GDC 11: Portal 2 Live, Powered by Razer’s Sixense Motion Control
The anticipation for Portal 2 is building to a fever pitch, and with the game only a little more than a month away, the time was ripe for it to be shown off. Unfortunately, no playable demo was offered at GDC. The game appeared as part of a tech demo at the Razr booth, where the peripheral manufacturer was promoting their forthcoming Razer Sixense Motion Control system.
Set on a shelf in front of the display, the Sixense device was composed of a central hub (shaped like a disc, with an inky black “eye” structure growing out of it) and two Wiimote-style controllers, connected to the hub by thin wires. Though wireless controllers have been the rage for years, Razer hopes to corner the market on motion control for hardcore gamers, particular those who demand the kind of pinpoint accuracy that the Wii and Move are currently not able to deliver. Having a hardline connection to the main Sixense peripheral will increase fidelity and, by extension, competitive success.
The representatives at the booth were veritable wizards with these twin Sixense wands, and they played through the demo section Valve had selected with considerable aplomb, so much so that it was hard to judge how well the Sixense would work in the hands of an amatuer. In some ways, however, Razer chose poorly — everyone at the demo was transfixed by Portal 2. Put simply, the game looks like it will be as big a sensation when it arrives as the original Portal was, despite the fact that people already know what to expect this time around. The game’s developers have taken their sweet time, but the wait appears well worth it. The environments are gorgeous. The mechanics promise even more limitless possibility. The gameplay looks both simple and infinitely complicated.
Two new mechanics were eye-catching, and both involved augmented forms of the familiar companion cube. One form was transformable, able to stretch along any of its three axes, and the demonstrators wielded their Sixense controllers like a Photoshop master would his mouse, first stretching a cube into a long, flat plank and using it to bridge a gap. Next, a cube was expanded in size, by expanding it in all three directions (gleefully violating the law of conservation of mass) then dropped through a plate-glass floor to unlock a new area. Somewhere, 18th-century scientific genius Antoine Lavoisier was turning over in his grave.
The other form we saw is called the Redirection Cube — studded with mirrors, it enables you to direct turret laser beams and use them to your advantage. The demo concluded with a neat little section in which the developers combined Portal technology and the Gravity Gun to probe through a portal with a redirection cube and bounce a laser beam of death around a barrier and down onto a number of hostile turrets. See for yourself, and check out the Sixense controller in action at the end of the video included below.
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