We take our first look at the sequel to Valve Software's quirky and memorable 2007 action puzzle game.
Giant booths at the Los Angeles Convention Center? Check. Giant crowds of people aimlessly shuffling through the halls of the LACC? Check. It must be E3 2010. And Portal 2 must be one of the most anticipated PC games of the show. As you probably recall, the original Portal first debuted as part of one of the best deals of 2007 in The Orange Box, a compilation that also included Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2. While those games were great, the all-too-brief Portal (which clocked in at only two to three hours of gameplay) quickly became something of a cult classic, and this was partially because of the mind-bending puzzles built around the game's "portal gun," which opened a two-way gateway through space and time practically anywhere you wanted it to. However, the main reasons so many people remember Portal so fondly are its eccentric sense of humor and its equally charming villain, the coldly robotic but strangely catty artificial intelligence GlaDOS, caretaker of the Aperture Science Facility, which the game's protagonist, the young woman Chell, struggled to escape from. Chell eventually destroyed GlaDOS on her way to freedom, after which the memorable song Still Alive played over the game's ending credits.
In Portal 2, both Chell and GlaDOS return to Aperture after the company was destroyed. For reasons that haven't yet been revealed, Chell apparently returns to the scene of the crime after a brief fly-through video that reveals a handful of the first game's deadly, gun-mounted sentry-bots rusting away and the beloved Companion Cube trapped in a ruined glass cell. Shortly afterward, she meets Wheatley, a new "personality sphere" companion that inhabits a glowing blue sensor eye and has a voice and demeanor that recall Monty Python alumnus Eric Idle's role as the bumbling and cowardly Sir Robin the Chicken-Hearted of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You first meet Wheatley suspended above the wreckage of Aperture blathering on about how he has finally achieved his freedom and can't wait to descend from the guardrail to which he's attached. He asks you to catch him and then reconsiders because he's suspended a few feet too high above Chell, and then he reconsiders again and begs Chell to catch him as he drops, and then he lands flat on his eye sensor, because why would Chell try to catch a giant robot eye sensor, anyway.
Wheatley was then shown lifted by Chell and inserted into a circuit panel to hack open a secret door in the wall, through which the duo pass and ride a conveyor belt past another derelict sentry bot, which, in its typically cutesy falsetto female voice, politely asks for help (which Wheatley stiffly refuses) and which politely thanks you anyway as you ride past. The scene then cut to an outdoor view of the compound in the middle of the jungle, showing the ruins of GlaDOS reassembling itself as Wheatley nonchalantly tries to stop the process by hacking into the nearest terminal, only to find that his supersecret password of "A-A-A-A" doesn't work. As your archenemy once again takes shape, Wheatley curtly advises you that "plan B" is "stay still and don't make eye contact," but the malevolent GlaDOS easily spots the two of you, casually stating that she has been "very busy being dead after you killed [her]" and then uttering the line that got so many laughs at the E3 2010 Sony Press Conference, "I think we can put our differences behind us, for science. You monster."
The hands-off session then cut to several video demonstrations of some of the new gameplay mechanics that are being added to the game to add new variety and, in the words of project manager Erik Johnson, "resurprise people"--that is, to give players the same sensation of fun discovery they first experienced when messing with the first game's portal gun. These include a tractor beam, a glowing blue stream of particles that slowly pulls people and objects in a single direction and flows right through the portals created by your trusty portal gun. The demonstration showed a room full of sentry bots peeking around corners with a continuous tractor beam off to the side. Careful placement of portals redirected the tractor beam next to and below several of the sentries, and then connecting the tractor beam back to the source created an infinite loop that kept the screaming sentries flying from right to left, letting us get to the exit. The next gameplay element is the "aerial faith plate," a hydraulic launch pad that sends anyone, or anything, on it flying. The demonstration video showed skillful use of the plates (on the lowest level of the complex) to get rid of pesky sentry bots--opening portals beneath them to send them tumbling onto the plates, and then opening another portal against the wall toward which they were flying, and then connecting that portal to the edge of a nearby precipice, sending them hurtling to their demise.
We then watched a video of the "thermal discouragement beam," a constantly cutting laser beam that refracts through white plastic cubes (and also travels through portals). By strategically relocating a few cubes and then opening portals through the walls, we were able to kill off the nearby sentry bots and then hop over the beams themselves to get to the exit. This video was followed by a demonstration of the "pneumatic diversification vent," a gigantic version of the plexiglas pneumatic tubes that are occasionally still used to deliver documents inside large office buildings. The tube has a powerful vacuum that, when placed properly, can suck up a handful of sentry bots standing on a level floor. Next up was "repulsion gel," which is blue goop that appears in barrels and can be spilled on the floor to make it extra springy and let Chell jump slightly higher. It can also, in its liquid form, be transported from place to place via portals. The last new gameplay mechanic we were shown was "propulsion gel," an orange goop that makes any surface extremely slippery. We watched a demonstration in a level that had a long corridor between us and the exit, and two rows of spike traps on either side that periodically clamped in and would surely kill us. By knocking over a barrel of propulsion gel on a lower level and creatively shunting the flow of the stuff through several portals, we managed to slick the floor of the long corridor and, after a running start, made a quick slide through both sets of death traps for the exit.
