Portal 2 Co-Op Hands-On

We take on lethal team-building tests in Portal 2's co-op campaign.

If you thought GLaDOS might go easier on robots than treacherous, squishy humans, you'd be wrong. The two robot stars of Portal 2's cooperative offering--one tall, with an egg-shaped body and orange eye, and one short, with a blue eye in its spherical body--are no better off than the human heroine of the single-player campaign. They face a series of lethal test chamber puzzles in the game's co-op mode, as well as the unhinged snark of Aperture Science's AI overseer.

The test chamber doors are arranged around the Hub, a towering room of platforms and bridges, navigable via the portal guns with which the two bots are equipped, over a pool of nonspecific but lethal goo. ("How can you fail at this?" GLaDOS taunts after a misstep, "It isn't even a test.") Routes to further test chambers open up as you make progress, and you'll be able to access any puzzles you or your co-op partner have already beaten. We sampled the first set of tests, labelled "Team Building"--a series of puzzles to familiarise you with key co-op features and introduce puzzle-solving tricks in their simplest form.

In your co-op toolset is the ping ability, which lets you pinpoint a spot to which you want to draw your buddy's attention--say, a button you need pressed or somewhere you need a portal placed. There's also a picture-in-picture view that lets you see through your partner's eyes--useful for online cooperative play rather than the split-screen two-player mode. Combined with voice chat, these tools should make collaboration easier in the fiddliest puzzles. Less essential, but more adorable, are the gesture abilities, including a simple wave and a celebratory high-five. Unlike GLaDOS, these bots don't talk. Like WALL-E, they are all the more charming for it.

While he's dying, you'll still be alive.

The first few tests keep Blue-bot and Orange-bot in parallel rooms, separated by glass walls, and make the point that cooperation isn't preferable--it's mandatory. In an early test, one robot has to press a button in its room to drop a cube from the ceiling in the other's. Unless the second robot grabs it, the cube falls into another pool of lethal goo and is lost (GLaDOS: "Nice catch, Orange"). In another pair of side-by-side rooms, one robot must fire portals through slots in the dividing wall to let his neighbour pass obstacles on the other side. To differentiate the portals from each robot's portal device--especially since later on in the game all four portals will be in play simultaneously--one produces blue and purple portals, the other red and orange.

As the robots progress together through the tests, finding Portal's familiar cubes and buttons and turret-mounted guns, new items are introduced, too. The prism cube, for instance, must be used to redirect deadly red lasers--"thermal discouragement rays," in Aperture Science's euphemistic techno-corporate speak--towards goals or to destroy those three-legged turrets. It's all too easy to scorch your partner while fumbling with a prism cube, but death is never the end for these two--if destroyed, a bot is reconstructed and tossed back into play. GLaDOS wouldn't want either robot getting out of it that easily. "Oh, sorry," she says, distracted. "I was just thinking of all the ways humans can die--unlike you."

In a more advanced "team building" exercise, the robots are reunited in a single chamber and must cross a river of more deadly liquid to the exit on the far side. The solution begins with an infinite falling loop, with one portal placed directly above another. While one robot falls and falls, the second must hit a button to temporarily retract an obstacle over the river and then quickly relocate the upper portal to send the first flying over the liquid--to hit a switch that builds a bridge that allows the other to cross over. It's a twist on the falling puzzles from the first game, now demanding the intervention of a second player, rather than having the falling player shoot a new portal mid-plummet.

Now you're sinking with portals.

Expect the complexity of the tests to ramp up steadily (the co-op campaign is about twice as long as the original Portal, as is the single-player campaign), with new items introduced along the way; back in the Hub, the second set of test chambers is labelled "Mass and Velocity," and the third is labelled "Hard Light Surfaces." But the learning curve for collaboratively solving puzzles is cleverly done, so that you'll be instinctively looking for opportunities to cooperate. So Aperture Science does know a thing or two about team building. Find your Portal 2 co-op buddy before launch in April.

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Discussion

129 comments
DanielL5583
DanielL5583

@shadow-crow It requires both persons to have their own copy of the game. Put simply, no because he doesn't have a copy.

shadow-crow
shadow-crow

I'm preordering it on steam but my friend doesn't have a copy Will I still be able to play co op with one copy? he does have a steam account and a copy of the original portal....

