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October 10, 2007
ESRB: T (Teen)
- "Now you're thinking with portals."
- ―GLaDOS during the Portal trailer
Portal is a single-player first-person shooter puzzle game developed and published by Valve Corporation. The game was released in a bundle package known as The Orange Box for PC and Xbox 360 on October 9, 2007, and for the PlayStation 3 on December 11, 2007. The Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X versions of the game are also available for download separately through Valve's online delivery platform Steam and was released as a standalone retail product on April 9, 2008. The game consists of a series of puzzles which must be solved by teleporting the player's character and other simple objects using the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. The goal of each chamber is to reach an exit point, represented by a circular elevator. The "portal gun" and the unusual physics it creates are the emphasis of this game.
The plot of Portal is revealed to the player via audio messages from GLaDOS and side rooms found in the later levels. The game begins with protagonist Chell waking up from a stasis bed and getting instructions and warnings from GLaDOS about the upcoming test chamber experience. This part of the game involves distinct test chambers that the player has to complete to go on to the next test chamber. Chell is promised cake and grief counseling as her reward if she completes all the test chambers.
Chell proceeds into the Enrichment Center, interacting only with GLaDOS over the course of the game. GLaDOS' actions and speech suggest insincerity and callous disregard for the safety and well-being of the test subjects. The test chambers become increasingly dangerous and harder throughout the game as Chell proceeds by following the main character. GLaDOS also directs Chell through a live-fire course she claims is designed for military androids as a result of "mandatory scheduled maintenance" in the regular test chamber (though as noted before, GLaDOS may not necessarily be truthful in anything she says). In another chamber, GLaDOS boasts about the Weighted Companion Cube, a waist-high crate with a single large pink heart on each face, for helping Chell to complete the chamber. However, GLaDOS then declares at the end of the test chamber that it "unfortunately must be euthanized" in an "emergency intelligence incinerator" before Chell can continue to the next test chamber.
After Chell completes the final test chamber, GLaDOS congratulates her. Chell begins heading into a pit of fire as GLaDOS assures her that "all Aperture technologies remain safely operational up to 4,000 degrees kelvin." However, Chell escapes with the use of the hand held portal device and makes her way through the maintenance areas within the Enrichment Center. GLaDOS becomes panicked and insists that she was only pretending to kill Chell, as part of testing and to come back to where she was. GLaDOS then asks Chell to assume the "party escort submission position", lying face-first on the ground, so that a "party escort robot" can take her to her reward. Chell, thinking that GLaDOS is trying to trick her into a vulnerable position, continues forward. Throughout this section, GLaDOS still sends messages to Chell to come back again and it becomes clear that she has become corrupt (or rather, was all along) and may have killed everyone else in the center.
Chell makes her way through the maintenance areas and empty office spaces behind the chambers into the piping areas, sometimes following graffiti messages which point in the right direction. The graffiti includes statements such as "the cake is a lie," making it more obvious that GLaDOS has only malevolent intents.
GLaDOS attempts to dissuade Chell with threats of physical harm and misleading statements claiming that she is going the wrong way as Chell makes her way deeper into the maintenance areas. Eventually, Chell reaches a large chamber where GLaDOS' hardware hangs overhead. GLaDOS continues to plead with Chell to turn around. During the Boss fight after a personality core falls off; Chell drops it in an incinerator. GLaDOS reveals that Chell has just destroyed the morality core, which the Aperture Science employees allegedly installed after GLaDOS flooded the enrichment center with a deadly neurotoxin, and goes on to state that now there is nothing to prevent her from doing so once again. A six-minute countdown starts as Chell incinerates more cores, while GLaDOS attempts to discourage her both verbally with a series of taunts and increasingly juvenile insults, as well as physically by firing rockets at Chell with the Rocket Sentry. After she has destroyed the final core, a portal malfunction tears the room apart and pulls everything to the surface. Chell is then seen lying outside the facility's gates amid. An update to the PC versions of Portal shows Chell being dragged away from the scene by an unseen entity speaking in a robotic voice, thanking her for assuming the party escort submission position.
The final scene, after a long and speedy zoom through the bowels of the facility, shows a mix of shelves surrounding a brown cake with one candle and the Weighted Companion Cube. The shelves contain dozens of other cores, some of which begin to light up before a robotic arm descends and extinguishes the candle on the cake. At the end credits GLaDOS (Ellen McLaine) sings a song named Still Alive, written by Jonathan Coulton.
- Party Escort Bot
- Doug Rattmann (Wall scribblings only)
- Cave Johnson (As "CJOHNSON" scribbled on a wall)
In Portal, the player controls Chell (as she is named in the game credits), a test subject in the Enrichment Center. Gameplay revolves around the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (also known as the "Portal Gun", or ASHPD, the acronym), a handheld device that can create an inter-spatial portal between flat planes, allowing instant travel and a visual and physical connection between any two different locations in 3D space. Portal ends are restricted to planar surfaces, but if the portal ends are on different planes, bizarre twists in geometry and gravity can occur, such as the player walking into the portal through a wall and "falling" up out of the floor several feet behind where she started. An important aspect is that objects retain their momentum as they pass through the portals: an object that falls some distance before entering a portal will continue moving at that same speed out of the other end. This allows the player to launch objects, including Chell, up to higher levels that lack appropriate portal surfaces. Only two portal ends may be open at a time, one orange and one blue in color. If a new portal end is created, it replaces the previous portal of the same color. Either color may be used as an entrance or exit portal. The portal gun is also used to pick up objects in a similar manner to the Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator (Half-Life 2), although it cannot propel objects or pull them from afar like the Gravity Gun can.
