Say “Apple”: The First 8 Mins Of Portal 2

By Alec Meer on March 15th, 2011 at 10:04 am.

Wheatley will turn out to be evil, right? I mean look at him there - clearly thinking about lasering my eyeballs to death

Snuck out of the recent Coin Gallery Conference is some impressively stable but somewhat muffled weakman footage of Portal 2 – eight minutes of agreeably mirthsome material from famous persons Stephen Merchant and the newly-announced JK Simmons. It’s on the very mildly spoilery side, so look away now if you don’t want to know about how Chell ends up snogging Gordon Freeman in the second level.

Oh lord, what have I done!

There’s really not much revelation that isn’t already known about to be honest, but I know you kids sure can get spiky about not being warned. Mostly it’s just a few lines of sharply-written introductory dialogue and a couple of simple puzzle solutions.

The key spoiler is in fact confirming a long-standing rumour – that Aperture Science bossman Cave Johnson would be making some sort of appearance in the game. The latter half of this video demonstrates that his voice, at least, will very much be present, and provided by the redoubtable JK Simmons. A character actor par excellence, and a chap who shines even when he ends up in something dreadful. Fortunately, this does not look dreadful. In addition, his jovial sociopathy apparently takes a crucially different form to GlaDOS’. Not so much of the calculating manipulation, more “hell, why not? It’s only people.” For more alleged detail on Johnson’s role in the game, there’s a clutch of apparent mega-spoilers here.

Here’s the video:

I’m warming to the inclusion of Stephen Merchant as skittish AI Wheatley, whose perhaps over-familiar (in the UK) voice/persona I initially felt could be somewhat at odds with the Portalverse. Seeing it in context to another new addition, Johnson, makes the picture much more clear, however – this is very much about adding colour, change and variety to the game, rather than replicating the ice-cold machine humour of the first game. On top of what continue to be impressively lavish graphicsosity, I’m pretty damned sure we’re in for a remarkably rich game.

I’m still worried I won’t be able to do half the puzzles, though. I am very stupid.

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31 Comments »

  1. MadTinkerer says:

    J. Jonah Jameson is the founder of Aperture Science. Suddenly everything makes sense!

  2. Jahkaivah says:

    This looks like an awesome video to not watch.

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      Diziet Sma says:

      The sound is awful and the voices barely legible so I stopped watching after a few minutes. Probably best to wait anyhow.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      It’s really not that spoilery. It only contains a couple dozen new lines of dialogue (much of which is Wheatley trying to get you to say “apple”) and a demonstration of a couple of the earliest training areas. It’s no more spoilery than the original Portal trailer.

      It does show that Portal 2 is going to have a lot more comedy sketch-style bits as opposed to the original being full of one-liners and only one scene with continuous dialogue at the end. But again, that’s not that spoilerish to know.

      EDIT: and if you’re having trouble understanding the dialogue go here: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1788834

  3. Frozer says:

    On one hand I really want to watch the video, on the other hand I really want to save the experience for when I actually play the game.

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    BrettW says:

    FYI: Your “mega-spoilers” link goes to an edit link, not a view.

    Also ohmanohmanohman, I’m excited about Portal 2. But having watched this video, I’ll have to go into media blackout so the experience is unspoiled (well, less spoiled).

  5. Optimaximal says:

    I hope Merchant’s delivery is more his actual acting performances and less him ‘phone in’ performance on the Lloyds TSB adverts.

    Who am I kidding – it will be the former and it will be great! Not watching the video so it’s TOTALLY FRESH TO ME COME NEXT MONTH!

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    Monchberter says:

    Valve gone celeb? It’s the end of the world!!!

  7. Curvespace says:

    It’s interesting to watch the animation of Merchant Bot as they’ve clearly filmed him delivering the lines and then worked to that. Always freaks me out when I see someone’s familiar mannerisms transposed onto a completely different form.

    • Milky1985 says:

      Maybe they are secret Red Vs Blue fans and have got roosterteeth to train them on the “headbob speech” style of filming :p”

  8. syntax says:

    Was that dynamic lighting? On the Source engine? Valve products always have amazing longevity and great support. The Source engine and TF2 are good examples.

    • qwiggalo says:

      I’m not exactly sure what you’re referring to, but it’s most likely not dynamic but something else or the new Projected Texture. It was to be used in L4D for the flashlight, maybe they got it working for Portal 2.

