In most co-operative games, players don’t work together so much as work beside one another. The closest you’ll get to real teamwork is pulling the trigger at the same time. Portal 2 doesn’t work that way. Its co-op problems are impossible without a friend, and each reality-twisting solution forces you to share a brain.
My brain is neurotic, and though he hopefully never noticed, playing with Tom was competitive, too. Every time he worked out the solution first, it stung. Every time my suggested solution turned out to be wrong, I was convinced he thought I was an idiot. The problem is that you’re never just wrong in Portal 2, your idea is stupid, deadly and physically impossible.
Thank god it’s also funny. In singleplayer, Portal 2 is a finely scripted sitcom starring a woman, a robot and a potato. In co-op, it’s a slapstick buddy comedy, with both players as comic foil and GLaDOS as your straight man. When either of us would screw up, Tom and I wouldn’t yell or criticise one another – we left that to Owen and Tim, who were playing at the same time. Instead, we’d laugh, sometimes make P-Body and Atlas high-five, and leave my brain to find reasons to be paranoid on its own.
Having a friend along cancels out all the loneliness you feel in Portal 2's singleplayer. It's a deliberate part of that experience that Chell is isolated amidst the world of test chambers, but it's not always a relaxing way to spend a few hours in the way the co-operative mode can be. Once you've completed both, you're also far more likely to return to the co-op mode a second time than you are the singleplayer. Even knowing the solutions while playing with someone who is on their first run through is fun, as you get to step back and play shepherd to someone else's enjoyment.
As much as acting out the solution is kinetic and wonderful, it was the thought process I enjoyed most. Tom and I would walk in to a new challenge and think: “Um, wait, how do we do this?” We’d both stand still, playing the level through in our mind, once, twice, wait, I’ve got it! If I place a portal here – foont! – and then another here – pshoon! – then I can cover that floor with slime. Then, if I place two new portals at either end – foont! pshoon! – and now you run between them. Woosh. Woosh, woosh, wooshwooshwooshwoosh. And now I place the exit portal here – pshoon! – which will – Wheeeeeeee!
Read our Portal 2 review for more.
Highly Recommended: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Fifa 12.
Once upon a time on 4Chan, a lengthy thread was started in which posters would construct an email to Gabe Newell, one word at a time. The result was complete gibberish. You can read it here. Suriprisingly, Newell apparently replied to the email with this message.
"I don't suppose it would ease your wrath if I told you we're announcing all of your favourite things at E3 2012?"
Then, a follow up message, posted on Reddit. "I can see how the wording caused some confusion there. Yes, we are announcing something with a three in it."
THREE MUSKETEERS CONFIRMED. The emails may be fake, of course, but Valve have been in a playful mood recently. There was that employee who turned up to a local game developer conference in a Half Life 3 tee. With the release of a code-filled teaser trailer over the weekend, and the appearance of the @Doug_Rattman Twitter feed, one thing is certain. Valve have started another ARG.
Item One: In which Wheatley rants against a background full of probable clues
The video above, hosted on GameTrailers, was shown as part of an awards ceremony over the weekend. In the background there are plenty of streaming numbers, barcodes and visual artefacts that are just bound to contain hidden messages.
Item The Second: In which Doug Rattman rants on the Twitters
After lying dormant for months, Doug_Rattman has burst into life with the words "It βegins."
Then he starts tweeting long series of numbers in a similar format to the ones strobing alongside Wheatley in the above trailer, things like: "AV - 10.0 | 8.2 | 12.6 | 15.2 | 7.8 | 0.2 | 17.9 | 6.9 | 21.1 | 3.7 | 21.2 | 20.4 | 10.7 - Connection Lost"
Oh god. Here we go again. Could it have something to do with an upcoming Steam sale, could it all be leading toward a Half Life 3 reveal?
