Portal 2

Created under Doug Churches design & direction, Portal 2 was the hugely successful sequel to the (also hugely successful) Portal, released back in 2007. Church helped to design Portal 2 for Valve, who, through Electronic Arts, released the game across every large console or PC based system save for on the Wii.

Very similar to the original Portal game, Portal 2 consisted mainly of a series of levels in the form of increasingly complex puzzles which must be solved & beaten by moving the player character around using the ‘Portal Gun’, a device that allowed the player to effectively create micro-wormholes throughout the level (basically, ‘portals’), but only on flat planes, not in mid-air. The extremely impressive physics engine Church helped to design for the game meant that a player passing through one portal and coming out the other retained the kinetic energy from its movement, meaning that entering a portal from a long fall would result in the player character leaving the exit-portal and considerably higher speed (& going a much farther distance through the air) than if they had simply walked through a portal at ground level like a normal door. The players were encouraged to use this physics system in order to traverse gaps which were too big to ordinarily jump over and such, as well as innumerable other obstacles throughout the game, in order to reach the goal.

As Church didn’t simply want to remake the previous game with better graphic however, several new gameplay elements were added to Portal 2, such as laser redirection, light bridges, tractor beams, and special surface that could have certain abilities, such as boosting the player characters speed or jump height & distance.

Portal 2 featured a single player story mode with a very well thought out storyline where the character resumes control of the main protagonist Chell from Portal, released from stasis years after the first game. For a game with such a simple concept as the puzzle solving aspect would lead many to believe (I myself didn’t expect any form of interesting story from the game until I first tried it), the story was very well though out & engrossing, giving the players plenty of desire to see the campaign through, to thwart the Artificial Intelligence GLaDOS (the returned antagonist from Portal).

However, despite having a bigger & better story than its original; the thing that truly made Portal 2 a success was its multiplayer, in which two players were given controls of Portal Gun-armed-robots, & tasked with working together in order to complete puzzles impossible for one player alone. The multiplayer was & still is one of the best examples of cooperative gaming ever seen within the computer games industry & market, & could have probably have made the game a success even if the single-player mode had been entirely absent.

Ironically, given his penchant for paying great attention to ensuring a game has a fascinating & compelling story appropriate to its genre, Churches work ensured that the most successful aspect of the game was by far its multiplayer appeal rather than its appeal to lone-gamers. Still, it should be noted that Church has taken part in the design & development of considerably fewer competitive games than solo or cooperative games; showing that he clearly finds cooperation leading towards success for everyone far more rewarding and appealing than rivalry via conflict a=& competition, which is something I can agree with completely …


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