Valve Software’s Portal 2, one of the most-anticipated games of 2011, is now available for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. Eager fans can purchase the game in-store for all three platforms; PC and Mac gamers can also download the full game directly from Steam.
To the uninitiated, Portal 2 looks like a first-person shooter in the same vein as Call of Duty or Halo. But anyone familiar with the original Portal, which launched in 2007, knows that the joke-filled game is more like an elaborate, story-themed puzzle than a shoot-em-up.
As with the original, the basic goal of Portal 2 is to figure out the way through the abandoned Aperture Science testing labs with the use of a portal gun, which allows the player to teleport long distances within the game’s environment. To successfully beat the game, players must solve a series of mostly physics-based puzzles.
Portal 2 sees the reboot of GlaDOS, an omnipresent, inventive and murderous super-computer, with a female voice, who once again puts the player through a series of tests in order to escape. (GlaDOS was supposedly killed at the end of Portal. Not so, apparently…)
Among the most unique features of Portal 2 is the game’s genuinely hilarious writing, which carries on from the first game. This time around, GlaDOS comes loaded with a dose of sarcasm in place of the anger “she” spewed in the original. Portal 2 also has a new, friendlier computer character, Wheatley, whose voice is supplied by Stephen Merchan, co-creator of “The Office.”
Prior to the release of the game, Valve pulled off an extremely complex marketing stunt in the form of an “alternate reality game” (ARG). The so-called “Portal ARG” involved hidden clues embedded in the pre-Portal 2 “Potato Sack” game pack, YouTube videos, podcasts and game forums. The ARG culminated in a countdown on the Aperture Science website with a promise that gamers could “help release Portal 2 early” if enough people payed the Potato Sack indie games.
Alas, the early release claims were untrue, and the ploy upset a swath of fans. But it did create supreme buzz for the game, and it appears to not have affected enthusiasm surrounding today’s launch.
The console version of Portal 2 has a retail price of $54.99 while the downloadable version costs slightly less at $49.99. Steam also offers a package price of $89.98 for two copies of the game — one for you and one for a friend — and the Potato Sack + Portal 2 package for the discounted price of $83.71.