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Portal Preview

publisher: EA
developer: Valve Software
genre: Shooters

ESRB rating: T

release date: Oct 10, 07
» All About Portal on ActionTrip

Seeing the true potential of their celebrated PC first-person shooter Half-Life 2, prominent development studio, Valve, decided to nab its fair share of the next-generation console market. Half-Life 2 eventually made its way to the Xbox and was largely recognized as a pretty decent port (although to the regret of many, it lacked a multiplayer component). In its effort to popularize its series even further, Valve gave the franchise an episodic form. The scheme of delivering episodic content didn't exactly go as planned, since the methodic folks at Valve like to take some time with polishing their work before it launches. On the bright side of the spectrum, the time invested in creating new episodes for Half-Life 2 was well spent. Valve is now focused on packing as much content on its future projects as possible. This time around, they are preparing two Half-Life 2 bundles - The Orange Box and The Black Box. The Orange Box, coming to Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms along with the PC, will include Half-Life 2: Episode 1, HL 2: Episode 2, Portal, Team Fortress 2 and the original Half-Life 2. The Black Box, the more modest edition, will contain Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. Amongst other things, we were rather intrigued by the concept behind Portal.

Many of you may have been mislead into thinking Portal is another action-flavored component, added to the HL 2 package. The twist with this one is that it doesn't actually involve any shooting whatsoever.

The gameplay mechanics are, at first glance, exceedingly simple. In Portal players are equipped with a weapon that releases two types of portals - one used as entrance, the other as an exit. Each released portal can cling to any non-metallic surface throughout the level. Other than that, your actions will mostly be limited to picking up objects and jumping. It really does sound a bit over-simplified, but therein lies the catch. Going in and out of portals involves a variety of factors, such as gravity and, of course, considering every angle while working your way through a 3D environment. Certain objects can also be sent through portals at different speeds. So, cast aside all your FPS instincts, cause this one's all about logic and thinking on your feet. Normally, as you progress, puzzles will become increasingly difficult, until you've reached the really tough ones - according to the developers, some of these complex puzzles may take an average gamer about half an hour to figure out. (So less time than it takes an average gamer to figure out a job application form. Mainly because he's never seen one. - 2Lions)

Although a lot of time and effort is going into fine-tuning Episode 2, the team is also doing its best to create a game that's both fun and challenging. Making the challenge even greater, completing certain puzzles may involve a time limit or a strict number of portals that can be fired.

In any case, at this point, it's clear enough that Portal is really sort of an experimental move on Valve's part. The talented development team admitted that Portal is going to consist of 19 levels, which won't amount up to more than 4 hours of gameplay. Nonetheless, Portal will feature a level editor, which will be issued soon after the game's release. So, offering a game (addition) with limited content isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially when we consider the potential for fan-made creations. To top it off, Valve promised to provide additional content as soon as the game comes out (naturally, via Steam).

When Half-Life 2: Episode 2 arrives, players will get a change to experience three games - Ep. 2, Portal and TF 2. That means you get to enjoy three titles for the price of one, which is a fair bargain to say the least. Half-Life 2: The Black Box edition (strictly PC) will carry a retail price of $39.99, whereas the value of The Orange Box (X360, PS3, PC) was locked at $49.99. Overall, regardless of what some of you may think about these episodic games, Valve means to deliver a praiseworthy amount of content for a single video game package.



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