Portal Video Explains Those Metal Leg Things

goddamnit mike biggs

OK, I seriously have to run out of the door now but can’t do it before posting this. A new Portal 2 video that explains precisely what the shit those metal curves that are strapped to the protagonist’s legs are. Watching this, I let out an “OHHHHHH” of understanding so pronounced that it must have sounded to my neighbours like a moan of pain. Thanks to RPS reader Mike “Last Minute” Biggs for sending this in.


  1. Torgen says:

    What, I thought that it was obvious, from the cutscenes in the first one.

    • James says:

      Quintin, you so stupid!

    • Olivaw says:


      What cutscenes?

    • El_MUERkO says:

      i thought it was obvious too, from the mirrors and having seen the Special Olympics 100 metres runners

    • Nick says:

      Uh, yeah, we already knew.

    • Tei says:

      It was not obvious to me.

      Good work boots!

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      It was also not obvious to me. I hereby submit myself to your rigorous patronization, RPSers.

    • Heliosicle says:

      I let out an “OHHHHHH” too it must be said, I guess I kind of knew that was why there was no fall damage but not consciously.

    • Torgen says:

      @Olivaw: I”m apparently misremembering the reflections early in the game as cutscenes. It’s been a while.

    • Serenegoose says:

      I’d seen people using things like that before (but not to survive terminal velocity falls, since they don’t do that) but the commentary makes it fairly clear what they’re meant to be. I think the video makes a little more sense since you can at least take it as implied that there’s some secret science going on in there. She was barefoot in portal 1 though. Dun dun duuuuun.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      She was barefoot, but she had ‘springs’ clamped to her legs: link to 3.bp.blogspot.com

    • Optimaximal says:

      Chell didn’t have ‘boots’ in the first game… She just had the strange bent metal bits grafted to her fibulas.

    • MDS says:

      Yeah I figured this out in Portal 1 from her ability to survive infinite falls with a “TAP!” sound rather than the “CRUNCH SNAP SQUISH” of e.g. Mirror’s Edge

    • Araxiel says:

      It was obvious to me. Stoopid, stoopid Quintin.

      What else are those thingies supposed to be if not shock absorbers? You even hear them go “clonk” everytime you land.

  2. frenz0rz says:

    Wasnt this already common knowledge?

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      It turns out John’s form of jetlag is contagious. Quick, someone quarantine RPS towers!

    • CMaster says:

      It’s “Castle Shotgun”

      RPS Towers is soooo Future Publishing.

    • Serenegoose says:

      CMaster’s response made me chuckle more than I feel it ought to have. Well done.

    • TheApologist says:

      I miss Amstrad Action.

    • el_Chi says:

      “Amstrad Action” sounds like an extremely specialist porn site.

    • CMaster says:

      ” “Amstrad Action” sounds like an extremely specialist porn site.”
      This is close

    • TheApologist says:

      A CPC 464?! Not my beloved CPC 6128 with integrated disk drive?!


    • Dozer says:

      The absolute highlight of my pizza-delivering career was taking a pizza to Simon Forrester, Technical Writer to Amstrad Action magazine. If I had any childhood heroes, they were the people who wrote and edited AA. I still have them in a box. The magazines, that is, not the staff.

    • TheApologist says:

      It was my firm belief as a boy that beardy Rod Lawton was the funniest human on the planet.

  3. Sirbolt says:

    Ah, love these videos!

    Hmm, i always assumed that precisely this was the reason why you had those boots, and was convinced that it was explained somewhere as well. Seems logical enough!

    • ZamFear says:

      I think the commentary mode explained it. Their real purpose was to make the playtesters stop questioning how Chell could fall from ridiculous heights without injury :)

    • LionsPhil says:


      The ridiculous thing is that in this video she lands on her toes, and the springs do not make contact. I guess the boots contain Aperture Science Inertial Dampeners and the “spring” is now just an Auxiliary Cooling Vane or something.

      (Also, is it me, or is this one just not very funny, compared to the previous? Boring old humans.)

    • Urthman says:

      The fine print is pretty funny.

    • Dhatz says:

      why just heights? you know you can loop through portals for terminal velocity?

    • Foosnark says:

      The “reproducible human error problem” cleanup is pretty funny.

  4. Teddy Leach says:

    So they’re kinda sorta like powerisers, or whatever-the-hell-they’re-called? I thought they looked like them.

  5. Rii says:

    They’re real, by the way. Although I don’t think they’ll save you from a fall like that.

    link to ossur.com

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      You also need to be an amputee to use them, which is quite a restrictive system requirement in my view.

