Monday, October 15, 2007

New computer, plus Orange Box

I bought a new computer last week. Sort of. I bought a barebones kit, a CPU, and 2 jiggs of RAM, then cannibalized my old (and dead) system to complete it. So now I'm running a 2.4GHz AMD Duo-Core, instead of my 3.2GHz Pentium 4. This new system is much more stable, so far. It runs Half-Life 2 like a champ, which is almost exclusively the reason I upgraded. It's also so I can work on art stuff without worrying about a crash (no comments from the Mengs, please).

I have now played through all of Half-Life 2: Episode 2, most of Portal, and a little bit of Team Fortress 2. They're all pretty rad. I enjoyed Episode 2 quite a bit. Unlike Episode 1, this one really offers a lot of new stuff: new environments, new enemies, new vehicle, new characters, and great continuation of the story-line. And some really epic battles, especially against the Striders at the end. Holy cow.

Portal is tripping me out. If you've seen any of the videos, you know what I mean. For those that don't, here's the gist: you have a portal creating device that lets you place two, well, doorways, basically, on almost any flat surface. The doorways (portals) connect. So, if I'm in a room, and the exit is on top of a tall platform that I cannot reach by foot, I simply create a portal on the ceiling above the tall platform, and then create another portal on the wall next to me. I walk through the portal and am now on top of the platform. The trippy thing is that you can see through the portals. They're not just a weird swirl of sparkles. If you place two portals on opposite sides of a room, you get the infinite-mirror effect. You can also see your own back. If you create a portal on the ceiling directly above a portal on the floor, you can drop through the one on the floor and fall infinitely.

The team that created Portal then applied these ideas to some really inventive puzzles. For example, say there's (again) a really high platform you need to get to, on the opposite side of a chasm, and you can't place a portal anywhere near the platform you need to get to. Well, you could place a portal on the ground at the bottom of the chasm, then place a portal on the wall behind you (that faces the platform across the way). Then, you jump off the cliff and through the portal on the ground, and your momentum flings you through the portal on the wall and waaaaay over to the platform. And that's a basic puzzle.

Team Fortress 2 is really fun so far, but I've only played for about 1/2 an hour. The look is wonderful, though. Highly stylized, and many people have accurately described it as Pixar-ish. Look up the class videos for some funny stuff.


Nobody said...

Portal is tripping me out just reading about it! Unfotunately it has a few similarities to a "high concept action movie" premise I've been ruminating for a while...

I don't think I should buy the game though since I'm terrible at puzzles like that. Sounds fun though! My Christmas visit is going to be longer than last time so maybe you can show it to me.

Ryan said...

I'd love to. Last night I set to beating it, only to discover a wonderful twist and an actual storyline! I'm blown away. It's really creepy and cool.