by Jeff Gates
previewed on PS3
“I Stand Corrected!”
Portal captured the hearts of millions of gamers with its insanely difficult puzzles and charming yet morbid humor. Not long after destroying GLaDOS, fans cried for more mind-bending, high-flying teleportation. We all got our wish with the announcement that Valve was working their ingenious little butts off on the sequel.
Could it get any better? Yes it can. Not only will the sequel be a full-retail title but it will also be available for the Playstation 3 same day as Xbox 360. This announcement came at E3 as one of the world’s most popular PS3 cynics (and Valve co-founder), Gabe Newell, stepped onto the stage at the Sony event and revealed that he had been too harsh on the PS3. He went on to say “we believe the Steamworks support included will make it the best console version of the game.”
One of the biggest successes of Portal was the world that Valve had created. The pristine, clean-cut decorum and chrome mechanical devices were offset by green pools ready for your demise, scaffold ridden backrooms and of course the demented stylings of GLaDOS. However, when such a unique world is created it is imperative that the developers go back to the drawing board for any sequels to keep the franchise as fresh and original as possible. This is exactly what has been done for the Portal franchise.
A huge amount of time has passed between the two games. Thus a lot of vegetation has grown over the ruins of the Aperture Science labs. Vines are strewn across splintered walls, panels lay in piles on the ground and companion cubes are left to plummet into pits of fire. During Portal 2 GLaDOS is essentially rebuilding all the chambers around you. As she attempts to bring the facility back to its original state – and form an alliance with Chell - Chell makes a new friend named Wheatley, a rather charming personality core with a British accent. Wheatley is tasked with assisting Chell in her escape of the facility. It is already evident that Wheatley’s quotes will be the new cake, and trust me he’s no fibber.
Answering Fans Demands
Valve has said from the start that Portal was supposed to be a one-time deal. They had no plans of continuing the story. That is until fans got their hands on it. The massive popularity forced Valve back to the drawing board with this franchise and they were tasked with coming up with new and creative ways to continue the mind-bending fun for all. What made the first Portal so great were the increasingly difficult puzzles and the hilarious dry tongue in cheek humor.
What will make Portal 2 fantastic above everything else is the cooperative play that Valve is bringing to the clamoring masses. The co-op levels promise to be incredibly difficult and will cause even more “How the F?!?” moments. In co-op mode you play as two loveable robots, informally named Red and Blue. Red is a tall lanky fellow and Blue is short and stubby, and possibly a little too clingy. GLaDOS informs the duo “These next tests require cooperation; consequently they have never been solved by a human. That’s where you come in. You don’t know pride, you don’t know fear. You don’t know anything, you’ll be perfect”. The obvious fact that two players means twice the portals leads us all to believe the co-op mode will be twice as hard and twice as fun. Expect a lot of yelling, crying and cheering between friends over the co-op mode in Portal 2.
Gel Me Up!
When it comes to gameplay no one is more creative than Valve and the first Portal is a testament to that. The sequel also seems it will continue the long running tradition of craftsmanship from the infamous developer. Portals return, obviously, but some great additions have all of our brains running at full power coming up with puzzle possibilities. Two different kinds of gels that each creates a very distinctive reaction add to the portal jumping. Repulsion Gel creates a blue puddle which acts a lot like a trampoline on some heavy drugs. Use one to scale tall obstacles or two if you wish to resemble a coffee loving nine year old bouncing off walls. Propulsion Gel, however, acts like a slip-n-slide set to turbo. This orange goop lets you zip across it at a high rate of speed to traverse the longer, deadlier obstacles. While these two additions would be great on their own, when you add spring board like devices that shoot you across maps, blue tractor beams that get you out of a jam and help you transport items, and vacuum tubes that violently suck up everything in their path, you have the components of endless fun.
A Full Retail Game
However, no game is endless. This much I know. Even though we would all love for Portal 2 to be infinite like the portals it renders, that just isn’t possible. Valve did answer the call however and is handing us a full game here. While some may remain skeptical if a game like Portal can transfer into 8+ hours of fun I stand behind Valve because if anyone can pull it off it would be them. As we saw with Portal and will see with the sequel, Valve delivers a rich gameplay experience mixed with a great sense of humor and an even greater sense of accomplishment for the gamer. Whether you are a skeptic or a believer “I think we can put our differences behind us, for science, you monster.”