In the eighth chapter of Portal 2, GLaDOS and Chell must succeed in conquering Wheatley’s increasingly strange and dangerous chambers. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to play Portal 2.
Chapter Eight: The Itch
It just keeps getting better. IT’S SO AMAZING.
This game certainly relies on its own past, but does so in a way so that you’re forced to use nearly every device or technique you’ve learned from the beginning. Every chamber Wheatley builds for you requires around five steps minimum to complete, often needing lightning-speed reactions from you so that you aren’t chopped to pieces my lasers or left to plunge into a pit that extends miles below you. Nearly every chamber is guaranteed deadly if you’re not careful, and I certainly died in at least three of them.
Not only are the gels here, and the beams, and the cubes, and the Aerial Faith Plates, but this chapter introduces beams. Or Beams. I don’t know if they have an Official Name. These beams, which have two complimentary colors and travel in two directions based on the color, are ways of traveling over large gaps and transporting the gels when you need to spread them everywhere. This has a similar effect as the gameplay in chapter seven. You have to do a bit of construction in the chamber before it’s totally playable.
I also felt like this was the first time the logic of Portal‘s gameplay became so ingrained in my head that it was frustratingly hard. I conquered most rooms in under ten minutes! I was really proud of this. They weren’t necessarily easier; hell, that room with the three turrets behind the glass was EXTREMELY HARD and I kept messing up and ARGH. It’s just that my mind just hit the right creative wavelength, and I was able to complete this entire chapter rather rapidly. I DIDN’T FEEL LIKE I SUCKED AT THIS GAME, BASICALLY. Honestly, I had a great time playing this.
I do miss Cave Johnson, and I don’t expect to see him again in the game. The most monumental change in Portal 2 comes in the reversal of roles between GLaDOS and Wheatley, whose characterization has become something entirely unexpected. Throughout chapter eight, GLaDOS helps you and encourages you not only to beat the chambers, but assures you that they’ll find a way out. GLaDOS does this. The same character that spent most of this game and all of the last game leading you to your death has accepted that you must work together to beat Wheatley.
Wheatley, on the other hand, is not only an antagonist, but the writers have brilliantly subverted the trope concerning AI antagonists: Wheatley is not very good at being intelligent. Hell, when you start playing his chambers, they’re awful. That first chamber of his was so deceptively easy that I thought it was a trick. Then he makes you do it again. Oh my god. His rooms are often broken, sloppy, and misguided. You’re not even solving the intended rooms; you’re basically doing what you can with what you’ve been given. On top of this, it’s just a treat to listen to Wheatley and GLaDOS bicker with one another.
Great as always! I especially love when Wheatley decided to play classical music and GLaDOS’s response sounded like it was rolling their eyes. Well, tonally, that is. They don’t have eyes. I loved the music during the part where Wheatley tricks you onto stepping on that Aerial Faith Plate.
Wow, we’re back to the dark, shiny, and modern chambers. Here, though, they’re still a mess, and the design is intentional. They really do look like incomplete rooms. Often, I’d arrive in a room and have to wait until Wheatley finished assembling it.
I did experience a few moments of lag, but you know, that’s not the games fault. I didn’t ever expect to use my MacBook Pro for gaming, so I think I might have to do some upgrades in the future. Otherwise, I’m just constantly impressed by how smooth and non-buggy this game is. Granted, it’s been out for some time. I remember how bad some of the bugs and glitches were when Fallout: New Vegas were. I got that on release day and got stuck in a building within the first six hours. WHOOPS. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about that.
If the last chapter was about a progression through time, this chapter feels like a deconstruction of Aperture, both literally and figuratively. Obviously, these chambers are incomplete. They toy with the notion of what this game is supposed to be. Wheatley is building these not because it’s for a specific end. He has an itch. This idea – that GLaDOS was programmed to be satisfied by the completion of rooms – is exaggerated in Wheatley. On top of that, he starts stealing rooms that belonged to GLaDOS. You’d think this would be good, since GLaDOS is on your side now and you can just get the solutions from her. But then it’s revealed that the AI running the Enrichment Center cannot give the solutions or they’ll experience pain. So we get to experience this part of the story as the layers of the AI running things are peeled back. Their programming is far more complicated than we had thought it was.
Wheatley then becomes upset that you are able to beat many of these rooms, which struck me as kind of strange. Wasn’t he pleased by this? Why would he suddenly change his mind? I initially wrote it off as another side affect of being overwhelmed with power. But once I approached that final chamber and was tricked into being jettisoned into the air to be presented to Wheatley, GLaDOS said that it was clear he discovered the Cooperative Testing Initiative. It was something they created before Chell killed them in the first game, allowing the rooms to be tested by non-human subjects.
And then I’m thrust before Wheatley on a tiny platform in the middle of nothing, and he says, “This is the part where I kill you.”
The “Love it till DEATH” sequence of dialogue was fantastic.
Is this seriously what Wheatley has been spending his time doing? No wonder the nuclear reactor is gonna blow. HE IS THE WORST AI EVER.
Wheatly, you spent all this time up here – ages, really – and this is the sign you came up with.
A gold star for you, Wheatley.
Traveling in these beams kind of made me dizzy. SCIENCE.
Okay, everyone, I am so proud of myself. I FIGURED THIS ENTIRE PUZZLE OUT ON THE FIRST TRY. It made me so happy that I laughed until I nearly cried.
FUCK THIS ROOM. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but this room was PRECARIOUS. You had to set up so many things, and traveling on that goddamn moving platform was RIDICULOUS. Like, you had to stop it at the right point, turn off the lasers, walk you and the Redirection Cube to the other half, turn the lasers on, then start the platform again, then position the – OH GOD I CAN’T. I did feel quite accomplished when I was done.
I LOVED THIS CHAMBER. That’s probably because I also figured this out with only two attempts. The first time, I went flying off the ramp and realized I hadn’t checked to see what was on the other side. So I landed in nothing. Whoops.
oh god ONLY TWO MORE LEFT UNTIL I’M DONE. I’m scared.
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