New Game Upcoming
Portal 2 is an upcoming first-person action/puzzle video game, developed by Valve Corporation. It is the sequel to the critically acclaimed 2007 video game Portal and was announced on March 5, 2010, following a week-long alternate reality game based on new patches to the original game. Though initially slated for release in the last quarter of 2010, the game was postponed to the week of April 18, 2011. The game will be released by Valve, through both retail and Steam, for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X; PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game will be distributed by Electronic Arts. All versions of the game will become available simultaneously.
In Portal 2 the player returns as Chell, having been in stasis for several hundred years while GLaDOS and the rest of the Aperture Science facility has fallen into disrepair. Chell is awakened by one of GLaDOS's personality cores, and inadvertently wakes GLaDOS; GLaDOS is immediately displeased at Chell's return and begins testing her again through numerous chambers as she rebuilds the dilapidated facility. Portal 2 continues to challenge the player through numerous platforming and physics-based puzzles using the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (ASHPD, also dubbed the "portal gun"), a device that can create a temporary wormhole between any two flat surfaces. Other gameplay elements are added to Portal 2 including tractor beams, laser redirection, and special paint-like gels, taken from the Independent Games Festival-winning DigiPen student project Tag: The Power of Paint, that imparts special properties to objects it touches such as increased momentum. Portal 2 also includes a two-player co-operative mode, each player-character a robot that has become self-aware from GLaDOS' influence, and requires the players to work together with their own portal guns to complete each level.
Developer(s) - Valve Corporation
Publisher(s) - Valve Corporation
Distributor(s) - Valve Corporation (online)
Electronic Arts - (retail)
Engine - Source
Platform(s) - Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac OS X
Release date(s) - NA April 19, 2011 - EU April 22, 2011 - AUS April 21, 2011
Genre(s) - First person puzzle
Mode(s) Single-player, Co-operative
Rating(s) ESRB: E10+
Media/distribution Blu-ray Disc, DVD, digital distribution
Windows XP or later
3.0 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or 2.0 GHz Dualcore Processor
1 GB of RAM on Windows XP or Windows 7 (2 GB on Windows Vista)
7.6 GB hard disk space
DirectX 9 graphics card with 128 MB RAM
Sound card DirectX 9.0c compatible
Mac OS X
Mac OS X v10.6.6 or later
2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo processor
2 GB of RAM
7.6 GB hard disk space
GeForce 8600M or ATI Radeon HD 2400 or higher
See also: Gameplay in Portal
Portal 2 is a puzzle game presented from the first-person perspective. Normally, the player, as either Chell in the single-player campaign or as one of two robots, Atlas or P-body, in the co-operative campaign, can move, look, and carry and drop objects. The goal is to maneuver the characters though a number of test chambers in the Aperture Science facility, within each being to traverse the level from the start to the exit. Initial levels provide a tutorial on general movement controls and interactions with the environment. After these levels, the game will challenge the player by solving puzzles in test chambers within the Aperture Science Enrichment Center using the portal gun (the Aperture Science Hand-held Portal Device), a device that can create two portals connecting two surfaces across space. Players solve puzzles by using these portals to move unconventionally between rooms or to use the ability to fling objects or themselves across a distance. The functionality of the gun has not changed between the games, but within Portal 2, players can take advantage of the bleeding of other physical effects through the portals. Game Informer identified two examples of this: one was the ability to use air currents created by Pneumatic Diversity Vents, a series of transport pneumatic tubes, through a set of portal openings to push a turret over or to draw objects into the suction. The second example was to use the power of Excursion Funnel tractor beams through portals to bring Chell or other objects to otherwise inaccessible areas. The game also introduces special paint-like gels that can be used to impart certain physical effects to a surface such as Propulsion Gel that boosts Chell's speed as she crosses a surface, and Repulsion Gel that allows her to jump from a surface. The player will be required to determine how to transport that gel to appropriate surfaces using portals in order to progress. The gels can also be applied to objects, such as the Weighted Storage Cube crates, that affect their own physical nature. In addition to the Storage Cube, there are new types of portable objects that assist the player, including Redirection Cubes with mirrored, reflective surfaces used to redirect Thermal Discouragement laser beams, Aerial Faith Plates that can launch objects placed on them, and spherical Weighted Storage Balls, which made a brief appearance in the original game in one of the advanced chambers. A further new concept includes Hard Light Bridges that can be crossed when lit, and can be extended and redirected through portals. The heart-decorated Weighted Companion Cube, used by GLaDOS in the first game to make Chell form an emotional bond to the inanimate object before incinerating it, also appears in the sequel.
