We’ve already received a sneak peak at what to expect from Portal 2, in the form of the recently unveiled achievement list, but a number of story details still remain a mystery.
While Valve has already revealed that fan-favorite killer AI GLaDOS and protagonist Chell will return for the sequel, the development team has been keeping a lot of Portal 2 story-details under wraps.
Many details are still under tight wraps, but PAX visitors got an early glimpse at the opening moments of Portal 2 – including the introduction of Wheatley, the personality sphere voiced by Stephen Merchant as well as the reveal of a new character, Cave Johnson, the founder of Aperture Science voiced by J.K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films).
The new footage showcases Valve’s interest in improving story-telling in Portal 2. Sure the story in the original Portal was engaging and kept players chuckling as they were drawn farther and farther into the story – however, aside from the homicidal robot GLaDOS, there weren’t any other characters to interact with. As a result, the first game was a somewhat isolated journey about exploring and discovering the world of Aperture Science – and subsequently short on interaction with other self-aware characters.
To help immerse the player in Portal 2 - as well as add a thick does of humor (not to mention teach gamers the basic game mechanics) Valve has created Wheatley – who is one of the GLaDOS personality cores that has learned to act independently. In the opening minutes of the game, Wheatley awakens Chell from her sleep – and helps her escape the crumbling confines of her quarters. The one-sided Wheatley banter (against Valve’s traditional silent protagonist) hits the same quirky tone as GLaDOS from the first title – and helps the player get up to speed on the events between the first and second game.
Portal-fans who have been following the game’s development closely will probably remember hearing about Wheatley; however, Valve’s latest reveal came in the form of a disembodied introduction to Aperture Science founder and CEO, Cave Johnson. While the character was not shown on-screen, relying on PA announcements, his presence is almost larger-than-life – with a number of hilarious one-liners that hint at much larger, and infinitely more bizarre, experiments (than just portal guns) at Aperture Science. I won’t spoil them here but, for the record, one topic may or may not involve praying mantis/human hybrids.
Stay tuned for a full interview with the Valve writers – regarding their approach to developing characters, story, as well as blending the worlds of Portal and Half Life.
Portal 2 will be opened, I mean released, for Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and Mac on April 20, 2011.