Mark October 9, 2007 on your calendar, clear off your free time for the week or so thereafter, and stock up on Cheetos and Mountain Dewor whatever it is you use to power through a marathon gaming session. The folks at Valve have confirmed a launch date for their triple-threat game bundle of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal.
If you’re not already excited about those games, you might want to check out the last video on this page showing off some of the facial animation goodness in TF2. The video illustrates nicely how much personality Valve has given the game’s characters. I saw one of the guys from Valve give a presentation about this stuff at the Radeon HD press event, and it was extremely impressive. He made the point that game developers may not have caught up to Hollywood’s raw visual fidelity, but the animation capabilities in TF2 are on par with Pixar and the like in terms of range of expression and complexity. That may not lead to pretty pictures for a screenshot, but the fully animated result is very compelling. Heavy Weapons Guy is a far cry from the dour Alyx of Half-Life 2, whose demeanor was dictated by life-threatening doses of Xanaxerr, I mean, the limits of that game’s facial animation system. The interactions between the strong personalities of the various character classes in TF2 should be a lot of fun to see.