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Portal 2 Day#4: Testing Four, Five, Six

Day#4 of Portal 2 is yet another improvement as the level design gets more and more interesting. I can’t say that the levels are as challenging as I would like them to be, but they are more interesting puzzles now and there’s another new mechanic that’s quite good. The narrative continues to explain backstory, and while it’s not making me cringe, I kind of wish it wasn’t. There’s a bit more narrative handholding here and I don’t like it, and the core pattern of the story is actually getting a bit old. I think I’m close to the end, and I think I can safely say that it gets better as it goes. Spoilers within.

I begin back in the multi-platform level. The next step in the puzzle is that I have to make a pretty precise jump over water to a platform, and I die a couple times on it. Oh, the trick is to use repulsion gel on both the launching ramp AND the platform to bounce to the elevator. That’s a genuinely nice puzzle. As I exit, Cave says that he has positions available for people who want to be reassembled (bodily) from scratch. There’s an elevator load and the testing seems to be over. Cave thanks me with a lot of snide comments about my “homelessness” and my worthless life. I enter a new indoor area with signs telling me not to loiter. I have portal up to the rafters and then get outside. Once outside, there’s a metal platform WAY off ground. I’m not immediately sure where to go.  Oh, I found a level higher. I portal there and exit. As I do, Glados reflects on Caroline (Cave’s secretary) and tells me to handle myself for a while as she turns off. We enter a big pump station and I pull three levers to pump three kinds of gel somewhere.  There are now a bunch of giant pistons going up and down in the corridor I just came down, but I just portal past them. There’s some blue gel on the ground and orange gel on a corridor with more pistons above. I portal to a broken walkway to jump and get momentum for the blue gel and bounce up to the corridor. I run past the pistons using the orange gel by timing it right. A sign in the room at the end describes robot bosses. I exit this area to a set of broken corridors outside. I portal wrong once and drop to my death. These corridors are far apart and I  realize I need blue gel to make jump. Oh wait, no, I can use the orange gel from the last hallway. I put a portal on the other side of the hallway, run past the piston and through the portal back outside to make this jump. It’s another nice puzzle.

When I land on the other side, Cave tells me that all employees must take part in testing, and that they are going to phase out humans for robots. He goes on to say that moon rock testing gave him a nasty illness. They are testing a portal gun to see if it will remove the toxin. As Cave talks, I enter a new waiting area. I push a button to open a door and go up an elevator, but there’s no load this time.  When I get out, I see white gel spilling somewhere. Oh it paints walls you can shoot portals on to. I use that get to paint white surfaces up a couple of towers, and then drop into a portal to fling myself to the exit. When I land, Cave is very bitter and says he wants to make combustible lemons rather than lemonade out of his bad luck. He goes on to talk about making an AI version of himself, and says that if he dies first, that his staff should make an AI version of Caroline, whether she wants it or not. That’s the end of testing (again). I go through a set of doors, and follow the signs for the elevator to the surface. I have to portal my way up a tall narrow space, as there seems to be no elevator.  Ah the elevator’s busted and about half way up the shaft. I  have to negotiate some drops and portal acrobatics to get up to the top,  but I make it pretty quickly. I enter a new area after load, a more up space with a big, open metal structure in the middle. Glados says that the man (Cave) was right. She says that Wheatley will probably kill us (million to one odds of our success), but that we should try anyway. It’s a kind of cheesy pep rally honestly. I have to climb up again and I clearly need to do big drop in the middle to get to the top, but I can’t figure out how. Oh there’s a ramped wall I didn’t see. I try to use a drop to portal fling me off of that wall. It takes me a few tries but I finally set up the drop portal right to reach a second ramp and then repeat the drop with the new ramp to get out.

I enter a new room with all three gels and a ramped wall with a exit high above me. I have to paint the walls white so that I can portal them, and then use the other two gels to create a runway and a jump which takes me to the top. I  have to reuse the strip I made once, but then there’s a nice trick where a white gel drip right where I need to jump that ruins my strip when I open a portal there. I instead have to make a momentum drop to make it to the next level up. I reach this weird tunnel interlude that I can’t orient in. I have no idea what’s going on, but I see a place I can shoot a portal and get out. This takes me to a new pumping room.  I have to do a momentum jump to get to a control room. Glados sees poster about paradoxes and how you can beat a rogue AI. After seeing it, Glados says she knows how to beat Wheatley. I hit a button to lower a lift down from the ceiling. Glados says she can fry every circuit in that idiot’s head … as long as she doesn’t listen to what she’s saying. We get in the lift and go up, and then pass through a dark area to an elevator. Glados says her plan is a marginally better plan than exploding, so she’s confident.

I take the elevator up, and come on to a scene of Wheatley making walking boxes. Glados tells me to get her down there. I have to portal around to get into the room, but I do it. She tries a paradox on him (“This statement is false”) but Wheatley’s too stupid to understand it. She then tells him the place will explode, and he says he’ll shut it off, but right now he needs test subjects. And it’s on to more testing. He’s got an itch to test and thus has to make us test. I’m getting a little sick of this structure — it’s like the fourth or fifth time I’ve had to take tests in this game. I know it’s Portal, but there have got to be some other tricks.  As we enter the first test, there’s an alert announcement that the explosion is still happening. The first test is deliberately bone stupid, so I do it and get out. He wants me to do it again to get that testing satisfaction. I do, but repeating the same test doesn’t fulfill the itch.

Wheatley sends me to the next test, which is one of Glados’s. This level has a antigrav beam. I have to redirect beam to get a box and then redirect again to push that box to a button on the ceiling to exit. The next level is antigrav ray puzzle with bottomless pits where I have to use portals to adjust the direction of the ray to push me around the level without dropping to my death.  It’s pretty straightforward, but not bad. Wheatley gets frustrated and tries to help me, but he gets a shock when he starts talking about the solution, but I get out without his help. Glados says the solution again on the way to the elevator to give Wheatley one more shock.   The  next level is another bounce around bottomless pit with antigrav rays.  I can see how this one’s going to go, so I’m calling it a night now.

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