Catch Up on Portal 2

Get all of the latest details on the follow-up to the popular first-person puzzler.

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Aperture Science--manufacturer of fine shower curtains, developer of portal technology, creator of a sentient AI that is none too fond of humans, and the setting for the follow-up to Valve's incredibly popular first-person puzzle game Portal. While Portal 2 features the core portal-hopping gameplay of its predecessor, the sequel expands on the original game in just about every conceivable way, with separate single-player and cooperative modes, new characters, and new mechanics. We've rounded up details on these features and other key information to get you up to speed on Portal 2.

Warning: spoilers ahead.

Portal 2: The Characters

Chell

The original ending to Portal gave no clear indication of what happened to the game's silent protagonist, only that she managed to make it outside the Aperture Science Enrichment Center facility. However, Valve introduced a new ending to Portal last year that added the sounds of mechanical footsteps and a voice that stated, "Thank you for assuming the party escort position." It was later revealed in the Portal 2: Lab Rat comic that the party escort bot dragged an unconscious Chell back into the testing facility where she was placed into a cryo-chamber.

Atlas and P-body

These Aperture Science robots are the stars of Portal 2's cooperative campaign, which is completely separate from the single-player campaign featuring Chell. As denoted by his spherical shape, Atlas was built from the remnants of an Aperture Science personality core, while P-body's elongated structure reveals his origins as a sentry turret, but they were both given human traits to make the tests (and GLaDOS' observations) more useful. Both robots are equipped with portal guns, and they will have to use them in creative ways to help each other progress from one area to the next.

Rattmann

The graffiti left on various walls in the Enrichment Center--including "The Cake is a lie"--were left by a scientist named Rattmann, who managed to avoid capture. As revealed in the Portal 2 comic, Rattmann was responsible for selecting Chell as an optimal test subject capable of defeating GLaDOS because of her stubbornness. Rattmann eventually discovered that Chell was successful in defeating GLaDOS but that she was subsequently captured and taken to a "long-term relaxation" facility. Along with his talking companion cube, Rattmann set out to save Chell by restoring life support systems that were damaged by explosions so she could survive indefinitely. Though he was successful in doing so, Rattmann was shot by a sentry turret and gravely injured. The final panels of the comic show him crawling into a stasis bed similar to the one found at the beginning of the original Portal

Wheatley

A personality core, voiced by Stephen Merchant, Wheatley is responsible for waking Chell from her cryogenic sleep. He also provides commentary and functions as a guide of sorts in the single-player campaign. While we could go into greater detail about Wheatley's personality, it's best to just watch the video below.

Cave Johnson

Aperture Science's eccentric founder, CEO, and shower curtain visionary received mercury poisoning while attempting to develop poisonous shower curtains to be sent to members of the Naval Appropriations Committee as revenge for the Navy not being included in the military shower curtain contract. While suffering from its effects, Johnson comes up with a three-tier plan to guarantee the future success of Aperture Science--one of the plans involves what becomes portal technology. It was revealed in the Portal Web-based augmented reality game that Cave Johnson was dead but that he was capable of writing memos from the grave, implying that his mind had been transferred to a computer in some form and that he would have greater involvement in Portal 2.

GLaDOS

Despite her "defeat" at the end of the original game, the devious AI from Portal returns in the sequel. GLaDOS takes an opportunity to recoup and reassume control of Aperture Science where, yet again, she decides to use Chell as a test subject. GLaDOS was originally designed to help speed up research into Aperture Science's portal project and beat Black Mesa (the competing company from the Half-Life series) to the punch. Unfortunately, every time GLaDOS was activated, the scientists found that she would immediately try to kill them. After making some changes, GLaDOS was activated once again, but within picoseconds, she took full control of the Enrichment Facility and entered into a constant testing phase for portal technology, killing test subjects in the process.

The Tools

Portal Gun
The main tool in Portal 2 is still the portal gun. It's not functionally different from the same item in the original game since it can still shoot two portals that Chell (in the single-player campaign) or Atlas and P-body (in the cooperative mode) can leap through. However, you can now use portals in conjunction with various objects, such as the pneumatic diversity tubes and excursion funnels that can pull objects (or even Chell and the bots) through portals. Also, entering portals is a little easier this time around thanks to some tweaks.

Gels
Gels change the physical properties of surfaces and objects in the game. Repulsion gel transforms basic surfaces into a trampoline, allowing Chell to jump high into the air after making contact with that surface--similarly, using repulsion gel on objects causes them to bounce. Another type of gel, called propulsion pudding, can be used to give Chell speed boosts when necessary. Obviously, it won't always be easy to use these items. In some cases, you have to carefully guide globules through a series of portals to the proper location.

