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Portal 2 - The Final Hours now on Steam

Do you crave more Portal 2 development insight? Enough to pay for it? Fret not: Portal 2 - The Final Hours is now available on Steam as well as iPad. It'll set you back £1.49/$2.00 The 15,000 word multimedia experience/interactive documentary/digital book was created by Geoff Keighley during Portal 2's development. Valve gave him "fly on the wall" access to their offices, resulting in a "gripping and dramatic story brought to life by exclusive photos, videos, interviews, interactive experiences, and other surprises." Read on for the details and Craig's mini-review.

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Portal 2 review

I may be the dumbest genius ever. At least, that’s how I feel after playing Portal 2’s fantastic single-player campaign. Many puzzles in the last third of the eight to 10 hours (perhaps less, depending on how clever you are) of its brain-bending puzzle “test chambers” had me convinced at one point or another that they were completely unsolvable, and that some bug or sadist game designer placed the exit just out of reach. I’d let out exasperated sighs as every attempt met with a dead end. I’d grimace in disapproval as I plummeted to my death for the tenth time. I’d consider surrender. Then, through either sudden revelation, divine inspiration, or total accident, it would come to me: use the orange Propulsion Gel to reach the energy bridge, then catapult across the chasm and shift my blue portal to the inclined surface (in mid-air, mind you) to launch me up to the ledge, grab the refraction cube and redirect the laser beam to wipe out the turrets and activate the switch! It’s so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t see it until now. One half of Portal 2’s brilliance is making me kick myself for not thinking of the impossible; the other is making me feel immensely satisfied with myself when I finally do, again and again. Note: while we've made every effort to avoid spoilers in this review, you cannot review a game without discussing what it does well and what it doesn't. Be aware that reading any review is going to take some of the surprise out of it.

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Mod of the Week: Dilapidation, for Portal 2

I haven't really played many community-made Portal 2 maps. Whenever I get the urge for more Portal, it's usually because I'm in the mood for the biting insults of GLaDoS, the goofy earnestness of Wheatley, or the brusque instructional tones of Cave Johnson, as opposed to simply wanting more puzzles. This week, though, I decided to finally see what the Portal community has been up to, and I managed to find a decent seven-part single-player campaign called Dilapidation, set in a damaged and deeply unstable corner of Aperture Science.

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Behind the scenes of Valve's Portal 2 ARG

When Portal 2 was announced, the news dropped through an elaborate scavenger hunt puzzle that sent thousands of players crawling all over the internet. Years later, we finally get to see some of the work that went into making that alternate reality game, as told by celebrated Half-Life modder (now Valve employee) Adam Foster in a blog post at Gamasutra.

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Interview: Valve on their insane Portal 2 ideas

I was at Valve last month to interview pretty much everyone I could find, and play one of the most exciting PC games on the horizon: Portal 2. The preview I wrote, and the profile on Valve themselves, is in the new issue of PC Gamer in the UK. But we're also putting up the interviews here on the site, one a day for a week. Yesterday Gabe and co told us about Valve's failures, and Wednesday's interview was about Valve's big surprises. For today's, I had the brain taxing pleasure of playing Portal 2 in co-op with its project lead Josh Weier, while interviewing both him and writer Erik Wolpaw. I'll explain what's going on in the game any time it's relevant to what they tell me, and I have of course cut out a lot of, "Put one there. No there. No, don't jump in the slime. WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?"

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The best Portal 2 singleplayer maps and campaigns

Thanks to the Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC's easy-to-use and fun-to-play-with level editor, Portal 2 has a near-endless supply of new puzzles for players to enjoy. Since its release, over 200,000 new community made levels have been uploaded to the Steam Workshop, ready for a one-click download and integration into Cave Johnson's pan-dimensional scam. Whether you love lasers, revere repulsion gel or crave companion cubes (don't we all?) there's sure to be something out there. Here's our pick of the best ten community-created puzzles available, and a further five fulsome campaigns. Obviously, with so many to choose from, some are bound to have fallen through the cracks. Be sure to share your favourites in the comments, and keep your eyes peeled for our top co-op maps in the very near future.