While most of the single-player game will take place in the test chambers created by GLaDOS or her personality cores, there will be times where the player will need to move behind-the-scenes in areas beyond the test chambers as they are reconfigured, leaving the player free of GLaDOS's observation and control.
The game will include a two-player co-operative mode in addition to the single player mode. Both players control separate portal guns and can use the other player's portals as necessary; each player's portals will be of a different color scheme (blue/purple, and orange/red) to help distinguish between the two sets. Because of the number of possible portal combinations, the test chambers that the players proceed through are much more difficult than the single-player campaign, requiring the two players to work together. This includes complicated laser redirection using both series of portals, or working in two separate chambers, performing actions in their side of the chamber to allow the other player to progress in theirs. Should either robot die, a new robot will be recreated shortly after, allowing players to continue on the puzzle. The game includes voice communication between players for this mode as well as split-screen for players playing locally. Online players will have the ability to temporarily enter a split-screen view to help coordinate actions. Players have the ability to place icons on the game's levels as a means of informing the other player what they need to do, and perform emotes with their partner, such as waving or hugging. Borrowing on the concept from Left 4 Dead, players, both in the co-op and single player campaign, will be able to see the outlines of placed portals through walls and other obstacles to identify their locations.
Valve has stated that both the single player and the co-operative campaigns are about each 2 to 2.5 times as long as the original campaign in Portal, with the overall game five times longer than the original. Erik Wolpaw estimates each campaign is about six hours long.
As with previous Valve games, Portal 2 will contain in-game commentary from the game developers, writers, and artists. The commentary, accessed after completing the game once, appears on node icons scattered through the game's levels, either where the development team found significant changes from their original ideas, or where ideas failed to work out for the game.
Portal 2 takes place hundreds of years after the first game; as part of the Half-Life series, the game takes place sometime after Half-Life 2. Despite her apparent destruction at the end of Portal, GLaDOS, an artificial intelligence computer system, remains functional but dormant. The player controls Chell, the previous protagonist of Portal. Retroactively patched just prior to the sequel's official announcement, the ending of the first game shows Chell being dragged away by an unseen figure with a robotic voice, after which she is placed in stasis for a period of many years. The game will again take place in the Aperture Science Labs, untouched by human hands but overrun by decay and nature. At the start of the game, Chell finds herself in what appears to be a motel room, and after a robotic voice guides her through some test, she is put to sleep. When she next gains consciousness, the age of the room's decor implies a long number of years have passed. Wheatley, a personality sphere, helps Chell to escape as the room—located in one of hundreds of shipping containers among a giant warehouse—shifts and moves, and she finds herself back in the test chambers of the Aperture facility. Wheatley is one of many personality cores which have become active and become independent from GLaDOS in the intervening years, using the automated systems of Aperture Science to create their own microcosms within the facility. The cores themselves are only able to move through overhead rail systems. Wheatley has become concerned for the state of decay and seeks to correct it. Wheatley acts as the player's guide during the tutorial and initial stages. Soon, the two encounter the dormant GLaDOS and accidentally wake her; she accuses Chell of murdering her years ago. GLaDOS begins to rebuild the ruined facility, and puts Chell under more tests, stating "I think we can put our differences behind us. For science. You monster." Parts of the story are bookended by the "Rat Man", an unseen character in the first game who wrote messages on walls to guide and warn Chell; having witnessed GLaDOS' defeat at the end of the first game, the Rat Man's drawings summarize the first game during Portal 2' introduction. The Rat Man character will be further developed in "ancillary" material outside of the game surrounding the game's release.
