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E3 2010 Portal 2

Developer: Valve | Publisher: Valve
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Genre: First Person Shooter

Release Date: 04/19/11

After getting a first glimpse at Portal 2, the original game just seems so domestic in comparison. Each puzzle took place in a sterile, secluded, and regulated environment. It was much like being a lab rat sent through a maze.

The first Portal was really a boot camp for bending the fabric of reality. So what does this make the sequel?

War.

The safe confines of Aperture Science’s labs have been eroded over the course of hundreds of years, but the main character from the first game, Chell, is still alive (cue the music). How she`s still kicking hasn`t been explained. GLaDOS remains active, and has spent her dormant years attempting to rebuild the destroyed labs, which are now partially engulfed by rubble and plant life.

Rather than just figuring out how to open the door to the next room, Portal 2 gives the impression of an actual adventure through the Aperture facility, or what`s left of it.

The environments are now much more dynamic. Tiles peel away from the walls, and elaborate traps threaten to squish the player flat. In other words, it no longer feels like being inside a clean white bathroom. The world of Portal 2 is much more dangerous, spontaneous, and unpredictable.

Adding to the adventure feeling is a genuine companion this time around—no offense to friends of the cube variety. Wheatley, a small robotic bulb (similar to Halo`s Guilty Spark), with a British accent, now follows you around--providing hilarious banter.

The witty and sharp writing of Portal has been perfectly preserved. At one point Chell inserts her spherical friend into a computer terminal so he may open a door, but he exclaims he can’t go about his “business” while she is watching. Each level we were shown was labelled with baffling titles--such as The Areal Faith Plate and Thermal Discouragement Beam.

One of the most important new features of Portal 2 is the addition of other things to put through portals besides yourself and a few other solid objects. An antigravity field, lasers and vacuum suction can be transferred through portals in order to solve puzzles. Also, two types of liquids which propel players in different ways can be spilled through the gateways.

Coming into contact with the blue liquid will bounce the player into the air, while the orange one lets them player slide across any surface as if it were a skating rink. These tools add a much more platforming feel to Portal 2, and some extremely complex stunts can be pulled off when they’re used creatively.

Getting your head around using the portal gun in the first game could be a real brain tease, so naturally we anticipated a higher level of difficulty with these new tools. It is interesting to note that Valve states the game will be no more difficult than the first. They want players to still feel a sense of accomplishment as well as a challenge. Despite the promise, Portal 2 is introducing a lot of new gameplay possibilities to consider, so we certainly don’t see it getting any easier.

Just like a trans-dimensional rift, we went into the Portal 2 presentation and got spit back out in what seemed like seconds later. The video shown ran through each new mechanic fairly quickly, making the many portal juggling acrobatics hard to keep up with. Getting to play with these new additions, rather than watch them, will give us a better comprehension of how Portal 2 will truly function.

At the moment, the experience of Portal appears to have been greatly broadened. No longer is it just a matter of solving the equation of how to get from point A to B. Instead, we have a feeling there will be something more meaningful than baked goods at the end of its quest. What that is remains to be seen.

By Mark Melnychuk - 06/17/10
ESRB Details: - Fantasy Violence, Mild Language - This is an action-adventure game in which players assume the role of Chell, a human who is trapped in a scientific testing facility. From a first-person perspective, players solve numerous physical puzzles as they navigate through post-apocalyptic environments. Players use a 'portal gun' to open transportation gateways. Throughout the game, players must avoid hazards such as stationary gun turrets, toxic substances, poisonous gas, and giant pistons; some sequences are accompanied by realistic gunfire. Robot droids can also be destroyed; for example, in one boss battle, players must defeat a robot by throwing small bombs. The words 'damn' and 'hell' can be heard in the dialogue.
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