Portal 2 Guide


Posted April 18, 2011 - By Dana Leahy

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Ever find yourself in a situation where all of your friends are talking about the latest and greatest game, but you can't contribute to the conversation because you haven't been paying attention? Solve that problem with this Portal 2 Guide: everything you need to know (except the spoilers) about a game that's about to be released.

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Portal 2
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E

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What kind of game is it?

It would be shortsighted to just say, "Portal 2 is a puzzle game," because it's so much more than that; however, at its core, Portal 2 is about solving complex, cerebral puzzles by using a first-person portal gun that allows you to travel through walls.  Filled with a ton of action, and brain-aching thinking, you have to make your way around obstacles, complete tasks, and avoid other dangers while trying to get to the exit of each room. Along the way, you'll encounter mechanisms that if used correctly, will help your progress, but if used incorrectly, will sentence you to the doom of not being able to make it through the game.

Who's the Developer?

Fan-favorite Valve. Portal 2 comes from the same people who brought you Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2. The first game, Portal, was included in 2007's Orange Box as an off-shoot of the Half-Life series and takes place in the same universe. Portal was meant to be an interesting palette cleanser, but the fascinating (and entertaining) storyline and great mechanics soon made it a cult favorite, which prompted Valve to develop it into it's own highly-anticipated AAA title, Portal 2.

What's the story?

Usually when I do these Launch Guides, it's not hard to give you at least an idea of the story without giving away monster spoilers. With Portal 2, however, the story is so delicately woven into the puzzle solving, I'm finding it almost impossible to do so. Plus, different people are going to consider different things spoilers, so I'll just say things that have already been publically discussed at length: 

  • You are back again as the mute protagonist Chell.
  • You get a new robot friend named Wheatley.
  • You get to see more of the Aperture Lab and learn a bit about its history.
  • There are new puzzle mechanics like Thermal Discouragement Beams, Pneumatic Diversity Vents, and Aerial Faith Plates.
  • GLaDOS is still alive.

There, now you are not allowed to be mad or get on my hoss because I said anything I wasn't supposed to. Look, I'll just say this: if you played the first one and you liked it, then you're probably already planning on playing Portal 2. If you didn't play the original, you should DEFINITELY GO BACK AND PLAY PORTAL. Was I shouting? I'm sorry. It's just, well, I'm trying to say that we're only talking about the small matter of your individual happiness. I care about you!


New to Portal 2 is a two-player co-op mode featuring two new robots named Atlus and P-body. The robots are put through GLaDOS's new "Cooperative Testing Initiative" where chambers require teamwork to get through. That crazy bitch robot's new plan is our gain, as players will get an extended and more robust experience with an entirely separate co-op campaign that can be played split-screen or online.

Since Portal is a story-driven franchise, you should probably complete the single-player campaign before jumping into co-op, if only to avoid having the ending of the game spoiled by friends who are less courteous than I am.

What'd we say?

From Morgan Webb's Portal 2 Review:

"There are some real mind-benders. The saving grace is that the game’s visual language is impressively consistent - since you can never jump over railings you don’t waste time throwing yourself at them. If you have trouble with a specific puzzle you can rely on this visual language to search for subtle clues, like looking out for a strategically broken railing. Every pixel is there for a reason, and you never need to make an awkward jump or contort over a ledge.

You can’t cheat this game. You fortunately don’t need to waste time looking for work-arounds because there is a beautiful and elegant solution to every puzzle, one that fits into their system of rules and seems simple once you figure it out. You get a euphoric AHA! moment and you feel really, really smart. And isn’t that something we all deserve from our video games?"

See it in action:

Portal 2 vs Portal Comparison Video »

Portal 2 Guide


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