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Portal 2 Day#2: Passing the Test

Day 2 of Portal 2 has the single player game making some interesting twists. The narrative is moving in a quite funny and consistent way and the game remains great visually. It also takes a quite interesting story turn. I do wish the puzzles were harder though.  At this point in the game, I feel like I’ve only had one puzzle that was even remotely difficulty. I’m having fun and the game is generally solid, but I’m still finding the original Portal much better. Spoilers within.

I begin this session at a new puzzle. This one is a simple aim laser through portals to raise a platform to  the door. Glados is talking full steam now, and it’s very much the rhythm of the original game, only meaner. I exit, and next level has a new kind of cube that refracts lasers. I hit myself with a laser while navigating the box, but apparently lasers don’t kill you right away. Once I get the laser aimed right, I then have to retrieve cube to unlock the door. It’s pretty simple. Glados gets a nice line here: tests say I’m a horrible person – they weren’t even testing for that. I get in the elevator for the load, and Glados continues in the next level that  it’s just a data point. The following level is a two laser test (one is aimed with cube and the other is aimed with portals) to unlock the door. Again, easy. On my way out, Glados insults my weight. The next level is another simple laser and moving platform timing puzzle which I solve on a second try.

The level that follows that involves a catapult that throws me whenever I step on it. I have to use the catapult to grab a bouncing cube out of the air, then use the cube to exit. As I enter and exit levels, there is nice background wreckage of cubes and turrets everywhere. The next puzzle is chain series of catapults which I must use to catch cubes. It takes a couple of tries but it’s not demanding. The next level has a treat:  YEAH! A COMPANION CUBE!!!! I have to use it to block a laser to get an elevator moving and then use a drop into a portal to fling me on to a button platform (placing the cube there) and then do the drop with a different portal configuration to get to the exit.  I realize I can use portals to take the companion cube with me out of the level and I do so. I get it to the elevator but Glados disintegrates it after making some comments about how intelligent the cube was. I exit. The following puzzle is another laser/refractor puzzle but this time with a blue non-portal wall. It takes a moment to figure out the refraction arrangement, but I get through quite quickly. I exit and the next puzzle has a catapult facing a cliff, but it won’t fling me.  Glados has to adjust it, and as she does, I notice that the eye is still alive in the rafters. Once the catapult is working again, I have to use a portal in ceiling to get to the top of the cliff.  I portal around in the now standard hit-the-button, get-the-crate fetching, although I die once totally accidentally when I get trapped under a laser. I get stuck on top with a laser puzzle because I’m not sure how to get up to the exit since there’s no way to portal there, but then I realize that I have to use previous catapult with a portal in the ceiling to throw me up there and I exit. I should point out that this is the only puzzle so far that has been even remotely challenging.

The next puzzle is a catapult chain where I have to use a laser (refracted, of course) to lower walls that block my jumping pass. It’s not really hard but it’s a fun step-by-step.  The next puzzle introduces a new element:  a walkway made of light that extend into any open portals. The puzzle involves using the walkways to reach the exit. Also, easy but cool, but that seems to clearly be what this game is. I reach the next puzzle, but the door to the puzzle room is jammed.  Glados goes to deal with it and when she’s “gone” the Eye appears. It tells me that it blocked the door to get rid of Glados for a second and will help me get out when it figures out how to do that. The eye leaves and it’s on to test. It’s another light bridge puzzle with a tricky part that I get right away — I have to keep a block from falling into the water while I change from one light bridge I’m standing on to another using a new portals . This is getting very redundant, so let’s just assume that every puzzle is interesting but easy and that I solve it on the very first try unless I say otherwise. The next level is the first gun turret level of this game. It’s almost tutorial that way it hits all the major things:  picking turrets up, dropping them through floor, dropping crates on them, etc. I exit to a destroyed hallway. I drop onto a series of metal corridors behind the scenes. This leads to a beautiful room of robots putting up screens. Glados tells me that yesterday was my birthday before she raises a platform I’m standing on back to the testing area.

