News: Portal Portal Portal!

Chell & GLaDOSSo you are Oliver Motok and have been living underneath your Call of Duty rock for the better part of a year. You have not heard anything about Portal 2. Well lucky for you, the rest of the news this week was garbage, so here is every possible detail you could ever want about the highly-anticipated sequel!

The first and most critical piece of information regarding any video game is the release date, which is this upcoming Tuesday the 19th. Or is it? On Thursday, Valve’s Portal website displayed a countdown timer that was set do go off Friday at noon, sending the community into a frenzy, believing the game would be released sooner. When that time was reached, Valve revealed what may be the most amusing marketing plan ever: play the Potato Sack in order to get Portal 2 released early. Many gamers cried foul, saying that Valve was just money hungry, but lets look at the facts here. First off, Portal 2 is still most definitely coming out on Tuesday, regardless of whether or not you buy the Potato Sack. Second off, if you do purchase this fine indie gaming pack and play your heart out, you have occupied your Portal-less time with something that will help Portal 2 release faster. And finally, even if you do not buy it, enough other people buying and playing it will potentially cause the game to be released earlier, not only to them, but to you as well. In fact, Valve’s marketing strategy with this was quite ingenious, and with offerings like Audiosurf and Super Meat Boy, why not contribute and possibly get Portal 2 sooner?Portal 2 Puzzle

So now you are wondering about the game itself. What’s so great about it that I should want it early if at all? How does it compare to the first Portal? As the trailers indicated, the player wakes up in the Aperture Science Laboratories, now overgrown and filled with wildlife from years of neglect since Chell’s destruction of GLaDOS. Our brunette heroine meets Wheatley, a charming personality sphere that happens to be an idiot and accidentally reboots GLaDOS. You broke her heart and killed her then threw every piece into a fire, she is definitely angry and was lying about that whole sincerity thing. Our favorite malevolent AI throws Chell back into the testing chambers to decipher a whole new series of puzzles, which the developers say should take approximately two to three times as long to complete as the original Portal.

Bouncy TurretsWhat’s so great about these new puzzles? While we will still have the Portal gun and the Pneumatic Diversity Vents (the tubes) from the first game, several new additions have been made. First are the gels: the orange propulsion gel and the blue repulsion gel. The orange repulsion gel will make the floors extremely slick and thus can be used by Chell as a slip-and-slide to move significantly faster than normal. The blue gel will make whatever it covers extremely springy; this can be used either to make the floor bouncy for Chell’s use, or can be used to disable enemy turrets by turning them into adorable bouncy balls. On the thought of flying through the air, another introduction is the Aerial Faith Plate. This acts as a sort of directional trampoline, tossing Chell, turrets, or cubes in a specified direction. But what if you would rather travel in a lazier way? For that, there is the Excursion Funnel, which acts like a tractor beam to either move Chell or objects over large distances or even to move upwards. The final puzzle addition is the Thermal Discouragement Beams and the glass cubes used with them; the beam itself is a laser which can hurt the player, but can also be used to hurt turrets or to unlock certain area puzzles.Atlus and P-Body

Well that’s all fine and good, but what about this multi-platform nonsense? Portal was available on the Orange Box, and Portal 2 will also be available on the PC, XBox 360, and PlayStation 3. If you purchase the PS3 version, not only will you get a free PC or Mac version as well, but both versions have Steam accessibility. One downside to the PS3 version is the requirement that users update their firmware to version 3.60, so if you are a dirty, dirty hacker, you are out of luck. In addition to multi-platform, Portal 2 is also featuring a multi-player option where you and a friend will play a five- to six-hour co-op mode as Atlas and P-Body, two robots who look similar to the personality spheres and the turrets respectively. This co-op mode can only be played split-screen on the 360, but the PS3 and PC/Mac buyers have the option of playing split-screen or one player on the PS3 and another on the computer.

Rat Man ScribblesBut what about the cake?! Is the cake still a lie?! We do not know. Developers have previously said that the cake is not going to be part of Portal 2, but they also say they will not spoil anything. One quirk we will have from the previous game is the introduction of the Rat Man. The scribblings on the walls in the darker corners of the game? Those were the work of the Rat Man, and we will be seeing a lot more of his scribbles in Portal 2. They initially will serve as a refresher on how to play, but we do not know the purpose of his graffiti beyond that.

