E3 2010: Portal 2 First Impressions - Blinded By Science
Written Tuesday, June 29, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
There aren’t many genuinely humorous titles these days. Sure, the veterans of the industry like Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert still possess this innate ability to keep us chuckling, but the new blood of the industry just can’t keep up with them. It’s true. Valve however are another company who possess such an ability and whilst they don’t get much chance to show off their full range of skills – there’s nothing funny about the zombie apocalypse, except maybe Coach’s singing – but that’s where Portal comes in. An interesting and totally unique concept, one that is bolstered by some clever and subtle humour that just gives it that edge that most games can’t provide.
Listen to me, I’ve rambled on enough, I guess my point is, Portal 2 is an amusing game, whether it’s the short quips from the returning GLaDOS – the intelligent AI from the original – or the musings of the British Personality Sphere, Wheatley, who you had the pleasure of meeting this morning.
I do have a purpose... and that’s to inform, and inform I shall. I could sit here all day talking about the humour in Portal 2, but you’re best off to experience it yourself. As far as the title goes though, how does one turn a relatively short arcade title into a retail title? Simple, throw in co-op and a ton of new puzzle mechanics and Portal 2 goes from a relatively simplistic puzzle game – a great one though – into a complex puzzle game. After seeing some of the new puzzle mechanics in action, I dread to think what the advanced puzzles will be like this time... So yeah, let’s get on to the meat and talk about these newly announced features – 6 of them to be precise:
As you can imagine, combining all those with one another – and of course with the Portal gun – it’s looking like we might have something next year to really challenge the old grey matter. They definitely make some of the puzzles on offer complete genius that when you first see them, you have to take a step back and ask yourself, “I wonder how long it would have taken me to work that out?”
Offering two modes: a single player that will offer around 6-8 hours worth of gameplay, as well as a co-op mode that is roughly the same length; it’s clear that Valve are looking to offer as much content as possible to make the jump from experiment to full retail title. Clearly, at 12-16 hours, if they can offer that much content to chew up that much of your time, then they’ve pretty much done the unthinkable.
The only potential issue we see is balance: how can Valve offer you a learning curve that builds up to some really complex puzzles without standing still for too long? Is it possible to stretch the experience out without making them too complex or too long-winded? Those are really the only potential issues we see, but with more gameplay mechanics to come, those concerns will probably just become a fleeting moment of hesitancy. Based on the new gameplay mechanics shown at E3 alone, to quote Wheatley the Personality Sphere, “I know we’re in danger, but this is ammmmmaaaazing.” Yes, Wheatley, it is.
Portal 2 is scheduled for a 2011 release. Look out for the E3 demonstration video coming your way this week in bits and pieces.