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Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative hands-on

As Valve themselves once said, making games is hard. Over the course of a weekend with the Portal 2 Perpetual Testing Initiative DLC, I've established my own version of that rule: making games is harder when you're an idiot. I recorded my first baby steps with the new test chamber editor, and in doing so have created a permanent record of my failures as a human being. Marvel as I crush myself with a lift! Yell at your monitor as I fail to consider an array of incredibly trivial solutions to my own puzzle! By way of compensation, I spent another couple of hours working on my test chamber and eventually hammered it into something resembling an actual level. You'll be able to download the final result - the PCG Reflection Challenge - from the Portal 2 Workshop when the DLC launches later today. 'Reflection' means two things, in this context. One: what you do with a laser. Two: that I need to have a bit of a think about my life.

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Valve working on Portal 2 level editor, GLaDOS possibly coming along for the ride

Portal's been begging for its own level-creation tool since GLaDOS first began turning frowns upside-down - physically, that is, by snapping people's necks. Fortunately, it's finally in the cards - with a pretty awesome twist, to boot. According to an update to journalist Geoff Keighley's "The Final Hours of Portal 2" app (via Kotaku), Valve's currently putting together a "a Photoshop for test chambers" that'll allow players to create and access content without ever having to leave the game. And who will be presiding over your devious machinations? Why, the nigh-immortal master of tests herself, GLaDOS. "The writers are even discussing the idea of adding a personality to the editor," explained Keighley. "[I]magine what it would be like to have GLaDOS berate you every time you spell something incorrectly in Microsoft Word and you'll have a sense of where this can go."

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Guild Wars 2 review

Players gather on the staircase leading down to the Ascalonian catacombs, filling local chat with group requests. A few run about, periodically charging up a nearby hill to repel another assault by harpies on a Durmand Priory dig site. Others dance, or run a sleep emote. A significant number are crammed in underneath the waypoint that links this part of the plains of Ashford to the rest of the world of Tyria.

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Guild Wars 2 review as it happens

Welcome to our Guild Wars 2 review in progress. The three day head start for Guild Wars 2 pre-purchasers began on Saturday morning. Chris has been in the game (well, ish) from the start, and will be recording his impressions here over the course of next few days with a full review to follow.

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Valve on Source 2: "We just update Source - not replace it"

For an engine that feels like it's been around for half of my life, Valve's Half-Life-2-powering Source Engine could be doing a whole hell of a lot worse. Even so, the likes of Portal 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive probably aren't pushing your PC to take up a part-time job as a very large, angular stove top. Point being, Source is past its prime, and gamers want to see what magical crowbar-rendering tech Valve can pull out of its hat next. According to Chet Faliszek, however, Valve's in no rush to make another big leap any time soon.

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Now Playing: earning a hard-fought victory against Guild Wars 2's twisted marionette

It's in the nature of a non-subscription MMO that, when freed from the guilt of making the most out of a monthly payment, people will drift in and out of it over time. That's what I've been doing in Guild Wars 2, finding myself falling in love with it for brief periods, before moving on to be obsessed by something else. With the recent Origins of Madness update, I've been dragged back in. It's all down to one of the new world bosses: the Twisted Marionette. Remarkably, it's one of the best encounters ArenaNet have ever created for the game.

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First look at Ragnaros' new raid dungeon, and the upcoming progressive quest hub in patch 4.2's preview videos

It's been less than 24 hours since patch 4.1 hit live servers, and Blizzard's already showing off the raid and daily quest content coming in World of Warcraft's next major content patch, 4.2. Read on for both videos (which show all of the bosses located inside the Firelands raid--filled with as much fire, magma, and associated burning things as you'd expect) and everything we know about Molten Front, the new zone being added, and how its progressively-unlocked quest hub in Molten Front will work.