These new gameplay elements all seem like they'll open up lots of possibilities. And considering that the single-player game will be, according to Valve, "significantly longer" than in the first game, and considering also that Portal 2 will have two-player cooperative play, it seems like the sequel will have plenty to keep veterans busy for at least a little while. However, Johnson quickly pointed out that the team's goal is to make sure that none of the new features make the sequel any more difficult than the first game--in fact, development on Portal 2's content and levels is mostly done, and the studio is already conducting rigorous focus testing with a wide variety of different players of varying skill levels to determine which puzzles should be made a bit more lenient or a bit more challenging.
Johnson also explains that in any case, the sequel will also attempt to provide music as catchy and memorable as that in the first game--composer Jonathan Coulton (who wrote Still Alive) has already been tapped for the project, for instance. And when asked about the recently announced functionality of Steamworks in the PS3 version of Portal 2, Johnson suggested only that Steamworks' product update and matchmaking features are currently confirmed--exactly how the platform will be integrated with the PS3's functionality is otherwise still to be determined. Portal 2 will be released next year.
@punktsterdaddy The 360 and PS3 didn't get The Orange Box any cheaper at launch even though the PC version was clearly superior. I don't see how the price would vary except for console licenses.
@DirtyJoe: nah, I think that was just one of GLaDOS's sphere's, it didn't have the same voice as wheatley. Wheatley is on a rail in aperture too, he isn't merged with GLaDOS. I'd hazard a guess that wheatley is a different personality sphere. Btw, i think the recipe the blue orb was mumbling was for cake, the computers you find with the yellow font when you're on your way to GLaDOS have ingredients and a recipe to cake. mmmmmmmcakecakecakecakecake
Didn't Wheatley get burned at final battle with GlaDOS? Wasn't he that blue orb that mumbled cooking recipes?
I want this so badly. "Well, I can't do et while yer lookin'!" *Chell turns away* "Alroight, ye can look now."
I cant wait to play this game I absolutely loved the first one. Valve needs to make more games. Can you say Half Life 3?
Erm...Isn't Chell still at Aperture Science because she was dragged back in at the revised ending of Portal?
@jstur14 yea the same thing was true for fallout 3 the ps3 version was buggier then 360 or pc versions which im sure was annoying for ps3 owners
@ztg360 - People will go fanboy no matter what but I do agree that I hate when they have a superior copy of the game for a certain system... Just get the bugs out and make sure they all run the same compared to the system ( You shouldn't have 1 million bugs on one and 3 on another)
hopefully the guy that said about ps3 beign the best is wrong because i want it to be equal on all including pc,360 and ps3 because if one is superior for this game people will go all fanboy
I thought the suprise for the E3 video was going to be cake not the guy who's dealing with his stage fright. lol
Happy this is coming to PS3. I hope console and PC gamers can put our differences behind us, for science. You monster.
It's been a really long time indeed, finally Valve people are moving there buts, and I bet they hired some students again for this job, like for the first Portal game. And where is Half Life 2: Episode 3, I'm waiting for that game, for last two year's I'm just listening an empty promises. Sadly, it's always like that with Valve. Hope for the best.
This looks freakin awesome~ can't wait for the co-op! Guess the Source engine will always look great :D
@icekids Yeah i heard about that kojima is going for something big for the ps3. and sorry my internets speed is kind of slow as soon as i fix this problem i will send you a message to tell you (i have youre messages in my inbox) XD
I'm gonna get this for the PC... Why? you ask. because, with all the new gameplay elements being presented in Portal 2; it'll be nice seeing what modders can come up with using these new gameplay elements
At the end everyone was like: *silence* "...Wait, is it over already? Anyway, let's clap before he has a nervous breakdown" *clap* *clap* *cheer* *clap* *whistle*
I've seen some other gameplay videos of Portal 2, and it looks BEYOND amazing. Crushes anything at E3 that comes to my mind.
@Psychokillaz At what grounds could you possibly be saying this? the ps3 uses a single core system... while the xbox uses multi core.... therefore the ps3 will normally have "prettier" graphics, while the xbox will be able to have more going on at the screen and view further distances... so in theory the xbox is the most powerful system... but damned nosy ;) oh yeah... allot is at stake here... if they don't nail portal 2.... so many will be disappointed... because the first was just magic
@Pyschokillaz, The PS3 really isn't all that powerful (or free) compared to a gaming PC, which is the platform on which Valve usually focuses. The fact is the developers already were smart by going with the true power and freedom of the PC all these years. Unfortunately, I suspect "Portal 2" will actually get dumbed down because it has to run on the PS3 and Xbox 360. Also, I'm not sure where most people are getting this "the PS3 is only using X amount of its power" stuff, but I'm pretty sure it's bogus.
"arbrooks28 Posted Jun 22, 2010 1:45 am CET actually yes, there has been other valve games on the PS3, but they were handled by other publishers." And other developers, the PS3 ports of HL2/Orange Box were ported by EA rather than Valve, Valve did the PC versions and the 360 ports.
Psychokillaz, you're a naive fanboy if there ever was one. The freedom is definitely true however, since the PS3 has a far more open network system than the X-Box 360, but power? Give me a break, all I've heard is that the physical advantage is very small when it comes to the PS3 v 360, it's mainly just in the theoretical area where it excells.
The dev got smart and realized this game can be so much better with the power & freedom of the ps3. Most ps3 games only use 50% of the ps3's power like Killzone 2 was 55% when 360 games are maxed out at 85%-95% already. Can't wait for this.
- Release Date: Apr 19, 2011 (US)
- ESRB: E10+Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older.