The next puzzle forces me to have to bounce a laser between three detectors to open the door. The following level is another turret one where light bridges to block the turrets’ ability to see (and shoot) me. I die once when I drop into a set of turrets surrounding a cube I need, but when I respawn I jump between them successfully and kill them all. As I’m exiting, Glados tells me that she found two other test subjects with my name (my parents?) in the database. In the next level, I have to aim lasers at turrets to kill them and clear the level. As I leave, there’s a cute narrative moment as Glados simply hums “for he’s a jolly good fellow.”  The next puzzle is a laser and block puzzle; I have to use the block to stop a laser that causes an elevator to go up until I get on the elevator and then move a light bridge (using portals, of course) to drop it away from the laser and on to a button.I get it and get out as Glados tells me I’m going to meet the two people she mentioned in the next puzzle. I get out of the elevator to a totally dark room. After a second, the lights come on and the room is empty. That’s the surprise. Glados drops some loose pieces of confetti out of a tube in the ceiling. She says they abandoned me at birth as an explanation. On to the next puzzle, another light bounce but this time with a defended turret I can’t easy defeat. It’s a little tricky to avoid the turret and I bounce the laser around but I get it. I see the Eye in the elevator as I leave. It tells me to hang in there for five more tests before it can get me out. The next puzzle is a little complicated. It’s a momentum level where you have to get refraction cubes in the right spots to bounce a laser across level. The momentum bit involves using portals to fling myself into the air, and then shooting a portal at a new panel while airborne to fling myself where I need. I still do it quickly though and exit. The next puzzle involves aiming lasers through a portal to hit three different receivers. This one is disappointingly easy. I solve it in literally a minute and then leave.

The next level is another puzzle where I have to drop a cube that’s on a light bridge, but the lights go out before I can do anything. When they come back up, the eye is there helping me escape through wall that’s open. It takes me a beat to figure out where to go but then I run down some metal corridors behind the test areas. Glados tries to get me back into a last test but I go the other way. A light bridge disappears to drop me on to corridor below, and I run. I eventually get trapped in room with turrets. I take them out one at a time, then portal out of room through a break in the makeshift walls. I use a portal to take out another turret across the way as I run. The room starts collapsing. I get to a lift at eye’s insistence and go up to a door. After a load, the next door breaks and doesn’t fully open. I portal past it and get into a new corridor. The lights go out, but the eye shines a spotlight I can follow. I continue running and basically have to jump and portal around a factory obstacle course. At one point, I die a few times jumping as I try to climb down tube full of robot parts to a door. When I do that, I find a door into a back area of the factory. I climb across disposal conveyor belts (dying by falling once) to another platform. Along the way, the eye tells me that I have to destroy the turret robot assembly and the neurotoxin production in order to be able to defeat Glados. First is the turret line. There’s a line of turrets getting checked for defects, apparently based on a central model in a different room. I pull the sample turret from model room, but the line simply uses the model from memory and the line doesn’t stop. I’m not sure what to do next, but after only like five minutes of searching, the game (though the voice of the Eye) gives me the answer. That just sucks. I want to solve the puzzle; I never want the answer give to me like that. Yuck. Following instructions, I retrieve a faulty turret before it’s incinerated and replace the turret model with the crap one. The line now only accepts faulty one. I move on to destroy neurotoxin creator, but I take a sidetour through daycare. There’s a science fair in there with a bunch of potato plants overgrowing into the rest of the complex. I move onward and find the neurotoxin place. The generator has eight tubes coming off it into the walls around it, and the puzzle is to use some sliding panels near the tubes to portal a laser through to cut them off the wall.  I get all eight of them pretty quickly and that destroys the generator. When it goes down, I get sucked into a tube to go after Glados. I’m following the Eye through the tunnel as it’s psyching itself up for the fight. A fork in the tunnel causes me to get separated from the Eye.

The tunnel terminals dropping me in a black room with a door to Glados. There’s nothing here but the door, so I click it. It falls to the ground to reveal nothing behind it – it’s another trick from Glados and she mocks me for “falling” for it. She moves the room I’m in to dump me back in the original glass room I started Portal in, and she stands outside the room in front of me. She deploys turrets to shoot me, but they are faulty and self-destruct. She then calls the neurotoxin, but it doesn’t work; instead, the Eye is shot into the room. I get out of the glass room and have a chance to plug Wheatley (that’s what Glados calls the Eye) into the mainframe. I do so.  Wheatley and Glados battle for control to a stalemate, and a stalemate resolution button appears in another part of the level. It’s clear I have to get to it. I do so by portaling around barriers Glados puts up, and I hit the button, allowing Wheatley to take over. Wheatley opens a lift for me to escape, but before I go, he realizes that he loves the power. He starts me up the lift, but then turns on me and brings me back down, claiming that I don’t appreciate everything he did.  Glados speaks up so he ties her to a potato battery. She says he was designed to be stupid by the engineers in order to destroy her. Was he one of the heads in the first game? He throws us both down a hole, and it’s another beautiful shot as we fall.  Glados mocks me for putting stupid AI in charge, and then we land in a sub-basement. It’s been a big session, so I call it a night.

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