Glados has escaped the confines of the Aperture Science testing facility, and has decided to spend a bit of time tormenting tower defence gamers instead. You Monster, the new expansion for Defense Grid, will add eight new maps and 35 challange missions, in which Glados will challenge you to hold back another alien invasion, noting your progress all the while and designing new tests for you to complete. The DLC is set to come out on Steam on December 7. Check out the Defense Grid site for more info.
Do you hear that faint wailing in the background? That's the sound of a thousand bank accounts going "noooo!" at the appearance of the Autumn Steam Sale. Thankfully for our wallets, it only lasts until Sunday, with dozens of new deals every day. Consider it a warm up for the monolithic Steam Christmas sale next month.
The sale kicked off yesterday, but you've still got six hours to grab some of the fantastic day one deals. The marvellous Orcs Must Die is just £2.99 / $3.74 (we gave it a score of 90 in our Orcs Must Die review). Portal 2 is selling for just £6.79 / $10.19. If you haven't played Mass Effect yet, the first game is £2.49 / $4.99, and Mass Effect 2 is 75% off at £4.99 / $12.49.
If you're more partial to an arcade explodathon starring Gordon Freeman, Renegade Ops is £4.99 / $7.49 (or you can grab a four pack for £9.99 / $14.99). All of Dejobaan's games are also on sale as well, including AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome.
These games are also on sale for the next few hours:
Call of Duty: Black Ops Duke Nukem Forever Test Drive Unlimited 2 Risen Sam & Max series Men of War series Oddworld series
These deals will switch out in 5 hours and 42 minutes from the time of writing. Keep an eye on the Steam front page for the next set of deals then.
Oh. Oh my. The new Portal 2 puzzle creator looks quite manageable - even for those of us who aren't sentient AIs gone genocidally mad. I mean, I'm sure we've all wanted to murder every squishy, inferior lifeform around us through a series of devious (and oftentimes hilarious) tests at some point in our lives, but it just sounded so... hard. Well, no more! Check out two new screens for proof. Also, after I've single-handedly turned the world into a series of horrific death puzzles, someone at Valve's probably getting spared for this one:
"We're also building a community site to host all of these player-created puzzles. The site will allow players to quickly find new puzzles and add them to their game, ready to play, with a single click. Players will then be able to rate the puzzles they've played, leave comments for puzzle creators, and follow creators they like."
So it was sort-of-rumored, so shall it be. Valve's officially announced the second dollop of Portal 2 DLC (via Joystiq), and it includes "an easy-to-use in-game map editor that will let users design, build and share their own single-player and co-op test chambers with the community." It's coming out early next year.
Beyond that, the only tidbit Valve's allowing to seep out - in much the same way one would utilize a deadly neurotoxin - is a vague mention of voting for your favorite levels. Community features, then, are probably a no-brainer - which is roughly the state one would find themselves in after being exposed to a deadly neurotoxin.
What about a GLaDOS-powered "spellcheck," though? Valve's said nothing, but fingers crossed, obviously. As a rule, Valve's notoriously tight-lipped, but I've asked for more details just in case.
Whoa. When did PC gaming become so damn... award-winning?
PC has cleaned up at the Golden Joystick awards with a wealth of exclusives. And the non PC exclusive games that took an award? We get to play most of those too, only more anti aliased, and in a better resolution.
The best bit? Gamers voted for these. Real-life gamers with strong opinons. A record-breaking 2.06 million of them in fact. Well done PC gaming community - you rose to the challenge and pwned.
Click through for the full results. Don't agree with some of the winners? It's time for a furious debate. See you in the comments.
PC dominated the Best Strategy category: Starcraft 2 took the number one spot, followed by Civilisation V and Shogun 2: Total War. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was awarded Best Action game and Fallout: New Vegas took Best RPG.
World of Warcraft took Best Subscription MMO, beating Rift and Eve Online. One of PC Gamer's faves - Minecraft - was awarded Best Downloadable Game. We'll have Notch's acceptance speech on the site as soon as possible.
