mods as the USB loader working took hold. While I applaud the ingenuity of the hackers, the fact remains – modifying a console like this is illegal and opens up the possibility of piracy. Obviously Nintendo cannot allow that, and are well within their rights to stop modified machines working in a way they were never intended to. This was a cheap whine.

Similarly, I read a plea to get rid of software licensing agreements and to stop people having to click/push buttons to get past them “because no-one ever reads them”. Again, the companies would be within their rights to prosecute someone modifying their software or making illegal copies. More fool you if you fail to read the small print. (It does remind of a bizarre paragraph in a standardised licensing agreement that told me not to use graphics editing software for the Commodore 64 in the running of a nuclear power station, but I digress…)  This is a low-quality whine, blended from different varieties of gamer.

When Valve announced a sequel to the best-selling Left 4 Dead, you would imagine that the fans would be ecstatic. But no, a developer once renowned for being slow was putting out a sequel too quickly, and worst of all was the perception it would be “abandoning” the original and plans to release new content for it. Signing a virtual petition against Left 4 Dead 2 was a daft idea. But the campaign hit new lows when two leading objectors were given the chance to see the game at Valve’s headquarters – suddenly the two in question were “traitors” and Valve was brainwashing them into liking the game. This is vintage whine, distilled from the finest sour grapes and labelled fact-free.

For those who do not keep up with gaming forums, for a long time EA were the baddies. Now it seems the focus has switched to Activision, thanks in no small measure to the press statements of Bobby Kotich. After the rumoured pull-out from PS3 development (which never happened, given the recent PS3 price cut, and was unlikely anyway), further statements about what fans would buy and the future for the company after its merger with Blizzard did little to quell the online flames. Another bizarre boycott, asking fans to only buy Activision’s games second-hand, would seem to do more harm to the gamers themselves than to the company.

Sure, the price point for certain peripheral-based titles may seem high. The bizarre Modern Warfare 2 bundle with night vision goggles comes across as a company expecting fans to buy anything because of the name on the box (and the game it contains… hopefully). But, like EA before them, Activision are a company that have given a lot more than they take. Few could argue that the Guitar Hero games do not give hours and hours of gameplay for the money. And while it may seem strange to launch more expensive games in the midst of a recession, that money is going back to a company that works well with developers. So, this is another vintage whine, one that should be put on the shelf and left until there is genuinely something to complain about.

 

There Are Games On Macs. It’s True!

PC vs Mac Steam
PC vs Mac Steam

For those late to the party, Macs are finally getting some PC gaming love from Valve’s digital gaming distribution service called Steam. With this new cross-platform addition to the Macs arsenal, the chic liberal Starbucks drinking hippies can now play Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2, Portal, and other Valve games built on Source. For those who weren’t aware, there was an offer to get iPod ear buds for the purchase of a Mac copy of Team Fortress 2 which could carry on to your PC version as well since the Steam Cloud works cross platform. I mention this because it also means that whatever saved state you have on your PC will move over to the Mac and vice versa so you don’t have to start all over again.

One other neat little quirk is that Mac players don’t play with only Mac users as some other games seem to segregate them to their lonesome selves. The battle against the PC and Mac can now take place with more than just words. Someone in your L4D2 team using a Mac? Let a tank flip a car on him while you rush to the safe house. Tired of the shit talkers on the PC talking down to your little apple? Become a spy, pretend to be his friend, sap his sentry and take a nice stab to their back. Finally, the war can be waged.

The scenario I described does sound a bit immature but I assure you that the internet is serious business. From personal experience, playing TF2 since the Mac launch I have seen Mac and PC users alike verbally assault one another in a brutal fashion and even personally attempt to dominate the OSX or Windows lovers specifically. It has brought a new flavor to gaming online in Source games and it’s a welcome rivalry that I think many are glad to finally play a more aggressive stance in. The only downside I find in all of this is when someone asks me if they should buy a Mac I can’t say “There are no games on a Mac.” With World of Warcraft and Source’s amazing multiplayer online games that’s all you’d really need to have as a Mac user. Before someone begins the debate that Call of Duty is better than Team Fortress 2 and that is reason enough to not buy a Mac… you need to eat a bag of dicks. Team Fortress 2 is superior to Call of Duty. I know this may cause some internet rage but that’s my stance on it and if you haven’t given Team Fortress 2 or any Valve games a chance yet you can purchase the entire Valve Library for $66.99 this weekend. That’s 22 games for the PC and 6 are available for the Mac. For those who have yet to play Steam on the Mac, what are you waiting for? Let the shit talking and rocket flying begin!

Portal is Free!

Portal Logo
Portal Logo

Portal is Free!

Until May 24th, Portal is now free. The game is short and most people can beat it in a few hours, so it’s worth checking out this short classic before the free period runs out, if you don’t have it already.

Portal is available for PC and for Mac.

Click here to get the game free and play it now.

Portal 2: Coming this Holiday Season

Portal 2
Portal 2

Portal is just one of those games that if you get into it you become totally engrossed in it. The game-play is fun, the puzzles are great and the sounds and music is awesome. Portal was widely played during its first release, on the Orange Box and even in flash game remakes.

Now get ready for Portal 2. Valve has confirmed that Portal 2 is set for release this holiday season. Now what they did not say is what platform it will be released for, but I’m a betting man and I’m sure it will be multiplatform, PC and Console.

There have been little hints and teases from Valve this past week including, updating the first Portal on its Steam client with new Morse code sound files, and even a new ending sequence. So now we have confirmation. This will defiantly be a game to watch and as more information becomes available we will bring it to you.