Portal was arguably one of the most surprising things to come out of The Orange Box. I mean we all knew Half-Life 2 was going to be good, but no-one was really prepared for just how stunningly inventive and utterly captivating Valve's little mind-bending puzzler would be. The few videos from E3 were enough to send even the most casual of fans into a flurry of forum debate and we got to see a little bit more at Gamescom.
First of all, Wheatley, the comically-English hovering sphere that serves as something of a sidekick during the continuing adventures of Chell, is now voiced by Stephen Merchant. As we meet him he's cracking up because he's been incorrectly informed that turning on his own flashlight would kill him, after realising that's not true he calms down and floats along merrily beside you, insulting you accidentally one moment and endearingly apologising the next. Frankly, it's good to see his West Country burr being put to better use than advertising Barclays.
GLaDOS is back...and she's a little narked that you tried to kill her. Just as gloriously sinister and childish as before, she figures that you're actually the same...except you managed to kill her and she needs to return the favour. Cue a whole new array of perils to navigate, only this time you won't just have the Portal Gun and the Companion Cube to help you out.
This video was all about the goo, of which there are two types we saw in Portal 2: red and blue. The latter - Repulsion - is useful for bouncing around. Redirect one of the streams that come pouring from the walls and ceiling onto a surface and it immediately becomes springy which ,as the video demonstrated, is useful for dropping sentry guns onto and sending them flying.
The red goo - Propulsion - does exactly what it says on the tin: it makes you go faster. When combined with portals this means you can jump further, harder and faster but it's also useful for evading things too. The demonstration zipped Chell around a bit on the level with the red goo, eventually having her propelled over a ramp, across a gap, onto a portal, only to come flying out the other end and racing through a bunch of clashing spike panels. It can get pretty intricate.
Things are compounded by the Excursion Funnel, a tractor beam that can be shimmied around with the Portal Gun to best serve your needs and used to direct the two types goo exactly where you want them. These three additions alone will be enough to cause some serious head-scratching and, inevitably hilarious, cases of trial and error.
There were several moments that made me chuckle - hearing Stephen Merchant yelp 'Don't panic!...The most important thing is not to panic!' brought out several chuckles as did GLaDOS' typically obvious passive-aggressive tendencies - and the potential for mixing and matching the new elements, particularly in the rooms we saw, is surely going to make for some fiendishly good puzzling.