The Orange Box is finally set to release early October this year. Sure, it mostly just has Half-Life 2 games and expansions, which are great if you are a hardcore HL fan — but even then you probably already downloaded and bought them on Steam. The game that’s interesting in this box is Portal; as far as we can tell from videos, you are only armed with a portal gun. This works much like the portal technology that Human Head was working on forever, and ended up releasing a crappy, almost-racist strafing shooter. Portal strives to be a puzzle game instead of another lame shooter, an inspiration likely more adept for the technology. The portals violate euclidean space, but carry momentum — making for interesting super jumps by portaling your momentum around rooms, or even creating infinite loops by falling through the floor, to the ceiling, and back again. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the Portal video from last year.
The team behind Portal is living the dream of every young video game developer. They developed Narbacular Drop (free for download on the website) at Digipen Tech in 2004. It’s a little buggy with the camera angles and such, but an amazing puzzle game for such a small team in a school environment. Some people at Valve played it, and hired them all with a Duke Nukem Forever style funding and plan. Unlike Forever though, these guys are delivering.
The only disappointing aspect of Portal is that it looks like it won’t include more than 20 or so challenges. Maybe it will be easy to develop maps for, and other levels will be released in the future. Portal will be available on PC, 360, and PS3 as part of The Orange Box for $50USD.