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e3 2010

Valve Dives Deeper Into Portal 2 Mechanics

by Meagan Marie on Jun 15, 2010 at 11:10 AM

Valve has been somewhat reclusive with any new details on the sequel to their critical darling Portal – a notable absence of any news between our April cover story and now. We just had a chance to check out a slightly extended demo, however, and have a few expanded gameplay tidbits to share.

Reiterating some of the high level goals for the game, Valve touched on how surprised the team was with the high level of emotional attachment many fans have toward the property. They also explained what Portal 2 should and shouldn’t be. The 2011 sequel should boast an interesting story and gameplay that challenges the way you think about and play games. What it shouldn’t be is more difficult by default. In short, new gameplay mechanics should keep the game fresh, not frustrating.

A new opening vignette showed off the Aperture Science facilities being rebuilt by a recently resurrected GLaDOS. Since such a large amount of time has passed between installments, organic elements such as trees and vines have infiltrated the structure and the bulk of the facility is in decay. Once awakened GLaDOS sloughs off old modular wall panels for shiny new ones, begins assembling turrets, and generally works at bringing the facility back to life. It’s in this clip that it becomes apparent how much more polished and crisp the presentation looks, even if it is a pre-rendered scene. Here we also got a brief glimpse behind the scenes at some abandoned living quarters and chambers reduced to little more than empty husks.

This introduction also calls attention to the importance of music this iteration. The upbeat track has a distinct electronic flavor to it and evens seems to integrate some vocal samples of GLaDOS herself.

Moving onto prerecorded gameplay footage, we saw some of the new mechanics in action. While we explored the suite of new features in our previous coverage, we did see a few new practical applications. The tractor beams is highlighted first, and the demo shows how they can be redirected in quick succession to take out turrets or transport objects.

Aerial Faith Plates are up to bat next, and the demo shows four placed in specific spots in order to vault the player from one to the other without stopping or slowing down. Next we see the Thermal Discouragement Beam (see: laser) which the player redirects to take out a room full of oblivious turrets before aiming it at a receptacle to access an exit. The Pneumatic Diversity Vents showcase the physics transferring through Portals, using extreme suction to create a vortex of unaware turrets.

Lastly, Valve showed off the two types of gels (previously called “paint") announced so far. The Repulsion Gel bounces players from surface to surface and we saw its practical application by painting the floor and wall on the fly in order to reach an area tucked away high above. The Propulsion Gel – an orange substance – rocketed Chell to high speeds in order to avoid a length of spiked metal plates crashing together.

Our demo ended with a reminder that Portal 2 was recently delayed and will now ship next year in an undisclosed window of time. Another new tidbit of news? As just announced at the Sony press conference that Portal 2 will be releasing for the Xbox 360, PC, Mac, and the PlayStation 3. Good news for Sony fans, without a doubt.