Get_Shorty
Get_Shorty

I am not looking forward to playing this game my friend is a dumbass :P

mw2hardcore
mw2hardcore

great game!i wish they would work on it more and then release it.if they do that it is possible it could get10.00/10.00 . don't you think?

giladwo
giladwo

@certifieddata: Me too. The original Portal was too easy.

josh7845
josh7845

Looks like a fantastic follow up to the best puzzle solving game and possibly the best game of all time

torbonator
torbonator

@pelvist I know steam isn't coming to ps3, only steamworks, but that means future games may involve steamworks and also yes steam would take away PSN so that would just mean there maybe a possible deal in the future. and i'm not sure what to say to rest of your comment. I just don't think you should lump all console gamers as people who don't play PC games or think PC is a dead platform. PC games can be better than console games but also can be worse.

systemovercast
systemovercast

Who is that woman doing the interview?! I want marry her.

Fayt1986
Fayt1986

if i get the ps3 vertion and install it on my pc with the the free copy will i be able to play co-op with just the one copy useing my ps3 and pc?.

anotherone10
anotherone10

" I've been really busy being dead...you know " Can't wait for Portal 2 :D

MuffintopX
MuffintopX

I bet this gets a 9.5. How could it not?

UltanKC
UltanKC

I'm so pumped for the release of this game. I've been seriously anticipating this game since it was announced!

RTSgamer32
RTSgamer32

Cant wait for this epic game!! :) im buying it on pc

CageFury
CageFury

Looks amazing, day 1 purchase.

poopinpat
poopinpat

buy it on the ps3 and get it on steam...IM SOLD!

lordquasar
lordquasar

Jane Douglas, and love the glasses.

shinglemill
shinglemill

just release the game already. we all want it

msok568sky
msok568sky

Looks awesome, but little is known about the game for my players, the wonderful yet to come!

ACWH
ACWH

Jane Douglas still looking hot as ever. Not sure about the glasses though.

evilweav
evilweav

Valve, Blizzard and Bioware are all in the same category in my opinion. They don't really know how to make bad games.

Grovilis
Grovilis

It's crazy how Valve can consistently create fantastic games.

SUPACRAZY84
SUPACRAZY84

i have never played portal but this looks awesome

Raudell
Raudell

@kabalzer0 Did you even read the article? "There's also a picture-in-picture view that lets you see through your partner's eyes--useful for online cooperative play rather than the split-screen two-player mode."

kabalzer0
kabalzer0

can you play Portal 2 in Splitscreen mode? if you cant..... WHY THE F*** NOT?

pabloxiaoyi
pabloxiaoyi

does it support the move controller? (I hope yes)

Hexalude
Hexalude

Why do these bigshot game review companies get a hands-on, but us the public miss out as always? Not fair.

zella05
zella05

THAT IS AMAZING! i just bought a 2000£ rig and i want the graphics that the pc offers but the co op of the ps3 version. But if you buy the ps3 version you get a copy of it on steam if you link your PSN with steam!!!!! YES. and ps3 can play with pc online, double whammy of amazingness. i love you valve

foxglove1313
foxglove1313

those gameplay clips look amazing! I can't wait. =)

bsnimunf
bsnimunf

love Stephen Merchant but to be honest he just doesnt sound right in the game .. too human sounding

Braveheart42
Braveheart42

Can't wait for this game! =D Let's just hope the release date stays the same...

MKutlu97
MKutlu97

valve is on great games again

Qv9
Qv9

@Ripleness Lol I was thinking about the pros and cons of 3d. Pro: 3d can add extra realism to the game . Con: 3d may induce vomiting amongst players :). So Id have to say....3d is worth it, they should put it in the game.

Black_Pander
Black_Pander

@wes008 get it on pc, it'll be a lot better, because valve loves pc (for example, pc got all the L4D2 DLC for free) , also many many extra community maps and stuff.

LeoLex_
LeoLex_

any news on HL3 or episode3 guys?

wes008
wes008

Can't wait! Now should I get this for PC/Mac or Xbox 360? I'd do 360 due to ease of setting up a controller but the Steam player base will be larger (we've got PS3 players there, too) and I want the Steam features... but then again, Xbox Live will be just as good.

RaIn285
RaIn285

Portal 2 ?Make episode 3 already!

donnylicious
donnylicious

Can i get a date with Jane Douglas or is she married?

Ripleness
Ripleness

@Qv9 Did you just suggest the idea of 3d and then decide it was a bad idea in the same comment.

Kapsoulas
Kapsoulas

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