Portal 2 Preview

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If you’ve been hiding in an underground research facility since E3, then maybe you haven’t heard about the return of Chell and GLaDOS in Valve’s full-game sequel to Portal. Here’s the thing about it: Because of the incredible acclaim received by Portal, being what most gamers call a "perfect length" and featuring some of the most inventive, mind-bending puzzles of this generation, the bar is set entirely too high. How are you supposed to follow up something like that, with the wit and charm of the robotic entities, the hilarious relationship between the player and GLaDOS, and the already well fleshed-out portal gun system?

Based on the E3 preview, Valve has met the bar and exceeded it once again. Surprised? Well the Portal team feels like they’ve done 3 major things well with the first game, and have put their expertise to the test to recreate that success in an original way. First is humor, second is the actual gameplay, and third is the music (specifically citing "Still Alive" from Portal‘s credits).

If you’re worried that the robots of Aperture Laboratories can’t make you laugh anymore, think again. The demo we saw had a room full of surly, skeptical game journalists laughing out loud, partly because of GLaDOS’ curt remarks, but also largely because of one of the new companions in the game. His name is Wheatley, and he’s a personality sphere with the cheek, charm, and nonchalance of a young British gent. His performance was highlighted when, confronted by a turret bot (now more vocal), he shies away from interaction like a rock star to adoring fans.

Gameplay also doesn’t disappoint, with the biggest evolution this time around being transferring environmental effects through portals. For example, the "Pneumatic Diversity Vent" or movement beam, can be harnessed with one portal and used to suck up enemies or Chell with the other portal, to great effect. Similarly, other additions like the "Thermal Discouragement Beam," "Excursion Tunnels," and "Repulsion and Propulsion Gel" transfer through portals, making for some high-flying, fairly complex puzzles to solve. We were assured that accessibility and a workable learning curve are still the name of the game, though, so hopefully "complex" doesn’t mean "impossible."

Without revealing too much on the last issue, Valve said that the music will make a return in one form or another. Amid all the chaos of GLaDOS attempting to reconstruct the research lab, Chell navigating its torn-apart depths, and the cast of new colorful characters, Portal 2 is just as exciting as you want it to be. And that doesn’t even touch the multiplayer, which we didn’t see or hear much about at the demo, but is confirmed for its own series of levels and challenges. The return can’t come soon enough.


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Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

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