Author Topic: [Video Game] Portal 2 *SPOILERS*  (Read 952 times)

MiniVanMan

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[Video Game] Portal 2 *SPOILERS*
« on: April 25, 2011, 12:00:07 PM »
The first Portal was sort of a surprise to everyone, even for people like myself who had been following its development up to its release. It was a short experimental sort of game packaged in with Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (Manchester United - 0). At around 2 hours long, there wasn't a whole lot of game there. You started off in a testing facility experimenting with a handheld device that shoots inter-linking portals on certain surfaces. Though it seemed fairly straight forward - just a unique take on a puzzle game, things inside the facility seemed... off. The computer voice guiding you through the test would sometimes short out or say unusual things, and occasionally you'd get a peak into secret areas where someone had been nesting and writing strange messages on the walls.

The brilliant twist comes near the end of the game when you realize that these elements weren't just to make the game interesting - there's actually a STORY here. The conclusion of your last test sends you on a tram into an incinerator, but of course you escape using the Portal gun and eventually find the computer (GLaDOS) that's been guiding you/decieving you the whole time, and destroy her.

As part of an ARG to hype up Portal 2, the original ending of the game was changed so that instead of just fading from conciousness, you are now dragged off by an unseen robot.

Portal 2 begins 50 days after the events of Portal 1 with Chell in a relaxation chamber disguised as a crappy hotel room. The system wakes you up and has you perform a few fitness tests, then puts you back to sleep.

You're woken up again some time later. The exact time is not specified, but it's obvious right away that you've been asleep a LOT longer than you should have been. The computer says you've been asleep for 9-9-9-9-9-9... then cuts out. The plants in the room are dead and dried, the wallpaper is all faded and peeling, and everything has a severely aged look to it. The bed has a distinct imprint of your body in it. Valve says that Portal 2 takes place 200 years or so after Portal 1.

You're greeted by a Personality Sphere named Wheatley who informs you that the facilities reserve power has run out, and the life support system for the relaxation center is shutting down. Being that you're the only human left alive, he needs you to help him escape, so he frees you from your relaxation unit and sends you into some older test chambers to find a Portal device.

The initial set of test chambers are a mix of older versions of Portal 1's test chambers (overrun with plant life and crumbling apart), as well as a few different ones. This section of the facility is not the same one you traveled through in Portal 1, it just contains similar test chambers and obviously was built before the ones you went through in Portal 1. These tests establish for new players pretty much everything you'd have learned in the first game, if you had skipped it - but for returning players there are a couple new things, and at least some funny dialog to listen to.

Eventually Wheatley manages to accidentally turn on all of the breakers for the entire facility, which also engages GLaDOS' emergency back-up, reassembling her broken structure to a barely operational state and restoring her control over the facility. She begins firing up the turbines and repairing the place while returning you to your rightful place as her greatest test subject.

You start out in the last test chamber from Portal 1, the very same one you went through (albeit completely destroyed and non-functional), and work your way through to a new area featuring chambers that had been built just before you destroyed GLaDOS, so they're very experimental and even GLaDOS doesn't know how they'll work out. These chambers introduce thermal discouragement beams (lasers) that have to be aimed into recievers to power up lifts or platforms (much like the floating orbs from the first game), and can be redirected by cubes with relfecting lenses in them. You're also introduced to aerial faith plates, which are essentially high-powered spring-boards that fling you high into the air, making for some interesting puzzles when combined with portals and cubes and precise timing. There's also the Hard Light bridges which are basically catwalks made of sun light which you can redirect using portals, or use as a shield from turret fire.

Eventually Wheatley interrupts your testing and the two of you make yet another escape attempt, culminating in an event where GLaDOS is overridden and Wheatley gains control of the facility - the only problem is that Wheatley was designed as a personality core for GLaDOS to keep her from being too clever - he was designed as her handicap so she wouldn't be able to figure out how to override her morality cores and try to kill everyone again, like she once did. In other words, Wheatley was designed to be a complete moron - and now he's in control of everything. He also takes GLaDOS' personality and puts it in a potato battery.

You fall down a shaft and end up in the original salt mines where Aperture began, back in 1946. You start out in the section built in '46, and each section you complete was built in a new era, including the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's up until the most modern sections of Aperture.

This is a really cool part of the game as you get to learn a lot about Aperture's history. Valve did an excellent job making each section feel like it really is from the era, with color pallettes, materials used, etc. Very fun to explore.

The puzzles also get much more intricate as GELS are introduced. There are 3 types of GEL:
Repulsion, which is bouncy. Jump on it, you bounce back up to the height you jumped from. Also works on walls and objects - get a cube covered in the stuff and it'll bounce all over the place.

Speed gel (can't remember the exact name) which makes you run really fast. This, combined with repulsion gel and the portals make for some really, really fun moments.

Moon-Dust gel.. also can't remember the exact name, but basically they discovered that Moon Dust is the perfect portal surface, so they made a gel out of the stuff that you can use portals to send onto other surfaces you normally wouldn't be able to place a portal on.

Later on you go through the most current portions of Aperture and get introduced to the tractor beams which you float in. They work similar to the light bridges, but instead of just being able to walk on them, they carry items along a path. Combine this with gel, cubes, lasers, aerial faith plates, and portals.. and you've got some mind bending puzzles.

The ending of the game is too awesome to give away, even with a spoiler tag. The device used to defeat Wheatley is just brilliant, in a "Holy shit, that's awesome/hilarious" way. The conflict resolution with GLaDOS was almost tear-jerking, and very, very unexpected.

The game is brilliantly hilarious. It's hard to choose a favorite quote because the game is almost completely filled with hilarious lines. The characters are well written, the story is easy to follow, the puzzles are interesting, difficult but not impossibly head-ache inducing.. most times I was stuck, it was because I forgot the most simple of rules that I was taught early in the game, even back in Portal 1. Once I figured it out I was like "ohhhhhhh, DUH" :lol:

The game is extremely polished and even though the Source engine is now 7 years old, Portal 2 is an excellent looking game. It benefits from some new features added to the engine, including FULL dynamic lighting, real video display (in Half-Life 2, for example, if you were looking at screen watching a video, like Breen's announcements, that was actually a scene taking place somewhere on the map and you were essentially looking through a camera, whereas in Portal 2 you're watching embedded video files displayed on screens), new particle effects and a host of other things.

The game feels fresh and current. That's very, very impressive for a 7 year old engine.

The PS3 version doesn't look as pretty as the PC version, but it still looks great. Plays very smoothly, never experienced a hitch.

Linking your PSN and Steam accounts was easy as pie, and this IS the way of the future for PS3 - I wouldn't be surprised if Sony gave Valve full control of the friends network on PS3. You can play cross-platform with PC and Mac, chat with your Steam friends even if they're on PC, Portal 2 recieves all of the same updates at the same frequency as the PC version, and you'll eventually have access to community mods/maps. Once more games are enabled for Steamworks on PS3, we're going to see a world of possibilities open up.

Co-op is excellent fun and worth the money alone. Much like the Left 4 Dead series, it isn't a mode where you just happen to have a partner, it's a mode where you NEED your partner, and complete cooperation in order to succeed.

I really can't think of anything bad to say about Portal 2. Maybe it helps that I'm already a huge fan, but Valve really hit it out of the park with this one, as they usually tend to do anyway.

10/10.

Go buy it.