Guided by a supercomputer named GLaDOS (an acronym for Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, voiced by Ellen McLain), players use the portal gun to perform a variety of tests, such as creating portals to knock over turrets and moving to a previously unreachable area.
In their initial preview of Portal, GameSpot gave an example of a gameplay scenario: In other situations, the player may be under fire by a gun sentry. So all the player needs to do is shoot a portal open over the gun, then shoot a portal open beneath a crate, then watch the crate fall through the hole and crush the gun. It gets even crazier, and the diagrams shown in the trailer showed some incredibly crazy things that the player can attempt, like creating a series of Portals so that the player is constantly chasing themselves.
Two additional modes are unlocked upon completion of the main game. In Challenge mode, the player has to get through a test in either as little time, with the least number of portals, or as few footsteps as possible. In Advanced mode, the hardest levels of the game are made even harder with the addition of more obstacles and hazards.
Portal is Valve's professionally-developed spiritual successor to the freeware Narbacular Drop, the 2005 independent game released by students of the DigiPen; the original Drop team are now all employed at Valve. Certain elements, like the orange/blue system of identifying the two different portal ends a player can have open at a time (one connecting to the other), have been retained. The key difference in the signature portal mechanic between the two games is that in Narbacular Drop the player can place a portal on a wall visible through another portal, whereas in Portal, the HPD cannot fire a portal shot through a portal; however, the HPD can fire a portal shot while the player is standing in a portal.
Sequel and spin-offs
On March 5, 2010, Portal 2 was officially announced, after a series of cryptic clues were released in the form of an update to Portal. It was released on April 19, 2011.
Portal: Still Alive
Portal: Still Alive is an exclusive Xbox Live Arcade game released in October 2008, and features new levels and achievements. The additional content is drawn from levels from the map based on Portal: The Flash Version by We Create Stuff and contains no additional story-related levels. According to Valve spokesman Doug Lombardi, Valve had been in discussion with Microsoft to bring Portal to the Xbox Live Marketplace, but was limited by the amount bandwidth that Microsoft was willing to allow for such content.
Portal has had an extremely good reception from critics. As of December 31, 2007 on the review aggregator Game Rankings, the Windows version of the game had an average score of 90% based on 19 reviews. On Metacritic (as of February 2, 2009), the Windows version had an average score of 90 out of 100, based on 28 reviews, while users gave it a 9.6 out of 10 based on 1644 reviews.
- The type of cake promised to the player is a Black Forest cake.
- The Portal team worked with Half-Life series writer Marc Laidlaw on fitting the game into the series' plot. Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek of the classic gaming commentary/comedy website Old Man Murray had been hired by Valve and put to work on the dialogue for Portal.
- Portal, like other recent Valve releases, includes a commentary feature.
- The player can spawn the same NPCs, with the 'npc_create' console command, in Portal as in Half-Life 2: Episode One, because it uses Episode One as the basis for models. Note that no Episode One NPCs have sounds except the Citizen, who has a death sound.
- In the trailer for Portal there is a small clip of Vortal Combat which is from Half-Life 2: Episode Two. In return, many Portal sounds and ambience is recycled from Half-Life 2 onwards.
- The team that designed the cake at the end of the game actually saw this kind of cake at a local bakery.
- It is the second game created by Valve to not be rated Mature, the first being the original Day of Defeat.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Portal on Steam
- ↑ http://store.steampowered.com/app/400/
- ↑ Ocampo, Jason (2006-07-13). Half-Life 2: Episode Two - The Return of Team Fortress 2 and Other Surprises. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.
- ↑ Craddock, David (2007-10-03). Portal: Final Hands-on. IGN. Retrieved on 2007-10-05.
- ↑ Bramwell, Tom (2007-05-15). Portal: First Impressions. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2007-10-05.
- ↑ Francis, Tom (2007-05-09). PC Preview: Portal - PC Gamer Magazine. ComputerAndVideoGames.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-05.
- ↑ Things are heating up!. Narbacular Drop official site (2006-07-17). Retrieved on 2006-07-21.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Berghammer, Billy (2006-08-25). GC 06:Valve's Doug Lombardi Talks Half-Life 2 Happenings. Game Informer. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
- ↑ Portal Reviews (PC). Game Rankings. Retrieved on 2007-12-31.
- ↑ Portal (pc: 2007): Reviews. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2007-12-31.
- ↑ Leone, Matt (2006-09-08). Portal Preview. 1UP.com. Retrieved on 2006-09-11.