    • Soon says:

      I thought they were a more streamlined version of these. Which have the advantage of allowing you to use them with existing feet.

    • Sleepymatt says:

      I almost made a joke there about nothing being too restrictive in the pursuance of Science, but thankfully my own conscience unit kicked in in time. Phew, shitstorm avoided.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      @ sleepymatt You will do anything for science. You monster.

      Also i really want a go on those pro-jump things, they look like exoskeleton legs. Awesome. Stage 1 of my very own mech suit – complete :D Also lol @ “existing feet” :)

  6. brog says:

    In case anyone’s (like me) squinting to try and read the text on the portal gun diagram:

    blue/orange dye reservoir.
    minature surplus german stick grenade.
    dye trap.
    portal intake manifold.
    quantum shaping prongA
    quantum shaping prongB
    quantum shaping prongC

    Note: if the device fails to produce portals, the Minature Black Hole may need to be restarted by carefully tossing one (1) or two (2) or the minature stick grenades into it.

    fan battery housing
    miniature black hole
    miniature black hole cooling fan
    ring singularity harness
    ring singularity ring (upper)
    ring singularity ring (lower)
    event horizon estimation wheel

    Note: the sudden absence of a steady whirring sound may indicate a Miniature Black Hole Cooling Fan Battery failure. Quickly disassemble the Ring Singularity Harness, pry apart the upper and lower Ring Singularity Rings, and gently remove the Event Horizon Estimation Wheel. Then, while running directly away from the device, use the Wheel to precisely determine an estimated minimum safe stopping distance.

  7. Benny says:

    They did explain this in the dev commentary levels i believe. Feedback from testing made people wonder how they could fall so far without breaking stuff so they added them in.

  8. patricij says:

    lol boots

  9. Avenger says:

    “precisely what the shit those metal curves that are strapped to the protagonist’s legs are…”
    If Quintin somehow understands and gets information out of those diagrams that come with these Portal videos, I will feel really sad for myself as they are just “funny” to me…

  10. Kea says:

    Well, actually, that is an “hommage” to the developers’ first game “narbacular drop”.
    It was a (great and popular) free game they made as students. Valve hired them to create portal, ‘cuz it seams they do recognise pure genius. (When they are not busy counting money, that is…)
    It plays exactly like portal, although it didn’t have the same setting at all.
    In narbacular drop, the main character’s name was “princess noknee”. A poor attempt to justify why she couldn’t jump.
    They kept the same character in portal, out of nostalgia, or just as an easter egg for the old fans. (Which is really appreciated, thanks… However, I would have rather seen some N.D. community levels ported to portal as well. Jeeez, that sounded weird.)
    Well, in this “let’s hire young geniuses” trip, I wonder if they did hire the guys from “TAG, the power of paint” for portal 2, or if they just stole the all paint concept.

  11. Unaco says:

    Secret message in the numbers running under the ECG. Where are all of these ARG shenanigans leading?

  12. lazysuperhero says:

    I love Valve and can’t wait for this. I also adore these little Videos and J. K. Simmons’ perfect delivery.

    I assume it’s J. K. Simmons. Sounds like him.

  13. Electric Dragon says:

    Love Simmons’ delivery of that last line: “So anyway, we’re between banks right now. Just make those cheques out to Cash.”

  14. Navagon says:

    Well if nothing else the guys carting off the broken portal gun made me laugh. So I got something out of it.

  15. Nomaki says:

    Another piece of the mind-blowingly complex puzzle:
    link to valvearg.com

  16. New Player says:

    I think those leg things were the secret star of Portal (not those portals, guns, cakes, cubes, whats-she-called-robot etc.)

  17. nuh uh no way says:

    While I appreciate the videos, I cannot imagine that anyone didn’t know that’s what the things on Chell’s legs were.

  18. skurmedel says:

    I didn’t even know she was called Chell or had boots… where in the game is this explained?

    • nuh uh no way says:

      i can’t remember why i know her name but there are mirrors and other reflective surfaces in the game (portals)

    • CMaster says:

      You never used portals to look at yourself and thought “ah, so that’s why her legs don’t break?”

    • LTK says:

      If you pay attention to the behind-the-scenes sections in Portal you’ll notice some clipboards lying around. One is a schematic for the heel brace and another is a test subject evaluation form with Chell’s name on it.

    • skurmedel says:

      Well, I probably didn’t hehe :D I was chasing the ever elusive cake. Thanks for explaining though. I faintly remember something about the leg braces now that you mention it, but I seem to have forgotten everything about this Chell.

