We Are The Lambda Generation. LambdaGeneration is a website dedicated to the video game Half-Life. ( We're basically really passionate about crowbars, headcrabs and anyone who has goatee with a PhD in theoretical physics… )

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Vic’s Thoughts On: The Portal 2’s Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC; Or Why Portal 2’s Future Is Looking Very Bright

Portal

As you may or may not know, I wasn’t exactly pleased with Portal 2’s first DLC outing – “Peer Review“. While the Challenge Mode added much-needed replay value to the game, it really should have been in the game from launch. The only other bit of content in there, the new “Art Therapy” co-op course, was rather disappointing, with poor writing and plot, as well as some meager and poorly balanced gameplay offerings.

I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that all free DLC is automatically good – you have to draw the line somewhere. And solid feedback will help make future releases better. For instance, the poor reactions to L4D1’s underwhelming “Crash Course” almost certainly helped Valve build better L4D DLC in the form of L4D2’s “The Passing” (although later on they did let us down again with “The Sacrifice“). So we needn’t be afraid to voice our opinions.

But enough about all that. Here we are, with Portal 2’s second, and perhaps final DLC release almost upon us. The Perpetual Testing Initiative promises to turn Portal 2 into a never-ending house of pure science, providing it with enough replayability and content to feed 5 full-priced Call of Duty games. But does it fulfill that promise?

Vic’s Thoughts On: Dear Esther, Or Why A Video Game Can Be Much, Much More Than Just Entertainment

Gaming Industry

At their core, video games are essentially entertainment – designed to be fun. They accomplish these two objectives through all sorts of ways, within the various genres of the gaming world. Most of the games we play are, ostensibly, mere entertainment – created to be fun, enthralling and, perhaps, little else beyond that. But recently, many have contemplated and whether or not video games truly are art. But this debate goes beyond gaming itself: for instance, can we classify the Roundhay Garden Scene as art? While we’re at that, can we classify the Mona Lisa as entertainment? Is all entertainment actually art, or is all art somehow entertainment? It’s a multifaceted argument that might be going on for a very long while. I, personally, am of the conviction that, video games are art. Of course, there are some games that simultaneously represent both entertainment and art (Portal 1, Half-Life 2). There are also some games that lead more towards the art side, but they still maintain the basic framework of a video game. If they didn’t, we’d have a tough time calling them video games.

But in comes something that might shake up the way we look at video games. That something is Dear Esther. Originally designed as a free HL2 mod in 2008, Dear Esther was a terrific, if flawed experiment regarding interactive, non-linear storytelling conveyed through a video game. Almost 4 years later, the same team, plus one master level designer, have returned to remake and reimagine Dear Esther, almost from the ground up, as a independent Source game. That which was primitive is now beautiful, and a whole new audience could be exposed to this interesting creation. But is it more than just an experiment, or, perhaps, is it more than just a video game? Well, read on to find out!

Vic’s Thoughts On: Nuclear Dawn

Gaming Industry

Ever since the birth of the atom bomb, man has been obsessed with his demise at its hands. From “On The Beach” to “Dr. Strangelove”, and from “DEFCON” to “Fallout”, we seem to have a hard-on for the nuclear holocaust. But something that many people seem to be ignoring is the idea of the post-nuclear society. Post-nuclear nation-states, and post-nuclear warfare. It’s a concept that has been neglected by many.

However, these visions are no longer confined to our dreams, or rather, our nightmares. No, now we have Nuclear Dawn. While it first began development long ago, in 2005, as an independent Source mod, its turbulent and troubled development soon led to it being lost in the depths of development hell. Luckily, InterWave Studios bravely journeyed into that sinister dimension, and after a couple more years in development later, it is now a full-fledged commercial Source game. But is it a fearsome bunker-buster, or is it a mere dud? Read on!

Vic’s Thoughts On: Portal 2, the Unfaithful Sequel; Or Why I Think Portal 1 Will Always Be Better Than Portal 2

Portal

So, it’s been almost 5 months since Portal 2 was released. I know what you’re thinking – “what’s the point of making a review now?”. Well, first of all, it isn’t really a review. It’s more of a critique, or an analysis. And second, while I could have made a review a week or so after release, then, I would not have been able to go in depth with this review, and I would have to settle for avoiding the plot points and gameplay details, so as not to spoil the game, within what would be a shallow article. So, I decided to wait and use the time I had to perfect this thing. Besides, I think the main purpose of a review is to provide feedback to the developer. A month or two ago, P2 even had its first price cut – it’s now $30, so I think most of you guys have already bought and played it. However, just in case you haven’t – don’t read on. Spoilers everywhere. Also keep in mind that this critique is very, very long – almost 4000 words long.

I’ve tried to be a bit critical with the game. Make no mistake, I love the game, and I love Valve. But no game is perfect, and every game has its faults. Mostly, I’ve focused on the singleplayer component, because I consider that to be the actual “Portal 2”. That, and I don’t actually have that much against the co-op mode. In some ways, it’s better than the singleplayer mode.

I know it might seem like I hate the game, but I don’t. I love it, but in my opinion, it just doesn’t live up to Portal 1 as a sequel, and it doesn’t live up to Half-Life as a spin-off of the franchise. And that’s what this review is all about. I’m not trying to convince the gaming world that Portal 2 is some sort of disaster. Not at all. I am trying to illustrate why I believe Portal 2 is not as good as the original, and that Valve was wrong to hype Portal 2 up the way they did, by calling it their “best game ever”. So, read on if you’re interested… 

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