E3 2010: Portal 2 almost made me cry... almost

Why Valve's follow up to Portal will make you cream your pants.

<i>Image courtesy of flamescape.com</i>

Image courtesy of flamescape.com

My fan-girl tears threatened to spill out when I watched the preview for Portal 2 at E3 this year.

Portal, despite being three years old (it might as well be 40, in gamer years) still rates very high on my favourite games list and remains one of the most original games ever released. It had a quirky storyline, a hilarious antagonist and innovative gameplay.

Who would have thought an FPS puzzle game would be so much fun? Was that even a category before Portal rolled in?

Dang it, I'm gushing again. We're here to talk about Portal 2, not to simply revel in the glory of the original.

So what can I tell you about GlaDOS return to our PCs and consoles (including -- hells yeah! -- the Sony PlayStaion 3)? In short, it will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will make you cream your pants.

Valve has promised to deliver a Portal 2 that is bigger, better and longer than the Portal 1. We've all heard big claims like that before, but I have to say, I'm inclined to believe them.

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The company showed a hands-off demonstration of the upcoming sequel and clued us in on what's been happening at Aperture Science. After many years of neglect, the Aperture Science facility is now a run down labyrinth of broken test rooms intertwined with the natural environment. Chell, the main protagonist from Portal 1 has been in a slumber for an unspecified number of years and wakes up to find the murderous artificial intelligence that ran the facility, GlaDOS, is Still Alive (you see what I did there?).

She's still as passively-aggressive and funny as ever (my favourite new quote from GlaDOS: “I think we can put our differences behind us. For science. You monster”). A new character, Wheatley, one of GlaDOS's personality cores, will be a companion and comic relief for you in the game.

The portal gun remains the weapon of choice but this time around, Valve has added some -– okay, a lot -– of TNT into the gameplay to improve the way you use the In and Out portals.

Players are now equipped with a number of new tools to manipulate such as the Repulsion Gel (which make surfaces very bouncy), the Propulsion Gel (which makes surfaces extra slippery), a rocket launching pad called the Aerial Faithe Plate and the Pneumatic Diversity Vent (which is essentially a giant vacuum cleaner – and that's just some of the new mechanics you will see in the game).

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In one scene, we see Chell splatter a heap of Propulsion Gel onto a straight narrow path to skid past a row of clapping pads with spikes on them. She narrowly escapes becoming minced meat.

Now more than ever, where you place your portals to redirect these new elements (i.e. redirecting the gels or the direction of the pneumatic vent) can make for a spectacular win as you overwhelm enemies (welcome back, bots) and overcome the hellish obstacle courses.

I had to wipe the drool off my face during the demonstration but I was disappointed to note the absence of any two-player co-op clips (though I can only assume they are still fine tuning it).

In conclusion, Portal 2 already looks like like it will give us a richer storyline and gameplay experience than its famed predecessor. It is not due out until 2011 on PC, Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 but it is looking very promising.

The question now is, who can I promise my future first-born to so I can be the first to get my grubby hands on Portal 2?

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Spandas Lui

GamePro Australia
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