      I think I was too interested in GLADOS and the puzzles to pay attention to any of that.

    • subedii says:

      She was called Chel because that was the name given in the end credits.

      And after that, well it was pretty much confirmed via the devs IIRC, and then fully so by the Portal comics.

  19. Dervish says:

    I wish they had at least tried to make it look like the boots softened her landing. She just slams down on the balls of her feet.

    • Starky says:

      It is a setting with portal guns and gravity guns, and alien technology – I seriously doubt they are just a boot/spring don’t you?

      More like a kinetic energy absorbing field, basically inertial dampeners from star trek.

    • Falcon says:

      The boots clearly contain Aperture Science shower curtains; their mini-detonations made them disastrous for showering (or perhaps made getting clean more exciting, depending on how you roll!), but perfect for breaking falls.

    • Theoban says:

      *bangs desk* damnit, this game looked so good, and now this, this betrayal, goddamnit I wanted to play this game so much but why, why would they do a thing like this? Why can’t her legs be cushioned by the fall? I will boycott every and all Valve releases until this heinous crime is righted. We the Silent Masses will not stand idly by while our imaginary legs are imaginarily not crushed under imaginary forces.

    • gwathdring says:

      I might have missed something, but I don’t think we see her feet at the instant of landing. It is distinctly possible she strikes heel spring first (when no force is on it, it seems to come forward a bit so it mights strike ground near the ball of the foot) which then slides out of the way under impact or as her foot rolls forward.

      Most likely it’s the boot that does the absorption, not the “auxiliary heel.” There was something about velocity dampening labeled on the boot but it was too quick for me to check which number it was and it’s not really worth a frame-by-frame.

      Could also be that they didn’t think it was important and were just having fun. But Valve seems to like little details, so it’s hard to say.

  20. CannedLizard says:

    Anyone noticed several…intriguing game updates today?

    There’s a new button on the AAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAA menu, for one….

    • CannedLizard says:

      GlaDOS just insulted me for enjoying Ladyhawke, and then we indulged in some first-person audiosurf with a song of her own choosing….

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      It’s been going on for a while now: link to valvearg.com

      Edit: Okay, that’s a bit different.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      HAH! I was right: they’ve added Portal themed levels to all the Potato Sack games!

  21. Nighthood says:


    We need a proper RPS post about them.

  22. Tei says:

    I am playing Portal in the ball :D

    Hehehe… POTATOES, science makes then BIG!

  23. TenjouUtena says:

    I resent Valve’s Marketing which has brought me from very ‘meh’ about a sequel to very wanted to drop the money on a pre-order. DAMN YOU VALVE! I have kids to feed, you know.

  24. Xocrates says:

    The game is also available for Pre-loading by the way.

    • Auspex says:

      This is true. Well noticed Xocrates!

    • Tei says:

      SSsssssssssssssshhhhhh… don’t telll that to the internets!, you guys are going to scare the horses.

      Then my download speed will get worse :D

    • Durkonkell says:


      Sitting, looking at the button that says “START PRELOADING NOW” has just brought home to me that we’re one week away from Portal 2 in a way that no comics or investment opportunity videos possibly could. Can I skip this week? Anyone have a spare cryo pod?

  25. MikeBiggs says:

    You’re very welcome Sir!

    Incidentally it was this video that finally got me hooked enough to waste a good half hour browsing the wiki. That place is crazy!

  26. Xocrates says:

    link to dejobaan.net
    EDIT: Nevermind, they took it down already. It was an interesting tidbit explaning/part of the ARG

    EDIT2: yeah, it’s back up

  27. Jahkaivah says:

    Hey, this is kinda off-topic (though possibly ARG related), but those of you who have Amnesia might want to check out the additional no-save campaign thats been added in, I just died after my first playthrough and I have to say it’s rather tense. Just open up the launcher and click the button that says “Justine”.

    • Tusque D'Ivoire says:

      Seems to be some kind of medieval Portal game. I love this.

      The Potato pack kinda doubles the value of Portal. Much love. Even if i only own two of the Potato games, just reading the update news for all these games includes enough eastereggs and stuff to make me feel all tingly inside…

  28. Leelad says:

    Current speculation is that it’s going to be released early. Bit crap for those like me who bought retail PS3 copies so I get a copy for PC too. Meh I got a potato on my steam profile I guess that’s something.

    At any rate it’s all getting too much for me despite my massive disappointment of no Ep3 news at all.

