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Portal 2

Portal 2

Portal 2

Portal 2 is a first-person puzzle-platform video game developed and published by Valve Corporation. It is the sequel to Portal and was released on April 19, 2011 for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The retail versions of the game are distributed by Electronic Arts, while online distribution of the Windows and OS X versions is handled by Valve's content delivery service, Steam. Portal 2 was announced on March 5, 2010, following a week-long alternate reality game based on new patches to the original game. Before the game's release on Steam, the company released the Potato Sack, a second multi-week alternate reality game, involving 13 independently developed titles which culminated in a distributed computing spoof to release Portal 2 several hours early.

The game retains Portal's gameplay elements, and adds new features, including tractor beams, laser redirection, bridges made of light, and paint-like 'gels' accelerating the player's speed, allowing the player-character to jump higher or place portals on any surface. These gels were created by the team from the Independent Games Festival-winning DigiPen student project Tag: The Power of Paint. In the single-player campaign, the player controls protagonist Chell, awoken from suspended animation after many years, who must navigate the now-dilapidated Aperture Science Enrichment Center during its reconstruction by the reactivated GLaDOS, a powerful supercomputer. The storyline introduces new characters, including Wheatley and Cave Johnson . Ellen McLain reprised the role of GLaDOS. Jonathan Coulton and The National each produced a song for the game. Portal 2 also includes a two-player cooperative mode, in which the robotic player-characters Atlas and P-Body are each given a portal gun and are required to work together to solve puzzles. Valve provided post-release support for the game, including additional downloadable content and a simplified map editor to allow players to create and share test chambers with others.

Although some reviewers initially expressed concerns about the difficulty of expanding Portal into a full sequel, Portal 2 received near universal acclaim. The game's writing, pacing, and dark humor were highlighted as stand-out elements, and critics applauded the voice work of McLain, Merchant, and Simmons. Reviews also highlighted the new gameplay elements, the game's challenging but surmountable learning curve, and the additional cooperative mode. Some gaming journalists ranked Portal 2 among the top games of 2011, and several named it their Game of the Year.

Portal 2 Plot

The Portal series takes place in the Half-Life universe. The events in Portal take place between the first and second Half-Life games; while Portal 2 is set "a long time after" the events in Portal and Half-Life 2.

Before Portal, Aperture Science conducted experiments to determine whether human subjects could safely navigate dangerous "test chambers", until the artificial intelligence GLaDOS, governing the laboratory, killed its inmates. At the end of the first game the protagonist Chell destroys GLaDOS and momentarily escapes the facility, but is dragged back inside by an unseen figure with a robotic voice, later identified by writer Erik Wolpaw as the "Party Escort Bot". A promotional comic shows estranged Aperture Science employee Doug Rattmann, who used graffiti to guide the player in Portal, placing Chell into suspended animation to save her life, until the beginning of Portal 2.

Portal 2 Gameplay

Portal 2 is a first-person perspective puzzle game. Players take the role of Chell in the single-player campaign, as one of two robots—Atlas and P-Body—in the cooperative campaign, or as a simplistic humanoid icon in community-developed puzzles. These four characters can explore and interact with the environment. Characters can withstand limited damage but will die after sustained injury. There is no penalty for falling onto a solid surface, but falling into bottomless pits or toxic pools kills the player character immediately. When Chell dies in the single-player game, the game restarts from a recent checkpoint; in the cooperative game, the robot respawns shortly afterwards without restarting the puzzle. The goal of both campaigns is to explore the Aperture Science Laboratory— a complicated, malleable mechanized maze. While most of the game takes place in modular test chambers with clearly defined entrances and exits, other parts occur in behind-the-scenes areas where the objectives are less clear.

The initial tutorial levels guide the player through the general movement controls and illustrate how to interact with the environment. The player must solve puzzles using the 'portal gun' or 'Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device', which can create two portals connecting two distant surfaces depicted as matte white, continuous, and flat. Characters can use these portals to move between rooms or to "fling" objects or themselves across a distance. Outlines of placed portals are visible through walls and other obstacles for easy location.