Two new characters will be introduced for the two-player cooperative mode, which will have its own unique plot and setting. These two characters are Atlas and P-body, a modified personality core and turret gun, respectively; both units are bipedal and equipped with their own portal guns. Though once part of the networked facility, they have become separate entities and are treated to similar abuse by GLaDOS through a series of complicated test chambers through her "Cooperative Testing Initiative". The robots will make "expressive noises" in place of distinguishable dialogue, according to Valve's Doug Lombardi. From previews, the robots' mannerisms suggest a double act similar to Laurel and Hardy, according to some journalists. GLaDOS appears to be troubled by the robots working together, and will attempt to aggravate their relationship through verbal trickery such as praising one robot over the other.
Valve's Doug Lombardi commented that Portal was originally included as an add-on product to The Orange Box as, to Valve, it was a piece of trial software and had considered The Orange Box as a safety net if it failed; Lombardi stated, "There was no way we could have planned for the success of Portal." After receiving high praise and proving its worth, Valve determined that Portal 2 should be its own product, committing more resources than it did for the first game for its release. Compared to the previous Portal team that consisted of about 8 people, Portal 2 had a dedicated 30-person staff working on its development. Valve President Gabe Newell has stated that they know what players are looking for in the full sequel, and expect that Portal 2 will be "the best game we’ve ever done." Project manager Erik Johnson commented that the first Portal caught people by surprise and "made them think about games in a different way". Johnson believed their goal with Portal 2 was to find a way to "re-surprise" players, and considered that a "pretty terrifying" prospect. Original Portal designer Kim Swift, however, has left Valve to join Airtight Games.
Portal 2 was designed to give the player incremental steps in understanding portals and their use within the game. This approach led to two basic types of chambers. The first type, which Valve calls "checklisting", provides a relatively safe environment for the player to experiment with a fundamental aspect of a new gameplay concept. The second type of chamber is one that combines these elements in new ways to make the player think laterally, giving the player a rewarding experience for completing the chamber. Chambers were first developed through whiteboard via isometric drawings, with the developers performing a sanity check on the chamber, before being created into simple levels through the Hammer level editor. Extensive playtesting was used to make sure the solutions to each chamber were neither overtly obvious nor difficult to see, and to observe alternative solutions discovered by playtesters; based on their input, the design team would keep these alternate solutions viable within the level, or would work around and block the alternate solutions if they were too easy. Once a chamber was considered ready to proceed, the Valve artists then would add elements such as detailed texturing, dynamic lighting, and vegetation, using an advanced version of the Source engine. These versions would then be sent back for further playtesting to verify the new elements did not prevent players from finding proper solutions, with further iterations between artists and playtesters until such issues were resolved. Portal 2 also contains advanced rendering techniques for liquids that were developed from Left 4 Dead 2. Portal 2 combines the concepts of "flowing" surface maps to mimic the motion of water in a setting, along with "debris flow" maps and random noise to create realistic real-time rendering of water effects. Johnson stated that Valve's aim was not to make Portal 2 more difficult than its predecessor, but instead wanted to keep the same idea of a game "where you think your way through particular parts of the level, and feel really smart when you solve it".