    • Tenorek says:

      While that would be awesome, and I would love to believe it, I just don’t see it happening. I really hope I am wrong though. It is curious that it is pre-loadable a week ahead of time. Is this consistent with steam pre-loads? This is the first game I’ve done it with.

  29. Faldrath says:

    Nah, it’s back up.

    (go reply fail – aimed at the Dejobaan link)

  30. Wulf says:

    Is it me or is there a playful jab at Mirror’s Edge in this? With the falling aspect, I mean. As in “Ha, I bet she wishes she had boots!”

    • Henke says:

      Why would i be a jab at ME more than any other game that has falling damage?

      And why would it be a jab at all?

      In short, yeah, it’s you.

  31. Donjonson says:

    I’d like to preload… but if I do I’ll end up playing waayy too much and fail two exams I have, one in two weeks, the other in three. Must. Remain. Patient. MUST. STAY. STRONG….. MUST BE RESPONSIBLE!!!!!!

  32. d5tryr says:

    This silly boot stuff is the only flaw in the otherwise perfect Portal. That it should be the product of some focus group feedback is all the more depressing.

    Designers playing a little mental game of finding explanations for elements in their imaginary world, that should be left over to suspension of disbelief, is self indulgent. Especially when these things stick out like a sore thumb (attached to a foot) in those moments when you see your avatar through a portal.

    It’s the kind of thing that star wars and star trek do and it distracts from Portal’s otherwise elegant experience.

    It’s odd that science fiction authors and video game designers should look so favourably on the process of canonisation, it’s led to some pretty shitty results elsewhere…

    • Serenegoose says:

      I’m not sure that one should take the ‘explanations’ offered as entirely genuine, nor as the result of any deep thought, save on how best to make the most people laugh. The same video apparently suggests that the portal gun can be kickstarted by miniature german stick grenades, after all. Double especially when the tags that explain what goes into the boots put the ‘synthetic auxiliary heel’ on her -shin-, and the ‘heel massager’ on the achilles tendon.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      The problem was not that players would have a problem with a video game character being able to fall long distances. The problem was that Portal is in the same universe as Half Life, and why the heck is a gunslinging, revolution-leading, super-suit-wearing hero dying from falls that don’t even phase a young lady who is clothed in an ordinary jumpsuit? So they decided on an easy-to implement explanation which was added as a minor background plot device.

  33. Jinnigan says:

    High heels? Short skirts? Hooters top? VALVE, ARE YOU SELLING OUT???

    • Icarus says:

      I don’t think it’s a skirt. It looks like she’s wearing the same orange jumpsuit from Portal, but the top half is folded down around her waist and tied with the sleeves in front.

    • Serenegoose says:

      It’s also worth noting that it’s a flashback to when Chell was actually a volunteer (‘volunteer’) test subject at Aperture. Having her cleaned up a bit makes sense.

  34. Dhatz says:

    no jiggle physics! wait, no physics period.(im adressing no cloth simulation)

  35. Henke says:

    I prefered it when it wasn’t explained. The boots were just one of those things that made the Portal universe seem more real and fleshed out. Such a natural part of the world that noone felt obliged to comment on it.

  36. Jonathan says:

    But, doesn’t she land on her toes there? And what of the effects of the sudden deceleration on the rest of the body?

    Some things are best left unexplained — trying to make the boots “real” prompts too many other questions.

  37. ademiix says:

    0:39 to 0:55 is such a beautiful sequence, it makes me want a Portal movie.

  38. Sunjammer says:

    I just can’t get excited about this game :-( I don’t want to rain on it because it’s just my feeling, but ever since day one I’ve been more excited about what Valve would do with the Source tech than I’ve been about the prospect of more portal puzzles with even more variables; TBH by the end of Portal I was already feeling fatigued.

    This has the Bioshock 2 feel to me. It seems like an unnecessary sequel. But since I’m on Steam i guess Valve will shove it down my throat for a penny in about a year or so, and I’ll probably be proved stupid wrong.

    • Igor Hardy says:

      It’s true the original Portal quickly became repetitive, but the gameplay videos for this one, with all the new gadgets, got me really excited. I think there’s still much untapped potential for unique portal-based puzzles. And there’s always GLaDOS to make things more exciting.

  39. Foosnark says:

    Also, those are some sexy boots.

  40. Araxiel says:

    Whoever is rating this E is sick. Or is just not getting this hilarious but ridiculously black humour.

    Or [which is probably the true reason], is really just rating what exactly you’re seeing and not what does stickmen represent.