      It’s just projecting a lit version of the texture, not projecting light. You could only really have one dynamic light on screen in Source and I don’t think they could ever fix that, they rather introduced a whole new method.

    • skinlo says:

      It is dynamic lighting, quite a few interviews with various members of Valve have confirmed that.

    • Jabe_Jackman says:

      @Qwiggalo

      :80k:

  9. McDan says:

    Trying…not to watch…too hard…to resist

  10. Dominic White says:

    Well, this explains a lot about Gordon Freeman, in a roundabout sorta way.

    Also, J.K. Simmons as Cave Johnson is perfect casting.

  11. Mr_Day says:

    Trust Steve Jobs. This sort of obnoxious advertising in videogames is deplorable.

    I kid because I love. It all looks lovely and polished, doesn’t it? I am glad they mixed a different approach to the humour other than just repeating Portal.

  12. itsallcrap says:

    Thus far I haven’t been one of the purists boycotting all the Portal 2 videos in case it spoils one puzzle or one line of dialogue for them, but the first eight minutes of the game is a biit much. I am resolutely not clicking play here.

  13. Daryl says:

    Looks completely awesome. I can’t wait for April 20 (no, not for that reason. For the game.)

  14. Bureaucrat says:

    I have anticipatory motion sickness just thinking about this game.

    Gotta stock up on ginger and dramamine.

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    shoptroll says:

    I got to see this video in the booth at PAX (and snagged a free shirt!) and it basically “spoiled” maybe the first 5 minutes of the game I think for the Wheatley section… which was barely what I’d call gameplay. The part where they demoed Johnson’s voice was a slightly later section I think, but it’s hard to say exactly where and when it takes place in the story. I don’t think they did much in terms of puzzle solving in either part of the video so no mechanical spoilers to be found. Unless you consider things like a movement tutorial to be mechanical spoilers. The focus for the entire demo was to show off the voice work and I didn’t come away feeling like they ruined anything else in the process.

    I’m really surprised the audio quality on this capture is terrible. It was plenty loud in the closed theater booth. Valve will probably release the actual video on Steam in the coming weeks since it was essentially a trailer for the game complete with a “Go pre-order now” screen at the end.

  16. Duoae says:

    Can’t watch the video because i don’t want to spoil anything else…. but have they at least roboticised the voices? Or are they just human voices (for no reason)?

    :Sadface: if they are just human voices…. Stupid logical inconsistencies in an imaginary world!!

    • skinlo says:

      Only Glados is robotic. But why do they have to be robotic, even the best speech synth programs nowadays don’t sound that robotic, and this is set 200 years in the future.

    • Duoae says:

      Because for one, it is in keeping with the universe so far (Glados, Dog, Combine, Turrets, HL1/2 warning systems etc) and two which synthesized programmes sound as good as a human today? Especially considering the world and development on such things pretty much ended when the inter-dimensional storm from Half Life occurred.

      Oh yeah, i also think that the human voices they’ve picked for the “acting” are pretty lame and uninteresting. Seriously, lets have a completely disconnected voice doing the work for this item right in front of the player. They could literally be anywhere in the room – there’s no directionality or anything.

    • Mr_Day says:

      “which synthesized programmes sound as good as a human today?”

      I am guessing you haven’t seen Watson – he does a pretty good job at it.

      But having said that, Glados was given specific vocal inflection to simulate the way a computer responds – Watson does it there, a word that is pronounced in the exact same way each time it is said. It can be quite jarring to human ears.

    • Duoae says:

      I hadn’t seen watson (though heard of him) so thanks for that link. But he’s got a robotic voice too. Even though it’s relatively better than some robot voices, that’s pretty close to fake robot voices like Glados and the turrets. However, what i originally saw of Portal 2′s new personality spheres was that they were just human voices…. which, well, it’s very “unbelievable” to me. Takes me right out of the experience.

  17. sfeller005 says:

    Looks like this got more polish and level design than portal 1. Can’t wait for this to come out.

    http://www.awkwardengineer.com

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    KindredPhantom says:

    I still prefer the place holder voice actor, he sounded a lot more funny.

  19. Eukatheude says:

    Meh, the audio is terrible and my poor english doesn’t help.

  20. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    HL2 slashfic. Now I’ve seen everything.