An Insider's Guide to Portal 2

Today's Game Informer cover unveiling is just the latest in a year and a half's worth of Portal 2 news that has been steadily leaking about the Valve game since 2008.

The cover hints at a chance to leave the labs, and GLaDOS, behind, but we've known plenty more than that for quite awhile. Be warned, if you proceed through our Insider's Guide to Portal 2 surprises, plot-lines, characters will be SPOILED.

An Insider's Guide to Portal 2

Cave Johnson, the boss of Aperture who was dead in Portal, will be the principle antagonist of this sequel. How? We'll get to that.

In the game, Johnson, described as an amiable self-made billionaire who refuses to accept the responsibility of his power, starts off as a sort of sidekick to the player but then he starts to lose his grip on humanity as the story progresses. According to an open casting call we received in 2008, at some point in the game, after Johnson has isolated himself from the people around him and lost touch with reality, he becomes the main bad guy.

But how does a dead man get a leading role in Portal 2? Enter our second major Portal 2 scoop of 2008: leaked script samples.

Turns out that Johnson will be portrayed in the game as a simulated computer version of himself. Resurrected inside a computer, Johnson will urge the player to continue testing as he discusses his take on the afterlife.

We also get a bit of insight into Johnson through this week's Valve update of Portal which included plenty of buried hints all of which led to some fantastic quotes from Johnson:

"Science isn't about why, it's about why not. You ask: Why is so much of our science dangerous? I say: Why not marry safe science if you love it so much. In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired."

"Plus, in the event of your death, I personally guarantee that, thanks to the form you were required to sign this morning, your family will not suffer the indignities of a prolonged and costly legal battle against Aperture Science. Trust me, I am rich, and it is a burden I would not wish on anyone."

An Insider's Guide to Portal 2

So we've got an unhinged, disembodied billionaire acting as friend and protagonist. We've got all of the tech of Aperture Science, like that spiffy Portal gun and maybe some new toys. And what else?

Well, for starters, Portal 2 will introduce a cooperative multiplayer mode with an "entirely separate campaign with a unique story, test chambers, and two new player characters," according to a product description from Gamestop. The online retailer also lists the title as a standalone game priced at $49.99 for PC and $59.99 for Xbox 360, which may or may not be placeholder (just like that Mac logo on the PC version's box art.)

The final piece of the puzzle may be revealed on the Game Informer cover, which seems to hint at the possibility of the game leaving the stark confines of the lab and going abroad.

So when is this dark comedy coming out? This coming holiday season, according to Steam's announcement today, just like Plunkett guessed in 2008.

One final clue. There were certain letters underlined in the official Portal 2 announcement. Here are the underlined letters, and one number: drattmannh0nee. That's the latest log in for the Portal 2 BBS (drattman / h0nee), spitting out more ASCII art and text file madness.

What now?