The co-operative gameplay came about from requests from players as well from anecdotes of players working together on the same computer or console to solve the game's puzzles, likened by Wolpaw to players working together on the same computer to solve point-and-click adventure games. The co-operative campaign was also inspired by Valve's Left 4 Dead co-operative games, where players would find enjoyment after playing the game, discussing their personal experiences with the game. While the single player campaign in Portal 2 is designed to avoid frustrating the player, the co-operative levels are more focused on coordination and communication, and are recognized by Valve as being much more difficult than the single-player puzzles. Valve had avoided including timed puzzles into the single player experience in both Portal and Portal 2, but found that the inclusion of these into the co-operative mode was effective, giving players a positive feeling after being able to plan and execute difficult maneuvers. Other puzzle elements, such as the light bridges, are further inspirations from Left 4 Dead. Each puzzle chamber in the co-operative mode was assured of requiring four portals to solve as to prevent puzzles being solved by only the actions of one player. Except in few cases, the chambers were designed where neither player would remain out of sight of the other in order to promote communication and cooperation. Some of the puzzle chambers were designed as asymmetric chambers, where one player would manipulate portals and controls to allow the other player to cross the room, helping to emphasize that the two characters, while working together, are also separate entities. The ability to tag surfaces with instructional icons for one's partner was soon realized as a necessary element, as it was found to be much more effective for cooperation than through simple verbal instruction.
In addition to the cooperative mode, Valve had considered a competitive mode. According to writer Erik Wolpaw, the mode resembled a variation of speedball where one team would attempt to transport a ball from one side of the playing field to the other using portals, while the other team would attempt to stop them with their own use of portals. While Wolpaw said the matches would begin with this objective in mind, they would quickly descend into chaos. Instead, they realized people enjoyed solving puzzles with portals more, and focused on the cooperative mode.
Erik Wolpaw will return to write out the game's script in addition to Chet Faliszek, main writer for the Left 4 Dead games, and National Lampoon veteran Jay Pinkerton. Valve has stated that the game contains over 13,000 lines of dialog between the single player and cooperative campaign.
The story for Portal 2 mirrors ideas from the first game; to contrast the destruction of the Aperture Science facility by the player in Portal, the new game starts with the reconstruction of the facility by GLaDOS. This helped to create the image of Aperture Science as a "living, breathing place", with GLaDOS given full control to restructure and arrange the setting as she needed it, according to Wolpaw. While they introduced new characters into the game, the focus of the story in Portal 2 remained the connection and interaction between Chell and GLaDOS, and focuses more on the fallout from Chell's destruction of GLaDOS from the first game. Valve originally had explored using other characters for the protagonist in Portal 2 before returning to the player-protagonist character of Chell from Portal. In early playtesting for the game, Valve had omitted Chell, believing her story to have been done with Portal, and introduced a new player-character; though playtesters were able to accept playing as a different character for the first part of the game, they became disoriented when GLaDOS did not recognize their player-character. Valve reintroduced Chell as the player-character, believing that it was not so much the specific character but the "continuation of the player’s experience", and what they did to GLaDOS in Portal that was valued, according to Wolpaw. In considering the interaction between Chell and GLaDOS, Johnson compared GLaDOS to "a jealous ex-girlfriend", noting that "[Chell is] the only person she can have interaction with, but the problem is her only way of interacting with anyone is to test them". GLaDOS will introduce each chamber and congratulate the player on completing it; though they could have included intermediate dialog from GLaDOS while the player attempts to solve each chamber, they found this would be distracting to players, and limited her presence in the game to only these points.
Early envisioning of Chell included a more utilitarian outfit, something that would have been designed by a computer for identifying and tracking its test subject. These images also included a hat, envisioned by the artists to help to keep Chell's appearance as a test subject similar to test pilots, as well as adorned with the number 6 to serve as a tracking means for the facilities' computers. However, later in development, they returned to the orange "dehumanizing" jumpsuit used in the first game, but now partially disrobed to the waist, giving the sense of more freedom of movement. This gives Chell the appearance of standing out as an individual compared to being a numbered test subject, according to Valve's art team. The reuse of the jumpsuit gives those people that have played Portal a sense of familiarity while reflecting the changes in the Aperture Science center. They also designed Chell to appear physically capable of completing the test chambers, but with some vulnerability.