Game elements include Thermal Discouragement Beams (lasers), Excursion Funnels (tractor beams), and Hard Light Bridges, all of which can be transmitted through portals. Aerial Faith Plates launch the player or objects through the air and sometimes into portals. The player must disable turrets or avoid their line of sight. The Weighted Storage Cube has been redesigned, and there are new types: Redirection Cubes, which have prismatic lenses that redirect laser beams, and spherical Edgeless Safety Cubes. The heart-decorated Weighted Companion Cube reappears briefly. Early demonstrations included Pneumatic Diversity Vents, shown to transport objects and transfer suction power through portals, but these do not appear in the final game. All of these game elements open locked doors, or help or hamper the character from reaching the exit.

Paint-like gels impart certain properties to surfaces or objects coated with them, themselves dispensed from pipes and transported through portals. Players can use orange Propulsion Gel to cross surfaces more quickly, blue Repulsion Gel to bounce from a surface, and white Conversion Gel to allow surfaces to accept portals. Some surfaces, such as grilles, cannot be coated with a gel. Water can block or wash away gels, returning the surface or object to its normal state.

The game includes a two-player cooperative mode. Two players can use the same console with a split screen, or can use a separate computer or console; Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and PlayStation 3 users can play with each other regardless of platform; a patch provided in late 2012 added split-screen support for Windows and Mac OS X users under "Big Picture" mode. Both player-characters are robots that control separate portal guns and can use the other character's portals. Each player's portals are of a different color scheme, whereof one is blue and purple and the other is orange and red. A calibration chamber separates the characters to teach the players to use the communication tools and portals. Most later chambers are less structured and require players to use both sets of portals for laser or funnel redirection, launches, and other maneuvers. The game provides voice communication between players, and online players can temporarily enter a split-screen view to help coordinate actions. Players can "ping" to draw the other player's attention to walls or objects, start countdown timers for synchronized actions, and perform joint gestures such as waving or hugging. The game tracks which chambers each player has completed and allows players to replay chambers they have completed with new partners.

Portal 2's lead writer Erik Wolpaw estimates each campaign about six hours long. Portal 2 contains in-game commentary from the game developers, writers, and artists. The commentary, accessible after completing the game once, appears on node icons scattered through the chambers. According to Valve, each of the single-player and cooperative campaigns is 2 to 2.5 times as long as the campaign in Portal, with the overall game five times as long.

Reception
Portal 2 was a strong favorite of gaming journalists during closed-door previews at the E3 2010 convention. The Game Critics Awards, selected by journalists and critics, awarded Portal 2 the title of Best PC Game and Best Action/Adventure Game, and nominated the game for Best of Show and Best Console Game. IGN named Portal 2 as its Best of E3 for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 systems and Best Puzzle Game, and nominated it for Best Overall Game. Gamespy named Portal 2 the Best Overall Game and Best Puzzle Game of E3. Portal 2 won the 2010 Spike Video Game Award for "Most Anticipated Game for 2011".

Portal 2 received universal acclaim from reviewers on its release, and received an average score of 95 out of 100 according to review aggregator Metacritic, and between the different platform versions was ranked as the third- to fifth-highest rated game by the aggregator throughout 2011. Several reviewers identified Portal 2 as an early contender for "Game of the Year", while others called it one of the best games of all time. Upon release, the game was widely considered to be as good as or better than the original. Eurogamer's Oli Welsh said that the game avoids the normal pitfalls that developers introduce in sequels, stating that "Portal is perfect. Portal 2 is not. It's something better than that." Gus Mastrapa of the A.V. Club wrote that with Portal 2, Valve had alleviated any doubts that "Portal could be expanded into a big, narrative experience with all the bells and whistles of a mainstream gaming hit". IGN's Charles Onyett wrote that the sequel "makes the original look like the prototype it was" by expanding the game in gameplay and story.

Most reviewers praised the writing and voice acting in the game. Entertainment Weekly's Dan Stapleton of PC Gamer was able to predict many of the plot twists within Portal 2's story but "still looked forward to witnessing exactly how the characters would react"; he praised the development of the characters, as "their charm makes what would otherwise be an empty and lifeless world feel boisterous and alive". The characters were well received. Oynett wrote that Merchant's "obvious enthusiasm for the role benefits the game" and that the "consistently clever writing perfectly complements the onscreen action". Game Informer's Adam Biessener considered Johnson to be an even better character than GLaDOS, and praised the game's "pitch-perfect delivery" and "brilliant comedic timing". In contrast, Peter Bright of Ars Technica wrote that compared to the loneliness and despair he felt while playing the first game, the characters, Wheatley and GLaDOS, lost some of this feeling and "the inane babble served only to disrupt the mood".

