Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Aperture's Quest for Your Money

It is amazing that Portal has become such a huge hit. What began as just a little game thrown into the Orange Box quickly transformed into one of the most popular puzzle games that even spawned its own meme, "The cake is a lie." The game itself was and is so awesome that it managed to make a success out of itself without advertising. Thanks to its popularity its sequel was allowed the luxury of advertiment to promote its release. Unlike most commercials the Portal 2 commercials and advertisements are actually worth watching for the humor each possesses. The improvements and new elements within Portal 2 are amazing and the co-op feature is a very welcome addition to the game.

Commercials for Portal 2 show glimses of insight into the story and the type of narrative one will witness. Dark humor, implications of insanity, hints of a corrupt company that does not value human life, and an intense focus on testing are all displayed in the various commercials. While playing the game a person gets to listen to GLaDOS taunt Chell and her surprise for Chell could even be called down right cruel. GLaDOS clearly does not value human life and emotion and when she gains some semblance of respect for it she promptly deletes it to allow herself to continue viewing human beings as disposable items to be used for testing.

The second investment opportunities commercial states that humans can not be trusted and that it why humans are not used for the cooperative tests. Aperture solved this problem by creating special robots designed to participate in the cooperative tests. This apparent solution is not so great. At the end of the commercial Cave Johnson states that "Robots gave us six extra seconds of cooperation." When playing through the cooperative section of the game it is not uncommon for players, who are hopefully human, to start killing each other out of frustration with one another. This behavior unfortunately proves the commercial to be right. Another commercial very similar which I mentioned in a previous blog, "The Romance Safety Compliance Guide" tries to refute the previous commercial, by stating "100% of couples that participate in cooperative portal test are still deeply in love." The couples who participated in the program must have consisted entirely of companion cubes. The cooperative tests are sure to annoy each player to a certain extent. This is in no way meant to be taken that the co-op mode is not fun for it is actually quite enjoyable. GLaDOS's quips about each player can actually lessen the frustration and motivate the players to prove GLaDOS wrong and evenually lead to the completion of the co-op portion of the game. It is definately worth playing through.

Marketing was handled brilliantly by Valve. The commercials were done by Valve instead of outsourced marketing companies and they portrayed exceptionally well the kind of humor one would find within the game. The dialogue never become old and as the GameInformer (issue 218, pg 86) said "The dialogue's pitch perfect delivery is half of Portal 2's genius." There is no dissappointment in opening the game and being greeted by humor and dialogue one may come to expect after seeing the commercials and trailers.

Jana Key,
Lee West

GameInformer issue 218 Portal 2 review,

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