In the ninth and final chapter of Portal 2, GLaDOS and Chell must finally face Wheatley in an epic showdown. Involving the moon. REALLY! If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to play Portal 2.
Chapter 9: The Part Where…
I can’t. I CAN’T.
This really is an amalgamation of everything I’ve learned over the course of this game. There are gels, portals, Aerial Faith Plates, turrets, those blue wave things, and the fucking moon. With the exception of the Hard Light Bridges, I had to use every tool at my disposal to not only get to Wheatley, but destroy him. For a timed segment, I actually did pretty well! You’ll see in the Mark Plays video below that I died the first time around when the clock ran out of time, but I easily figured out what I needed to do on my second playthrough of the boss fight. If there was anything here I’d complain about, it would be the style of the gameplay present for Wheatley’s battle. It felt remarkably similar to the final battle with GLaDOS in Portal, but when you consider the story at hand, it still makes a lot of sense.
A lot of the chambers and rooms in the maintenance area of Aperture were exceptionally difficult. I spent a lot of time just being confused, unsure of how the hell I was supposed to get to the next spot. There weren’t many options all of the time. Oh god, that room with the Aerial Faith Plate in it was the WORST. It took me so long to figure out that I was supposed to knock out the turrets with the bouncing gel and then place it around the room to jump properly. UNFORTUNATELY, I GOT VERY FEW SUCCESSES ON CAMERA. I imagine watching me play video games is going to be an exercise in mounting frustration. WELCOME TO MY SITE, Y’ALL, IT’S GOING TO BE A VERY LONG RIDE.
You know, ultimately, I feel sorry for Wheatley. As a villain, he kind of got forced into that role. Like, I certainly didn’t feel that rush of frustration and anger like when I faced GLaDOS in the first game. I just wanted to be friends with him again! Well, that is until he made that giant spike arm thingy smash the walkway I was on. DUDE, THAT IS FUCKING SCARY. But even in hindsight, Wheatley is such a fascinating antagonist. He’s so pleasant most of the time! He’s a victim of circumstance in a lot of ways, too. He initially was there to help you escape, and this wasn’t meant as a trick. His evil turn was this rad commentary on how power corrupts absolutely, that beings (human or not) can let such things go to their head fairly quickly. So I admit that I am pretty sad that Wheatley got jettisoned into space. Poor robot! I’ll miss him.
GLaDOS helps you. That sentence alone is MONUMENTAL for her character. This entire last part of the game features the character you were meant to think of as the main villain as your primary source of assistance. And GLaDOS has largely disposed of all the hate for Chell, choosing instead to focus on defeating Wheatley. This is one of the main reasons I love this game so much. The story told throughout is just so engaging, smart, and emotional. Yeah, fuck anyone who says that video games aren’t compelling or a form of art. They totally are.
I know I’ve missed so much along the way, but I actually think music is an integral part of gaming. A lot of the more memorable games I have played all have music attached to them. Those opening notes upon loading Fallout 3 are beautiful and familiar to me, as is “Nate’s Theme” from Uncharted 2. I’ve never felt like the music in this game was out of place. At times, it was nestled quietly in the background, but that can be an important addition, too. That means it fits. The music in the final battle, though, is just FANTASTIC. I think whenever things get more upbeat, I notice them more than usual. Bravo. OH GOD, PLEASE LET THERE BE AN AWESOME SONG IN THE CREDITS.
I’ll always adore the fact that the very deconstruction of what a game can be is matched with a design of a room that’s constantly shifting, reshaping, and falling apart. I think you can easily see the Portal series as a commentary on the construction of gaming itself. So often we play through various settings and never ask what’s behind the scenes. These games constantly pull back the curtain to show you the mechanisms powering the levels. Often, the game becomes your exploration of the backstage area. It really is what’s so brilliant about level 19 in Portal, and that same sentiment is brought to the final chapter here. So I do believe that the design of all of these final rooms is brilliant on a subtextual level. They’re massive. They’re spooky. They’re incomplete, fractured, shadowed, broken. And by gods, that is such a fantastic sense of symmetry with the story being told at the same time.
Also, you put a portal on the moon and you end up traveling to the moon through a portal and YOU PUT A GODDAMN PORTAL ON THE FUCKING MOON AND IT LOOKS AMAZING.
Ah, the defeat of Wheatley involves corrupting his cores. Even though he’s already “corrupt.” GET IT? GET IT? But what I loved most about this final chapter is pretty obvious. A few chapters ago, Cave Johnson made an offhand comment about lunar dust being super reactive to portals, so when the roof burst open, I thought, “What the hell?” I mean, I was out of options anyway. Still, I didn’t think it would work. I started shooting portals towards random areas on the remaining parts of the ceiling until I saw the tiniest blip of light on the moon and then HOLY SHIT WE ARE ON THE MOON ARE YOU SERIOUS. I just laughed until I had tears in my eyes.
This story has always been about surmounting the impossible. Against absurd odds, Chell perseveres to get out of Aperture Sciences. She solves puzzles that seem so ridiculous that giving up is probably a better idea. And when she’s thrown into the core of this gigantic factory, she fights her way to the surface. Along the way, the impossible happens: she makes an ally in her closest enemy. She outsmarts a genius AI system with clever thought and physicality. She is victorious through willpower. Now, I realize that we, the players, are the ones controlling the main characters. We sort of inject ourselves into the story. And I don’t want to ignore that! It’s kind of fascinating that the game allows that sort of insertion of the self. Still, this game feels like Chell’s story more than anything else, despite that we don’t know much about her.
Oh god, so what’s going to happen after this???
So, I wanted to do something special for Megan (aka megotelek in the comments), who commissioned the very first Mark Plays video from me. She bought chapter nine, and… well….
Okay. So I made six videos. Of all six of the main areas in this chapter. These are all playthroughs with my voice yelling over them. I apologize in advance for my ABYSMAL GAMEPLAY. I told y’all I was awful! While you will see a lot of failure in these videos, I generally figured out what to do on my second chance through. I LEARN. I SWEAR.
On top of that, I did capture a couple screenshots from the moment after I installed the last corrupt core to Wheatley!
HAHAHA; A;LKL DFSLK ;LKFD LOOK YOU’RE ON THE MOON AND THERE’S A FLAG AND I LOVE THIS GAME SO MUCH
Noooo, Wheatley, I’ll miss you. :(
Tomorrow, I’ll address the finale/credits/the whole game, and then on Wednesday, MARK PLAYS DRAGON AGE: ORIGINS STARTS OH MY GOD.
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