League of Legends scooped Best Free-To-Play Game - considering the numbers and constant updates, it's hard to disagree.
Portal 2 took Ultimate Game of the Year at the prestigious ceremony. Seeing as we have the ultimate version of Portal 2, we'll take that as ANOTHER win for PC gaming.
Skyrim took the One To Watch award. We've been keeping a close eye on that one. And yes, it is indeed one to watch.
Best Action Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Runner Up Portal 2 Third place L.A. Noire
Best Mobile Angry Birds Rio Runner up Fruit Ninja Third place Infinity Blade
Best RPG Fallout New Vegas Runner up The Witcher 2: Assassin's Of Kings Third Place Dragon Age II
Best subscription MMO Winner World of Warcraft Runner up Rift Third place Eve Online
Best Fighting Mortal Kombat Runner up Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Third place Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition
Best Racing Gran Turismo 5 Runner up DiRT 3 Third place Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit
Best Sports FIFA 11 Runner up Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 Third place NHL 2011
Best Strategy Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Second place Civilization V Third place Total War: Shogun 2
Best Music Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock Second place Rock Band 3 Third place Child of Eden
Best Free-to-play League of Legends Second place World Of Tanks Third place RuneScape
Best Downloadable Minecraft Second place Limbo Third place Dead Nation
Best Shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops Second place Halo: Reach Third place Crysis 2
One to Watch The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Second place Battlefield 3 Third place Guild Wars 2
Innovation of the Year Nintendo 3DS
Outstanding Contribution Sonic The Hedgehog
Ultimate Game of the Year Portal 2 Second place Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Third place Call of Duty: Black Ops
Portal's been begging for its own level-creation tool since GLaDOS first began turning frowns upside-down - physically, that is, by snapping people's necks. Fortunately, it's finally in the cards - with a pretty awesome twist, to boot.
According to an update to journalist Geoff Keighley's "The Final Hours of Portal 2" app (via Kotaku), Valve's currently putting together a "a Photoshop for test chambers" that'll allow players to create and access content without ever having to leave the game. And who will be presiding over your devious machinations? Why, the nigh-immortal master of tests herself, GLaDOS.
"The writers are even discussing the idea of adding a personality to the editor," explained Keighley. "magine what it would be like to have GLaDOS berate you every time you spell something incorrectly in Microsoft Word and you'll have a sense of where this can go."
As reported on Gamasutra, a bunch of Valve's writers have been taking part in a roundtable question and answer session at GDC Online.
Read on for some insight from some of the most talented writers in the industry.
Valve might be famous for its use of silent protagonists but according to Mark Laidlaw, one of the writers at Valve, it can be a restrictive on a studio's creativity: "Now that some of Valve's most popular protagonists are silent, there’s no turning back. “At this point we’re fully committed to it and taking it as far as it possibly could go.”
Eric Wolpaw, another writer at Valve, also provided some insight. Referring to Valve's hugely successful free to play game, TF2, he said: “that whole game is us desperately trying to keep our jobs."
“Comedy stuff is tougher because it’s more subjective and it’s really hard to gauge peoples’ reaction," he said. Wolpaw added that sometimes it’s a bit depressing, when people playtest a part in a game that’s supposed to be funny, and there's little reaction. “Pretty much no one that played Portal 2 cracked a smile, but testers still said the game was funny... It’s hard to tell if a joke is failing or not.”
Laidlaw was equally humble when referring to his own work: “We fail all the time, we just don’t advertise it too much...we always want to feel like we’re on the edge and challenging ourselves and growing all the time.”
What's your favourite example of writing in games? Let us know in the comments.
If you notice Portal 2 updating today, don't be alarmed: it's only because you're getting the new Portal 2: Peer Review DLC for free. If you don't have a copy of Portal 2 to update, Valve have that covered as well: it's on sale for 50% off through the 6th.
Peer Review adds a new multiplayer test track for robo-buddies P-body and Atlas, and features a single-player and co-op Challenge mode.