Portal 2's additional gameplay elements, like light bridges, lasers, and the gels, were praised as appropriate additions to the game. Reviewers were pleased with the difficulty of the puzzles throughout the game, which appeared visually complicated at first but had uncomplicated solutions. Time's Evan Narcisse said that he feared the addition of new gameplay elements would "dilute the purity of the experience, but everything's still executed with Valve's high level of charm and panache." Tom Hoggins of The Telegraph praised the manner with which these elements were introduced through a "brilliant learning curve of direction, rather than instruction", and considered it a "design ethos that is supremely generous, but dealt with marvellous economy". Chris Kohler of Wired wrote that the game's puzzles "never require excessively complicated solutions", and that much of the puzzle solving is "filled with moments that will have you slapping your forehead and thinking, 'Oh my God, I’m such an idiot—why didn’t I see that before?' ". Stapleton was not as pleased with the gel additions as with the other new mechanics, calling it "difficult to control". He felt that they have "only a couple of uses at most". Bright felt that Portal 2 was easier than its predecessor, in part that he felt much of the game was effectively tutorials for the new gameplay additions, requiring "careful use of the tools provided", leaving him with the impression that "the game was on rails".

The cooperative puzzle solving aspect was highlighted as a valuable addition to the game. Welsh called the cooperative mode "one of the most satisfying and genuinely collaborative gaming experiences you can have with a friend". Onyett wrote, "Valve knows how a good co-operative mode requires a game design that doesn't simply encourage but requires you to work together. In Portal 2, communication is vital to success". Several reviewers praised the non-verbal cues that players could initiate to work with their partners. Portal 2 was praised for the amount of detail in its design, sound, and music. Nelson credited the "sheer amount of detail" put into the game's world, and wrote, "it all feels very real and natural with brief moments where you're simply sucked into this world". Onyett was impressed with the amount of visual details and capabilities Valve achieved from their Source game engine and that the added details and animations of the levels "consistently serv not only to entertain the eye but to expand our understanding of the game's characters". Hoggins wrote that the game's world reacted to the player-character Chell's presence "in a startlingly organic way", and praised Valve's design as "an achievement of world-building that compares favourably with BioShock's underwater city of Rapture".

Some reviewers said that the second act of the game, taking place in the less-structured portion of the old Aperture facilities, may be confusing to some players. Young wrote that in the second act, the game "cranks up the difficulty level at a speed that may dishearten casual gamers", and said that particularly when traveling between chambers, he had "absolutely no idea where I was supposed to head next". Kohler wrote that while the player can explore the abandoned areas of Aperture, "none of it ever does anything—it’s just a lot of sterile, duplicated, non-interactive environments". Watters wrote that the loading time between the game's levels, in contrast to earlier Valve games, are "long enough to make you take notice and wish they were shorter". Watters also said it was unfortunate that the game lacks "stand-alone test chambers and leaderboards ... but even so, Portal 2 is not light on content" without these. Welsh said that the attempt to recapture the spirit of the song "Still Alive" at the end credits of Portal 2 "was a mistake". Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw wrote in his Extra Punctuation column that, while Portal 2 was a "very good game," it unnecessarily retconned portions of the origin game's story, and did not really further the game's concept. However, this criticism was directed solely at the campaign, and he stated that he found the game's co-op to be "much more appealing and much more within the spirit of the original."

On April 20, 2011, it was reported that customers had launched a protest against perceived shortcomings of Portal 2. Users complained that the game was too short—some said it is only four hours long, about the existence of paid, downloadable content for some versions at launch, and that the Windows and Mac OS X versions were ports of the console version. Other journalists countered that the quality of the graphics on the Windows and Mac versions did not suggest a simple console port. Stephen Totilo of Kokatu.com wrote that the game lasted nine hours and that the downloadable content consisted purely of cosmetic add-ons. Some journalists said that the minimal impact of The Potato Sack alternative reality game on the early release of Portal 2 may be influencing the user scores.


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