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Portal 2 Launch Center

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Portal 2 Launch Center

Written by Chris Boots-Faubert for

Introduction and Synopsis

A single-player / co-op puzzle based game, Portal 2 is the direct sequel to the original Portal (2007), which consisted of a series of puzzles that must be solved by the players character, who uses their brain and the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (ASHPD, also called the "portal gun"), a unit that can create inter-spatial portals between flat planes.

The tests are created and conducted by an artificial intelligence called GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System), a computer whose distinct disembodied voice instructs the player at the start of each test, and then offers criticism and sometimes a very twisted form of praise. As part of the motivation and to get the player to continue the testing procedure after particularly brutal sequences, GLaDOS often mentions the wonderful cake that will be your reward upon completing the tests -- which is the backstory to the T-Shirt phenomenon that continues to be popular at game and comic Con's of a black T-Shirt with silver or blue lettering saying "The Cake is a Lie!"

Portal was originally conceived as the spiritual successor to the freeware game Narbacular Drop, a game released by students of the for-profit DigiPen Institute of Technology in 2005 as a programming and logic problem. Some of the students who created the game were brought in to Valve to develop Portal, which was subsequently integrated into the Half-Life Game Series, and featured prominently in the Orange Box release as well as being sold as a stand-alone title for PC, and recently via XBox Live.

One of the more popular elements to the game is the theme song, written by songwriter and musician Jonathan Coulton; called "Still Alive" the song plays over the end credits of the game, and is sung by classically trained operatic soprano Ellen McLain, and was included as DLC for the music rhythm game Rock Band 2.

The player's character is a human female named Chell (who is actually a clone recreated each time she ends up dead as the result of failing one of the tests) who GLaDOS apparently feels a considerable amount of antagonism towards.

Chell is a particularly agile and fit example of humanity, having been created in a lab to meet a minimum set of standards that would permit her to theoretically pass any test set up by GLaDOS. She is equipped with mechanized heel springs that prevent damage from falling, and a central nervous system that can withstand incredible amounts of pain. Her natural healing abilities allow for quick recovery from burns, contusions, and even broken bones, but as tough as she is, she still can be killed by various other hazards in the test chambers.

In Portal 2 the player returns as Chell -- having been stored in suspended animation for several hundred years while the Aperture Science facility fell apart, Chell is inadvertently removed from the stasis chamber by a malfunctioning maintenance routing, while the same routing accidentally reactivates GLaDOS as well. When GLaDOS becomes aware of Chell's presence, she immediately begins the testing sequences again while organizing the remaining robots and undertaking efforts to rebuild the facility.

Game Play

Elements of the tests created by GLaDOS include turret guns, bouncing balls of energy, and electrified toxic liquid, mechanical crushers that can appear in opening in the floor/wall/ceiling -- really, defining what actually constitutes a floor or wall in the game is actually rather difficult.

If Chell is dealt a certain amount of damage in too short a time period by one of these devices or by falling a long distance, she will die -- and be replaced by a clone -- but thanks to her manipulated genetics she returns to full health fairly quickly when simply injured, and the effect of injury is so fleeting that no health status display is even provided in the games.

Some obstacles, such as the energy balls, toxic liquid, and crushing pipes, will deal this necessary amount of damage with a single blow, thus causing instant death, which seems to irritate GLaDOS, but that may simply be due to the inconvenience of being forced to grow another clone -- while from the player's point of view nothing has happened, being that they are not aware that they are a clone.

Over the course of playing the game GLaDOS provides a certain amount of biographical information about and to Chell, but none of it can be believed due to the fact that GLaDOS is utterly dishonest and prone to lies, so cannot be trusted.

Portal 2 continues to challenge the player with tests that include platforming and physics-based puzzles that require the use of the portal gun. Game play -- including the strategic elements -- is very similar to that of the first game, though with the addition of tractor beams, laser redirection, and special paint-like gels with special properties that alter the physics of objects, causing them to speed up or turn at right angles among its other effects.

Game play in Portal 2 includes a two-player co-operative mode, with each player represented as a robot that has become self-aware, allowing the players to work together with their own portal guns to complete each level, as well as the traditional single player mode using Chell.

Portal 2 was green-lighted based primarily upon the popularity of the original game, and according to the developers, represents just the first in a series of Portal games that are on the way. Portal 2 is set for a February 2011 release date, and will be available on Microsoft Windows PC, XBox 360, and PS3 gaming systems.


Street Date: 9 February 2011
Publisher: Valve
Developer: Valve
Focus: Single/Co-op Puzzle
Platforms: Windows PC / XBox / PS3
Genre: Puzzle / Action
Official Content Ratings: ESRB Rating: T BBFC: 15

Posted: 3rd Nov 2010
Portal 2,


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