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What is the Portal Series?

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Portal's standalone box art cover.

Portal is a single-player puzzle-platformer developed by Valve Corporation. The game was released in a bundle package called The Orange Box for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 on October 9, 2007, and for the PlayStation 3 on December 11, 2007. The Windows version of the game is also available for download separately through Valve's content delivery system Steam and was released as a standalone retail product on April 9, 2008. A stand-alone version called Portal: Still Alive was released on the Xbox Live Arcade service on October 22, 2008; this version includes an additional fourteen puzzles. A Mac OS X version was released as part of the Mac-compatible Steam platform on May 12, 2010.

Portal was acclaimed as one of the most original games of 2007, despite being considered short in length. The game received praise for its unique gameplay and darkly humorous story, created with the assistance of Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek of Old Man Murray fame. It also received acclaim for the character of GLaDOS, voiced by Ellen McLain in the English-language version, and the final credits song "Still Alive" written by Jonathan Coulton for the game.


Portal 2

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Portal 2 box-art cover

The sequel to the 2007 video game Portal, it was announced on March 5, 2010, following a week-long alternate reality game based on new patches to the original game. Though initially slated for release in the fourth quarter of 2010, the game was postponed to the week of April 18, 2011. The game was released by Valve through Steam for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, while the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and retail Windows/OS X versions of the game are distributed by Electronic Arts. The game's release on Steam was preceded by a second multi-week alternate reality game, the Potato Sack, involving 13 independently-developed titles which culminated in a distributed computing spoof to release Portal 2 several hours early. Like Portal, Portal 2 primarily comprises a series of puzzles that must be solved by teleporting the player's character and simple objects using the "portal gun", a device that can create inter-spatial portals between two flat planes. The game's unique physics allow momentum to be retained through these portals, and requires the creative use of portals to maneuver through the game's challenges. Most gameplay elements of the original Portal were retained in the sequel, but many elements were added to Portal 2, including tractor beams, laser redirection, and paint-like gels that impart special properties to objects they cover.

Though many reviewers were concerned about the difficulty of expanding Portal into a full sequel, critics universally praised Portal 2. The game's writing, pacing, and black humor were highlighted as stand-out elements, with critics applauding the voice work of McLain, Merchant, and Simmons. Reviews also highlighted the new gameplay elements, the game's challenging but surmountable learning curve, and the additional co-operative mode.

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