Portal is the only game in which you teleport your way through puzzles all for the sake of cake. Valve Corporation originally released Portal in its bundle, The Orange Box. Portal is a first-person puzzle game which challenges the player to “think with portals.” The game involves the use of a portal gun to create two portals in order to teleport throughout the multiple test chambers. Not only are the puzzles interesting and challenging, but so is the story. The silent protagonist, Chell, travels through the Aperture Science facility while being pursued by one of the most memorable antagonists in gaming history: GLaDOS, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) character in charge of running the facility. GLaDOS provides a lot of humor.
Despite its short length of four hours, Portal became a cult classic shortly after its release. Now, four years later, the highly anticipated sequel is soon to arrive.
The game’s story will begin with the player returning as Chell, who has been in stasis for several hundred years. The Aperture Science facility has deteriorated with wildlife overtaking the test chambers. Chell’s outfit has evolved to make her character appear more persevering, as her trademark orange jumpsuit is now tied casually around her waist. Shortly after waking up, the player encounters a new character called Wheatley, a friendly “personality sphere” who tries to help the player escape but accidently awakens GLaDOS. Unfortunately, GLaDOS (who is “Still Alive”) bears a grudge against Chell. The story for the game has improved with new characters and more humorous dialogue.
Portal 2 runs on Valve’s Source Engine, the graphics engine that powers all of their latest games. Over the years, with the releases of Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, the Source Engine has seen many visual improvements, making Portal 2 much more visually stunning than its predecessor. The setting will be much more atmospheric by including background movement and a more interactive environment. There is much more shifting, moving and grinding of the facility, all run by GLaDOS. It will be more immersive than the first game.
Many new creative mechanics have been added to spice up the game play. The well-loved portal gun remains the same, but Valve has designed fresh devices that the player will use to solve more puzzles. New redirection cubes with reflective surfaces will be used to guide laser beams. A floating gravitation bridge will be used with portals in order to walk across a gap. Faith plates (jumping pads) will be used to toss both the player and objects over great distances. There is also the new excursion funnel, a type of levitating field that can be used with portals for lifting the player and objects to higher areas. In some areas there are Pneumatic Diversity Vents, (basically vacuum tubes) which can be used to carry objects away with its suction.
The most innovative feature for Portal 2 is the gel system. The gel system involves a type of gel which the player can use with portals to essentially “paint” surfaces. Repulsion gel allows the player to jump higher, and the propulsion gel boosts the player’s speed across a surface. The combination of these new features in addition to the previous features will offer fresh new puzzles. The amount of new game play content easily makes this game a worthy successor.
Finally, in addition to the single player mode, the game will also include a two-player cooperative mode. Unlike most games where cooperative modes are simply two-player versions of the single player mode, Portal 2 will feature the cooperative mode as an entirely separate campaign with a new story and new characters. The cooperative mode features two playable robots, one controlling blue and green portals and the other controlling red and orange portals. Valve is known for making very likeable robotic characters, and based on the trailers we can expect to see a lot of character in these charming robots. The puzzles for the co-op will be specifically designed for two players, promoting teamwork.
Both the single player mode and the cooperative mode are said to be twice as long as the first game. Portal 2 is scheduled for release on Tuesday, April 19, 2011 and can currently be pre-ordered on Steam, an online store for video games.
If the first Portal offered so much humor and fun, one can only imagine what the much bigger sequel will offer in its entirety. One question remains: Was the cake a lie?