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Portal 2 Day#3: The Roots of Science

Day 3 of Portal 2 changes up the narrative significantly. It’s pretty good, although there’s a revelation that I’m not sure about yet. The gameplay improves significantly with some new elements and there are some interesting puzzles now. It’s still not as difficult as I want, and the fact that these levels are significantly better just makes the earlier, more traditional levels feel perfunctory. It’s still good enough for me to continue and finish, but I feel very confident now that Portal 1 is untouchable in its brilliance. Spoilers within.

I begin back in the subbasement, watching the Glados potato get carried away by a bird. I portal around these broken down construction like spaces, portaling past fences and such. I eventually start heading towards a condemned testing area. There are lots of walls in the way where I have to find the portal-able section to be able to keep jumping around the space. It’s a little too hunt for the pixel like for me. I enter the testing area through a long metal walkway, and pull a lever to unlock a gate and turn on the lights. There’s a huge locked vault door in front of me. There’s a button in a room on either side of the vault door, and I have to use portals to hit the two buttons in close sequence to open it. I do so and once through the door, I find a metal walkway against a wall beside a HUGE lake of water. I portal my way into an otherwise blocked hallway and pull another lever to enter a large wood-paneled room. A voice over an intercom welcomes us gentlemen to Aperture Science,  inviting us to take part in some testing as the heroes (astronauts, soldiers) we are. He also reveals he’s the guy in charge, named Cave Johnson,  and his assistant is Caroline (she’s married to science). To get out of this area,  I have to use portals to create momentum with a drop and throw myself over to an exit. Cave tells me that thousands of experiments go on here all the time. He goes on to say that there’s a gel of some kind to be tested on the blue line. (The yellow line leads to the mantis men created by a failed experiment with mantis DNA.) This space is a foyer with a waiting area for test subjects. It’s a neglected space with nicely rendered fifties posh. I exit back outside and walk across metal walkway and go up to a lift. I die once trying to portal up to another area, but then figure out that I have to drop a portal at the bottom of lift’s shaft and then the second portal on a high slanted panel, and then jump down the shaft to fling myself across the lake to the exit.

Once I land, I enter a room with a large container in the middle and a control room off to the left. I go into the control room and pull a gel lever, then portal up to an exit. I enter a new huge room. I walk from a metal walkway high off ground down a pipe to a metal tower. Cave says all Aperture Science is done from scratch. I see a shimmery blue membrane in front of center of a tower. Oh, it’s the standard matter deletion field at the end of a testing level. I go past it and it’s an elevator up. I load into a new set of tests for some repulsion gel. Entering the test, I see a pool of blue goo that acts like a trampoline. I can hit B to stop the bounce, and A to start it again. The bounce height is based on the initial drop on to the gel. This puzzle is a get a block to a button one. I then have to navigate to the next level, a timing drop on to moving platform puzzle. I get the cube and place it on a button; that opens panel that allows me to bounce into next room. When blue gel is on two parallel walls they will bounce you between them (a way to move without touching the ground). I have to use this technique to get a new cube at the end of a hallway with a big hole in it.  Once I have the cube, I put it on a second button which opens a final panel that allows me to bounce out. Cave says not to get coated in the gel as they don’t know what it does.

I come out on to a new platform over deadly water. I have to walk along some narrow fallen pillars to traverse the space to the next puzzle. That puzzle needs me to portal around some of the blue gunk (which is falling from a pipe on to the ground) to different places where I need to bounce. It’s a little tricky but I get it once I realize exactly how to manage the gel so I can make some big drops to get big jumps. The next puzzle has a water drip falling from ceiling on a spot I need to get gel on. The water removes the gel. It takes me a while to solve this one only because I don’t notice a button right away that turns the water off for a period of time. Once I know that,  it’s easy to get out. Cave tells me that there may be time travel in the next puzzle. In that level, I use a portal to throw dropping gel on to walls and then use walls and drop momentum to bounce out of the room. Once outside, I have to use a portal to get the gel from that last room outside so that I can bounce up to where I need to be. I’m not sure where I’m trying to get to here, but given the layout of the platforms and slanted faces of this level, I clearly need to go up. I finally get to a walkway high up with a big jump. I then portal my way up to metal corridors going further up. Cave chastises me for taking my time in corridors but likes my adventurous spirit. In the next puzzle, I have to use the repulse gel (portal-ed from its pipe) to break a cube out of glass cage. (When the cube is covered in blue gel, it bounces around randomly.) I then use a water source to clean it off so it can sit on a button. A button lowers a lift that I then have to use gel to jump to reach. Once I’m on the lift, I then portal the gel so that it drops back on cube in order to get the cube off the button and to get lift back up. That takes me to the elevator, and I exit as Cave fires someone by intercom.

I load into a new lobby area, and Cave tells me that I’ve finished the tests. I portal up to a new area and enter a pump room with some giant gel containers. This is a slightly tricky momentum challenge where I have to get to a control room by timing the firing of a portal while falling from a great height, due to a careful placed barrier that keeps me from shooting a portal where I need it until I’m in the air. Once in the control room, I activate the pump for the gel and exit the room to the wreckage outside. I come upon a new waiting area. Cave introduces me to the tests again although this time he assumes I’m a homeless test subject. I’m not sure where to go now, so I fling myself across the level for no good reason.  Oh I guess I died from that – the screen just went dark. Ok, do it again and this time it seems to work until I realize that I just threw myself back to the lobby area again. So weird. I try flinging myself  from some slanted walls and end up in the right place this time. As I enter a new room, I  hear Glados again.  She asks me to help her get rid of the bird, as I’m a murderer after all.  I do this automatically by entering the room she’s in. She says that Wheatley is going to cause the base to explode. If I help her stop this, all is forgiven. Yeah, right. She explains that I have to get her back up to the top and disconnect Wheatley and replace him with her. I pick up the Glados potato which releases a button underneath her that brings a walkway up to an elevator. I have to momentum throw myself over there again. I die once and then make it to the elevator out.

We load into a new test area. Cave mentions needing test vouchers, and Glados responds as if she were Cave’s secretary. Glados then freaks out a bit. There’s an orange gel here spilling from a pipe which speeds me up when I walk over it. I use portals to get the gel on the floor by a ramp. I then use gel to run up ramp and jump over to a platform. I have to then portal the gel over to a second hallway to make a second jump. I get a  block and place it on a button in the original room making the ramp angle higher. I run up the new ramp to the exit, but the exit is still locked.  It seems that level wants me to go up a shaft here to hit a button. I have to accelerate on the orange gel and then run into a portal straight up into the air (conserving momentum) to hit the button at the top. That opens the exit. In the next level, I have both kinds of gel. I have to run and jump to a platform that’s very far away. I die a couple of times but then I figure it out: I have to use orange gel then blue gel to speed up then jump to get to middle platform. I then use my portal arrangement to make a second jump through a portal with the same set-up of gel to get to the exit. Cave speaks again and Glados says she knows him although she can’t remember why. The Aperture Science logo is changing as we go. The next level is a series of plates. Both kinds of gel are here, and I have to use portals to spray them around the level so that I can get a block and bounce from platform to platform. I have the puzzle solved and I just need to execute it, so I decide to call it a night.

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