Cubes
Portal wouldn't be Portal without cubes, both of the standard and companion variety. But Portal 2 also features a new object called the weighted pivot cube. These special cubes are capable of being rotated so that they can properly reflect energy beams or what is known at Aperture Science as thermal discouragement beams.

Ping Tool
While playing in Portal 2's cooperative mode, you can make use of this context sensitive tagging option to communicate more efficiently with your buddy. You can specifically point out where to place portals, where to walk, or what button to press instead of yelling things like, "Put the portal on the right side! No, the other right side!"

Versions

The game content in all versions will be identical upon release, but there are some differences worth pointing out. The PC version will have access to mod tools, but the content created with those tools isn't PC specific and could theoretically come to the console versions in some form. Additionally, the PlayStation 3 version of Portal 2 features Steam functionality and grants a free copy of the PC version to users who link their Steam accounts. This functionality also means that the PS3 version will receive updates as fast and as frequently as the PC/Mac versions of the game, whereas the Xbox 360 version will have to wait a little longer for such updates.

Portal in Other Games

- "The Cake is a lie" reference has appeared in a couple of games, including Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Dragon Age: Origins.

- Darksiders makes extensive use of a similar portal weapon in later areas.

- The games included in Valve's Potato Sack Bundle on Steam have all been "infected" by Portal 2. Super Meat Boy has five new levels that feature the use of portals, GLaDOS makes an appearance in Bit.Trip Beat, and other games in the bundle feature Portal-style levels or the appearance of companion cubes.

- The game Narbacular Drop was developed by the Portal team when they were students at DigiPen. The game contains many of the same gameplay characteristics as Portal, albeit in a much different setting.

Discussion

70 comments
limplungs
limplungs

I think Wheatley was once part of GLaDOS...and that is why GLaDOS came alive when Wheatley got close to her!

SDSkarface
SDSkarface

horrendous graphics, GJ valve using the same source engine from half life 2 in 2004, valves been recycling that source engine for years.

SDSkarface
SDSkarface

horrendous graphics, GJ valve using the same source engine from half life 2 in 2004, valves been recycling that source engine for years.

Hawkins1313666
Hawkins1313666

The portal interview on the front page results in a 404 error.

gideonkain
gideonkain

@limplungs That's exactly what Wheatley is. - it's a personality core.

Skat137321
Skat137321

I just can't wait to get my hands on this game :X

fishyrandom
fishyrandom

Stephen Merchant is amazing at Wheatley, I am greatly looking forward to the single player.

mattgressel
mattgressel

Pre-Ordered! Can't wait to play with my GF!

thunderlite
thunderlite

Wheatley is so so gay . . . . He sounds like stewie (family guy)

limplungs
limplungs

@pedrote ya...i dont trust wheatley either....he seems helpful but so did glados at the very beginning...he kinda reminds me of one of the eyes that were destroyed off glados in the first game :D

TRBO_RAD
TRBO_RAD

This Looks soo great wheatley looks like a nice touch i cannot wait to meet up with GLADOS i

pedrote
pedrote

I really like Whitley, but still there's something about him I don't trust....

pyire
pyire

@gmreedy True, great value as always provided by valve! :) (well, at least for the ps3 owners)

Durass
Durass

Yu monster will be interesting to play with you.

gmreedy
gmreedy

@pyire Not really. Technically, you're getting $110 worth of content for $60 dollars. So in reality, the PS3 version is cheaper.

trozan_911
trozan_911

definitely there is an improvement in gameplay and graphics :)

pyire
pyire

Pre-ordered it for the PC at first but as soon as the news about that anyone who bought it for the PS3 got a free PC/MAC copy there was no longer any point to buy it for the PC. Well, ofcourse the PC-only version is cheaper :p I'm super hyped anyway!

Smokey2003
Smokey2003

I always hate the last two days of a game I'm really excited about. Two more days and suddenly time is going so...so...slow. Just pre-ordered...

iScooper
iScooper

I loved the first game and ever since I beat it I have been craving to play more! I'm really hoping portal 2 delivers which I'm sure it will.

jazzyrider
jazzyrider

so looking forward to this! counting the hours soon...

kickballer
kickballer

Hearing GlaDOS alive again makes me shudder.

HT89488
HT89488

"thermal discouragement beams" lol

Albenuova
Albenuova

@Kooken58 Yeah I know that they probably wont. Im basically saying im getting it when the price goes down. cause lets be honest there are like 15+ great looking games that are coming out this year and i honestly cant afford all of them.

