Bundled with Valve's amazing "Orange Box" game compilation, the original Portal shocked the world with its ingenious puzzles and incredibly charming narrative when it released in 2007. While the innovative 3D puzzler was universally praised, the game did receive one major criticism. "It was too short," cried many fans. Most gamers were able to finish it within five hours. With Portal 2, Valve is fixing that issue by delivering a lengthy standalone game. In addition to offering a meatier single-player campaign, Portal 2 ups the longevity by featuring a separate two-player cooperative mode.
One of the reasons Portal received so much praise was due to its witty brand of humor. The sharp writing was carried by GLaDOS, arguably the greatest videogame villain of all time. This evil "female" robot returns to put gamers through more fun and challenging test chambers.
For those unfamiliar with the franchise, Portal requires players to use a "portal gun" to solve puzzles. Whereas guns are typically used to kill enemies, the portal gun doesn't shoot any bullets. Rather, the item allows players to teleport by shooting two different colored portals (orange and blue) along walls. For instance, players can shoot a blue portal onto an adjacent surface and then blast a subsequent orange portal to a far-away ledge. By stepping into the blue portal, players exit out of the orange portal thereby reaching an otherwise impossible-to-reach area. Using this ability, players are forced to solve intricate physics-based riddles. The puzzles in Portal 2 are even more dastardly than ever, but are even more rewarding and satisfying to solve.
Because people enjoyed playing the original Portal with the help of friends, Valve incorporated a full-fledged cooperative campaign. For the first time in the franchise, players will take control of two cutesy robotic characters and will have to work together to solve joint puzzles. Because four portals can now effectively be on screen at once, expect zany chaos to ensue. Contributing to the madness is the fact that you can jokingly kill your compatriot by sending them through a poorly placed portal. But it's okay! After all, you're robots that can easily be rebuilt!
While a cooperative mode is sure to shake things up, it isn't the only addition to Portal 2. Several new transportation tools will be at your disposal. "Excursion Funnels" will allow players to shoot beams from which they can fly through, "Aerial Faith Plates" (springboard-like devices) will bounce players to incredible heights, special different colored gels will allow players to run faster or jump higher than ever, and "Thermal Discouragement Beams" will enable players to redirect lasers to destroy turrets.
Even though these new toys will certainly add to the Portal experience, it wouldn't be a Portal game if it didn't feature an excellent narrative. Luckily, Valve is taking the polished presentation and humor to the next level. Because the game is going to be much longer than the first, Portal 2 will introduce more characters and will push dialogue even further. According to Valve, over 13,000 lines of speech are used.
Joining the beloved Ellen McLain, who reprises her vocal role as GLaDOS, are J.K. Simmons ("J. Jonah Jameson" from the Spiderman movies), and Stephen Merchant (The Office, Extras).
As the story goes, a large amount of time has passed since the events of the first game and the Aperture test chambers are no longer clean, sterile white laboratories. Rather, the environment has become run-down and dilapidated. The paint has worn off, metal pipes have rusted, and wild vines are growing rampant across the facility like mold on two-week old bread. Delivering this gorgeous visual style is the latest version of Valve's Source engine. The detail and art design of the franchise has never looked better. While Portal 2's system requirements are relatively low considering its minimum required GPU is the GeForce 7600, performance is significantly boosted with a second graphics card as SLI scales up to 92%.
So is "the cake" a "lie" the second time around? You'll have to play Portal 2 to find out for yourself.