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Warlock 2 hands-on: set fire to angry dragons in this cheery turn-based sequel

Sod’s law says that the moment you move your armies through a portal to another floating island world is the precise moment the army of hidden dragons will attack. So it proves in turn-based strategy game Warlock II. The blasted lizards punish me for over-stretching an hour into the playable preview build, eating my scouts and laying siege to my capital city. What’s a mage to do? Douse the problem in eldritch flame, obviously. My capital can hurl one magical bolt a turn. I’d previously been using it to whittle down the health of a kraken living in a nearby lake, but now it’s enough to send the huge dragon at my doorstep fleeing for a respite. It’s a good temporary defence measure, but it’s no replacement for an army of veteran bowmen. If only I hadn’t sent my veteran bowmen to a plane of reality populated by frost giants who hate veteran bowmen.

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And in other PC gaming news...

The office is ripe with Deus Ex: Human Revolution excitement. Rich keeps squeaking on about it and Tom has left the office to record a special dedicated podcast. But the world of PC gaming is a diverse one. The fact that Diablo 3 is entering the final stage of development has got my index finger twitching like a lone lead tapping against a PSU fan. Click more for today's bonus links.

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Last call for the Steam Summer Camp Sale. Shoot, build, and grind for cheap

The recent Steam Summer Camp Sale has brought new achievements and in-game rewards, along with a bumper selection of cheap games. Today is "Encore Day!" Unless Valve go for a stadium-satisfying multi-encore finish, it's your final chance to download a bargain. All the games are picked from the week's top sellers. Battlefield Bad Company 2 for £4.99/$7.50, Terraria for £2.99/$4.99 and Magicka for £2.71/$3.39? Yes please. Click through for more details of today's deals.

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The Sunday Video Pwn

Freeman's Mind is one of the best gaming series on YouTube. The premise is simple: creator Ross Scott plays though the original Half-Life, narrating with the thoughts of mute protagonist Gordon. It's frequently funny, but episodes have been a little thin on the ground recently. Thankfully, episode 32 has been uploaded this week. Take a look, and if this is your first journey into the mind of a theoretical physicist, ensure you take a look at the back-catalogue of Gordon's adventures in Black Mesa.

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The weekend playlist

The weekend is looming like an angry but awesome bear. We've been planning ahead, drawing up master strategies for the best way to spend our spare time over the next few days. Should we trim our bonsai trees? Alphabetize our DVD collections? See our loved ones? No, of course not. We'll be busy diving into the latest and greatest PC games. Here's a list of what we're going to play this weekend, and why.

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Valve hire Doug Church of Thief, System Shock fame

This kind of industry news happens all the time, and it's not normally the kind of thing we'd report. This is just too good, though. Valve have confirmed that they've hired Doug Church, a games designer who worked on, amongst others, Ultima Underworld, Thief, System Shock and Deus Ex. And Flight Unlimited 2, which was totally amazing by the way. When Tom spoke to Gabe Newell at great length last year, he discussed Valve's hiring practices. At the time, Newell mention that: "We have one guy who I think we’re finally going to get to move here that we’ve been pursuing for twelve years now, and we finally have convinced him to join the horde." PURE SPECULATION from my brain suggests Doug Church might be the guy. There's no word on what project Church is working on - and whether it's something new or something existing - but Gamasutra received confirmation about the hire from Valve's Doug Lombardi. The imagination runs wild. Hop below for the full section about hiring practices from Tom's Gabe Newell interviews.

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Swedish Indie Pack, currently 81% off on Steam

There have been quite a few Swedish games in the last few years, from the arty Blueberry Garden to the... The Ball. With the Swedish Indie Pack, you can get 10 games just £10.99 - a saving of £49.41. And now to get through the full list without making a single cheap pop-culture reference. This is going to be quite a challenge, isn't it?

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