DanielL5583
DanielL5583

@Sardinar The episodes in the Half-Life 2 canon aren't based around improvement, but rather for continuity purposes. Half-Life 2 Episode 3 should be around the block next year or after.

Sardinar
Sardinar

@Hladilnik No way, it's either Counter Strike 2 or L4D3. Not TF3 because after all of the updates is very hard to improve upon it, and not Half-life: Episode 3 because it's impossible to improve upon HL2 at all.

startman_1999
startman_1999

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Hladilnik
Hladilnik

Next project: Half life 3? :)

trozan_911
trozan_911

Release Date: Apr 19, 2011.....omg cant wait that long...make time go fast :)

Kooken58
Kooken58

@Albenuova I doubt your gonna see another new type of orangebox...not until something like Half life 3 comes out...I believe one of the reasons why they made the orange box in the first place is because they had many small games came out at once (Portal, TF2, and the half life episodes) Most people were just interested in half life, so they saw the chance of putting those other 2 unheard of games out there to the public...the original team fortress was made by some small company that valve ended up hiring and same goes for portal...hired a group of college kids or so i heard... @madg23 already been confirmed that Ps3 players and PC players can play together through steam.

DWalker131
DWalker131

i have to agree with the "portal in other games" comment i never played counterstrike/half life/or the orange box games but when i picked up 'dark siders' i thought, this is an awesome idea there has to be a game like this, so went to this site, typed in portal in the search to see if a such a game exist and, been obsessing over the portal game and portal 2 which i'll be playing today, i hope it don't disappoint

Kooken58
Kooken58

I doubt the console will see much of the Mod things PC gamers create...Take TF2 for example....How often does It get updated for the console??? New maps ect ect??? Prolly never now, considering Microsoft has to tack on a price tag for every damn new map that comes out....one reason why i never play many games on my xbox anymore...TF2 on PC on the other hand is getting updates constantly, and Im always joining games with new maps...I hope next gen gets some mod benefits but its unlikely...that would kill activision's way of business. (Overpriced map pack content)

benhl312
benhl312

I cannot wait for this game to come out

mtait01
mtait01

there is also a portal easter egg in Fable 3 with a companion cube :)

valent1n
valent1n

trolling: so nice! Portal 2, nice, good game for this Easter, GG guys !!

zulwalks
zulwalks

@MichaeltheCM you monster!!

MichaeltheCM
MichaeltheCM

put our differences aside... for science

chainsawscourge
chainsawscourge

im making a note here HUGE sucsess its hard to over state my sertisfaction... cant f*cking wait!!!

mstormer
mstormer

Looks really good,totally gonna get it!!!

aeklagonisi
aeklagonisi

Soooooooooooo getting this baby, with Brink later on :)

SpotDuck2345
SpotDuck2345

@AJAM1 - It started out being weird/funny and it's still weird/funny. I don't know what you're implying, but it hasn't changed.

Albenuova
Albenuova

They should sell a digital PS3 version of l4d2 and orange box on steam at \$10 for people who already own them on the PC. and sell a PC version of orange box for $7 for people who already own the orange box on the PS3.

Albenuova
Albenuova

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Albenuova
Albenuova

I know im ganna get a thumbs down for this, But here I go. I really like the first portal because it was included in the Orange Box. The game was short and sweet and i loved every moment of it! As for Portal 2 idk if im gonna get it because its a full length game. So the levels might drag on too long for me and the co-op doesn't have a lasting appeal to me, cause to be honest I did play any of the extra levels in the first game aside from the main story. Don't get me wrong Portal 2 is gonna be a great game, so I might get it later when the price goes down or when they include it in the Red,Black,blue,rainbow box or something.

AJAM1
AJAM1

Portal got kinda...weird

bluehawk-55
bluehawk-55

don't forget the portals of PRAY (the great game)

_IronManDude_
_IronManDude_

Not much to say -- I played Portal only recently with The Orange Box, and I was instantly hooked, faster than almost any other game I had ever played. If the amount of creative effort is the same, and they use the same writing team, I think Portal 2 could be GOTY. You monster.

trozan_911
trozan_911

well a lot of things are added on portal 2...looks like it wont be that easy to get the cake :D

naraku2099
naraku2099

@matok: I'm fairly new to Portal as well. I snagged Portal on my brother's 360 when it dropped to $5 last year and fell head over heels for the game. Portal was awesome, and Portal 2 looks like it will be even better. I can't wait any more, I want Portal 2 now!

matok1
matok1

Great article GS! I'm new to this game and that was nice approach to portal's 2 background..