Wednesday, 23 June 2010

E3 2010: I'm making a note here, HUGE SUCCESS.

So e3 is gone, and after a chat with the other fine chaps here at Gainboy, we're going to do a little series of articles covering our own personal favourites from the conferences and floor shows of the biggest trade show in the US (maybe the world, but Gamescom in Germany gets bigger and better every year).

Gabe Newell suprised just about everyone this year. We all knew we would get some info on Portal 2, but I don't think anyone would have guessed he would walk out to present it as part of Sony's conference. Valve have had a history of saying that they have trouble working with Sony's hardware, due to the programming differences compared to a Windows based system they work with on both PC and Xbox360. A great suprise then, that not only are they planning to get behind the PS3's rise to glory, but they are going to do it by using their own platform, Steam, to deliver content updates and provide access to the steam community through your PS3.

Fancy stuff and unsuprising to see it happen on the PS3 first. You might think this kind of thing would work much easier on the Xbox360, and I would agree. But Microsoft are becoming legendary in their scrooge-like efforts to make everyone subscribe to their premium gold service. If this Steam idea comes to the xbox360, I would expect it to be avilable to gold subscribers only.

So a little less about the platform holders, and a bit more about what this article is about.

Delicious Cake.

The original game, Portal, was part of the Orange Box, Valve's first release on the current generation of consoles. Inside said box, were, count them.. 5 games. At £39.99 that was a bargain. Even if two or three were utter garbage it would be worth it. But Valve put into this box five absolute gems: Half-Life 2 (HL2), HL2: Episiode 1, HL2: Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. The Half-Life saga is one I have played through a 'few' times, let's say, and it remains to this day as my favourite set of first person games ever made. Team Fortress 2, is a massively popular First Person team based shooter, with a rather unique style and perfectly balanced gameplay. But finally, Portal. Almost overshadowed by the other huge names of Valve's catalogue, on the outside, it looked like a nice little puzzle game to keep you entertained for a while. Upon further inspection, Portal was (and still is) a massively accomplished first person adventure, featuring some mind bending puzzles and a lovely portion of dark humour.

So Portal 2 is coming, but what does it have to offer us? From the interviews and the developer walkthroughs show at e3, Portal 2's story is set up to be twice as long as the original (which is good news, as the first took me about an hour 1/2 to complete first time), but not only that, it has a completely separate co-op story, which is again twice the length of Portal1. So that's four times as much portal goodness. In addition to more length, the Arpeture test facility has developed a few new things to test you with.

The first major ones were are shown are the 'Excursion Funnel', a kind of tractor beam that you can send through portals and use as a lift to carry you across gaps or up to high areas, the 'Faith Plate', which are essentially bounce pads that throw you up in the air, and the 'Thermal Discouragement Beam', a high powered laser that you can direct with new weighted cubes that have mirrors inside them. The really interesting ones however, are the introduction of two new 'gels', "Repulsion Gel", which changes the surface to bounce you off it, allowing you to jump much higher, or even off walls, and "Propulsion Gel", which increases your movement speed as you move across it. The effect these two gels have on the scope of puzzles that can be created is huge, possibly allowing for intricate and massive chambers.

Using Propulsion gel to squeeze through some spiked pneumatic walls.

So all in all, I have to say, Portal 2 is looking like a standout game, with a massively fleshed out single and multiplayer game, new ideas and new characters. Will GLaDOS and Chell really put their differences behind them for science, or will Chell remain a monster and kill her again? Will there be cake? Will there be another song for the credits? Time, and Valve, hold the answers.

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