I have seen some Portal 2 stuff at PAX. My friends, Aperture Science is back and doing more science-y things that will generally end badly for you. And by badly I mean really well. And by really well I mean really fun. And by really fun I mean…well, that’s it. It’s fun.
Lots of cool things happen at PAX. One of those cool things is seeing new footage from Portal 2. This is what I took away from that footage: Portal 2 is going to be awesome. Oh, what, you people need me to tell you that? It’s only the expanded and improved sequel to an already incredibly popular game. But no, guys, this is going to be incredibly entertaining.
Since this is about the single player story filled experience, the game started with the opening scene. This really does set the scenario you are in brilliantly. You wake up in a room that looks surprisingly and disturbingly like the hotel room I am staying at while I’m here at PAX. This is where you do the look up/down/etc. stuff, but it’s done with style. The cold, robotic voice commands you do these things, then congratulates you on completing the gymnastic portion of the exercise. Then it commands you to look at a painting , explaining that it is art. After looking at art the voice explains that you now feel mentally reinvigorated. So right out of the gate you get the feel of this game. It’s not taking much seriously. It continues when Wheatley, the robotic helper buddy voiced by Stephen Merchant, helps you out of your room, which turns out to be a shipping container from a gigantic warehouse of shipping containers. Wheatley tries to get you out of there, even going so far as to try to put a “manual override on this wall.” Which of course means smashing the damn crate into the wall until it collapses.
The humor and character really come through with this game. While the first Portal had funny stuff in it courtesy of GLaDOS and the sentries, this one is balls to the walls full of humor. You get humor from Wheatley, GLaDOS, the sentries and the new character Cave Johnson. Cave is the founder of Aperture Science, is voiced by J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man’s J. Jonah Jameson to you) and is really named Cave. This makes him awesome. He is basically taking the position of the new GLaDOS. He is the disembodied voice you hear throughout the game. Not that you won’t hear GLaDOS, mind you. It’s just that we have a new disembodied voice to add to the fun. He has fantastic moments like where he announces that he is disappointed to announce that he is cancelling the injections of praying mantis DNA, instead replacing it with a new test: fighting off an army of praying mantis men. You know, I’m sorry, but I can’t help but think of Spider-Man and Jameson during this game. It’s so wonderfully surreal.
The gameplay shown had the player using repulsion gel, a blue substance that bounces the player all over the damn room. In later levels you will have to use portal trickery to spread the gel around the place to make a bouncy super fun house. In this test, however, it was just a simple matter of bouncing up to some rooms. Hey, I’m just glad it wasn’t blue paint.
Though this demo was all about the single player, I did get to ask about the co-op portion of the game. Though it will be shorter than the main game, it will still contain around double the content of the first Portal game. It will also be quieter than the single player game, as they wanted to concentrate on the story aspects of the single player portion, while in co-op that feeling wasn’t as prevalent. In single player you are just playing as a confused woman wandering around in a derelict science lab. You need people to talk to you. People like Cave Johnson and Wheatley. In co-op, you’ve got your buddy. It was also a lot harder coming up with levels that made a good use of the possibilities of two portal guns being used at once. They didn’t just want a solution where one guy could do all the work and the other guy could just ride on his coat tails. In the co-op game, you will need two people. So just think about that for a second. The puzzles are already incredibly clever and tricky in Portal. What would these people have to do make the game harder for two minds to accomplish? Yeah, I know. Scary thought.
So that’s Portal 2 at PAX guys. It’s as clever looking as the first with the personality knob cranked up to 11. My only disappointment in the whole ordeal was that it was not playable. Look forward to it; it’s gonna be great.