So my dearest Lusi-losers, that is everything you could possibly want to know about Portal 2. Now buy it, do it now! Portal 2 can be purchased at GameStop, through Steam, or in an interesting twist, on Amazon for a reduced price of $34.99. It will definitely be available on Tuesday, or if you buy the Potato Sack and play some fun indie games, we may get it sooner. Welcome back, GLaDOS! FOR SCIENCE!


  1. I really want the pin, and I really want the game, but I don’t have the money. Booooo~~~

    Oh well, it will come down in price, and they may even give it away for free eventually. Patience is a virtue, I s’pose!

  2. This release really snuck up on me. I’m not sure yet which version I’ll get.

  3. Are the TF2 pins locked to the account of the Portal 2 player?

  4. This is the first game in a couple of months now that I’m genuinely excited for, and it’s ALMOST HERE! I can’t wait!

    @SN: yeah, I believe the TF2 items just unlock on the Steam account of whoever owns Portal 2, same as all the other TF2 promo items

  5. I think the Potato Sack is a bit… I dunno, underhanded? I mean, sure, the game is coming out anyway, but it does seem more than a little opportunistic for a bunch of totally unrelated titles, some of which are not very good, to be used to capitalise on the release of Portal 2.

    I mean, I know it is profit-grabbing pure and simple, and that is what companies do, but I’d prefer it if there were some clear and tangible connexion between the things, you know?

  6. I don’t feel it’s underhanded at all. Unrelated, certainly, but I don’t see a difference between this and any of the multiple TF2-item promotions they’ve done in that regard. And anyway, marketing tie-ins (and I certainly won’t deny that’s what this is) are hardly ever related. I mean what does World of Warcraft have to do with Mountain Dew, FFXIII have to do with the NBA All Star game, or Monopoly have to do with McDonalds?

    In either case, like Jenifer said, it’s not like you’re impacted negatively by not buying the potato sack stuff. In the absolute worst case scenario, the release schedule’s unchanged from a week ago (and unaltered for me regardless, since I’m getting the PS3 version). I mean if you feel it’s underhanded, of course that’s your right, but personally I don’t mind a little cross-promotional diversion.

  7. I think what irks me a bit is that this is something which:

    1) Skews the release of only one particular version of the game. So it isn’t particularly fair.
    2) Encourages people to buy the potato sack by using an entirely unrelated game’s release date as the leverage, as if that release date isn’t something arbitrary that the publisher could set whenever they want in any case.

    I dunno. Something about it just rubs me a little bit the wrong way. I wonder why everyone is so thankful to Valve for being so awesome about allowing PC users to maybe play the game a few hours early if enough people shell out money to play other games–when that release date is set, arbitrarily, by Valve to begin with, and could just as easily be moved to yesterday, or back to tomorrow, without requiring the input of a single gamer.

    I’m all for praising companies for doing things that require effort and provide tangible benefits, but at the same time, I’m not about to jump up and down thanking Valve for doing something that is entirely arbitrary and effortless, but which is being proffered as some sort of magnanimous gift, like Father Christmas bearing presents.

  8. I’m certainly not thanking them (like I said, it doesn’t effect me one way or the other), I just don’t see how it’s a bad thing. Yes, the release date is arbitrarily set by the publisher and all, but I don’t see how possibly moving the date up is in any way a negative. Like I said, in the absolute worst case, it’ll release exactly when they said it would (which, for Valve, is a feat in and of itself :D). I mean you’re right, they could just as easily release Portal RIGHT NOW by hardly lifting a finger, but I certainly don’t expect them to. I mean it seems like that’s been true since Steam started preloading games and is hardly anything new, right?

    On an semi-related note, My copy of Portal just shipped! Whoooo!

  9. I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with it (though I’m not about to sing its praises). I think it’s an effective tactic to raise awareness of a bunch of lesser known titles, and like Darth said it’s not going to have a negative impact for anyone who does not partake in the promotion. It’s also kind of nifty and innovative to allow consumers to have a small amount of influence over the game’s release date, though perhaps this function could have been implemented in a more palatable fashion.

    Next time I think I would like to see this tactic used in relation to downloading and playing Indy demos, rather than purchasing full games.

  10. It turns out that players who earned all the potatoes when playing the potato pack (?!!! Achievements?) received a free copy of the Valve Complete Pack.

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