Portal 2 is getting set to meet our machines in just a few weeks time. The beauty of Portal is that was unique game, and with the sequel that hasn’t changed. Excitingly we got hands on with Valve’s latest masterpiece during EA’s Spring Showcase on Wednesday, and just to add a cherry on top, we also sat down to have a chat with writer Chet Faliszek afterwards.
The first thing you will notice about Portal 2 is that it’s a lot more polished than the first game, which is no doubt down to the fact that there’s a much bigger team working on the series this time around. Starting off with the story, Portal 2 sees you return to the Aperture labs in which you will be familiar with should you have played the previous game, albeit, now they are on a much grander scale. Portal 2 does take part at least 11 years after the original, so there is probably a lot of catching up to do on the story, although according to Chet a new comic, released today, has been specifically created with this purpose in mind.
Portal 2 starts off with Chell waking up in a strange room, before falling unconscious, waking up again and meeting up with a new character in the shape of Wheatley, a personality sphere who helps guide you through the first part of the game. Eventually both characters wander into Aperture Labs and accidentally wake a dormant GLaDOS. Your nemesis, GLaDOS is understandably miffed off about the whole becoming dormant affair and decides to accuse Chell of murdering her, so in retaliation she rebuilds the ruined facility, and puts Chell under more tests.
So what is different about Portal 2 from a gameplay perspective? Well according to Chez quite a lot actually, although understandably he didn’t want to give the game away too much.
“We’ve added a lot more elements, in Portal we had a very small team but we were constrained in so many things we could do, for example in Portal Labs were moving around almost statically, however in Portal 2 you can actually see the Labs recreate before your eyes and reconfigure themselves.”
We were curious if there was any changes to the gameplay itself, for example, do players have different portals to fire now, rather than just being limited to two? “No,” explained Chet. “We wanted to keep the mechanics as close to the original as possible, but like I say, there are plenty of other surprises in store.”
Apart from the obvious inclusion of a single player mode, Valve also has a brand new co-op mode, which is actually designed separately from the main campaign as Chet explains, “the co-op in Portal 2 sees you work together. You pick up after Portal 2 and you meet up with Glados who has a mission she wants you to do. During the missions both players have their own portal guns, therefore instead of being able to create two portals you now create four, meaning you have to work closely and combine these together to solve puzzles.”
Unfortunately we were unable to test the co-op mode and therefore can’t comment much on this, however having seen it in action we think this could be a major draw for players, especially since it’ll be crucial to work together to progress.
Finally, we asked Chet if there was any major differences between any of the platforms, “not all all”, he replied, although he did point out that the PS3 version “will be updated more often,” because it has Steam Works included as part of the package. This made us wonder if people with the PS3 version may struggle to understand how to get online if they don’t have a Steam account, however Chet calmed those fears, “with the PS3 side you do need to go through Steam to play online, however if you don’t have a Steam account it’s really easy to set up, just simply say yes and the game does the rest.”
As for the future of the game once it’s released? Well Chet tells us that “DLC is in the works,” although this won’t be announced until after the games release.
Portal 2 is available on PS3, Xbox 360, PC and Mac from Friday 22nd April. We recommend you pre-order it now because it looks pretty special to us.