Stolen Pixels #179: Breen Interviews Chell

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Mar 23, 2010

Filed under: Column 42 comments

I have crafted another one of those web-comic dealies, and I offer it here for your perusal.

It’s not often I get genuinely excited about a sequel. I am excited about Portal. To my shame, my enthusiasm comes from screenshot preview hype mag Game Informer, which I usually regard as little more than a catalog. Please understand that I usually know better than to be swayed by anything the magazine has to say. I mean, they hand it out for free. At Gamestop. This is not a place you should turn if you want a clear-headed critical opinion on a game. Or anything else.

But the Portal 2 article found a gap in my armor of distrust and cynicism. I read it all the way through. On purpose, and without irony. And now I want the game.

It’s going to be a long year.

(Right here is a good place for a paragraph asking about Half-Life 2: Episode 3, but I just don’t have it in me today.)


From The Archives:

42 thoughts on “Stolen Pixels #179: Breen Interviews Chell

  1. Samuel Erikson says:

    I don’t know what this does for the ending (I’ve only just finished up the first couple planets), but the is a mod that restores most of the cut content to KotOR II:

    1. Zukhramm says:

      I hope it doesn’t change the ending, I actually like the ending in the game.

      1. Nixorbo says:

        You mean the stopping point, not the ending. KotOR2 didn’t end, it stopped.

    2. Klay F. says:

      I hope you realize it doesn’t actually restore ALL of the cut content right? There were a few novels worth of dialog that was cut before it could be voice acted. The droid planet wasn’t even half done before the game was booted out the door. That means unfinished textures, meshes, scripts, characters that were planned then scrapped. A ton of the cut content is unrestorable because we have no idea what the designers had in mind.

      Thats completely beside the fact that all that was cut was rendered non-canon by Lucas’ mighty ban-hammer.

      1. Samuel Erikson says:

        I’m well aware of that, though there are others that are working on recreating some of the other content.
        (An aside: I wonder if the other dialogue could be restored despite the lack of voice over. I tend to play with the sound off, and find most of the voices to be mediocre anyway.)

        As for Lucas’ banhammer, it means sweet f-all to me. The new trilogy managed to destroy my interest in all of the canon, parallel or otherwise, with the exception of the two KotOR games* and, on rare occasions, the original trilogy (tabletop games aren’t part of either canon, and as such still hold some interest). I say this as someone who used to read all the books I could get my hands on.

        *Not to say anything against the other games, they just tend not to tickle my fancy.

  2. Nick Bell says:

    See Samuel’s comment for what I was going to say about KOTOR 2.

    As for Portal’s ending, I do not believe they actually cut anything out. They simply added more stuff at the end. Thus it wouldn’t be a retcon. It is simply an expansion of the original. Which is pretty normal for sequels. It is just unusual in that they did it at the end of the first game, rather than doing it at the very beginning of the second.

    1. BaCoN says:

      Yeah, it seems less like an “altering” of the ending, as much as it does a “clarification”. We all KNEW there was going to be a Portal 2, obviously, but we weren’t sure how it was going to be set. Was it going to be a new Aperture or Black Mesa facility, with a new test subject? Was it going to be Chell constantly running from GlaDOS?

      But now we can be fairly sure that it’s another Aperture facility(that was the voice of their Aperture’s CEO AI, I believe), and that it will, indeed, feature Chell.

      That kinda blasts my hopes that Chell was going to have at least a little part in Episode 3.

      1. Jabor says:

        Perhaps Portal 2 is Episode 3…

      2. Someone says:

        I think the new ending (and the hypestorm) is more of a reassurance that Valve makes something besides zombie shooters these days. Now if only we could get a new ending for ep2 where Eli survives…

  3. LOLdependent says:

    I don’t really get the joke.I’m sorry.Is it about the fact that she doesn’t speak?

    1. Shamus says:

      It’s sort of an odd half-joke, so you’re not missing much. Breen himself was the main Villain of Half-Life 2. He was killed, and I hope nobody expects spoiler tags around something so obvious from a six year old game. Anyway, the real joke (such as it is) is that Valve brought back a villain, and it wasn’t him.

      1. Thane Walkup says:

        Also, Breen’s condition (living/dead/transformed) is very much up in the air – between events in HL2 Ep 1 and what happens at the end of HL2 to his energy ball/transport (watch where it goes after you destroy the portal) there’s a strong possibility we’ll be seeing him in Ep3.

        Admittedly, he might not look like himself…

      2. krellen says:

        Strictly speaking, the original “canon” ending of Portal revealed that GlaDOS wasn’t really dead anyway (fade out on a room full of spare modules all coming on line and the cake that wasn’t a lie). So they didn’t really bring back a villain in a retcon.

        Unless we’re talking about someone other than GlaDOS.

      3. ps238principal says:

        I bet Breen isn’t dead. He was on the line to one of those Overseer things about a “host body,” so I’m betting they bring him back as some kind of Combine boss monster. Or at least, you see some horror on a video screen that now contains his mind.

    2. Drexer says:

      It also makes more sense if you have read Shamus’ previous Stolen Pixels, specifically this one.

  4. randy says:

    Have they changed the ending?. I’d say they haven’t changed anything, they’ve just shown more of it.

  5. Meredith says:

    I love Chell’s expression in panel 3, the perfect mix of wtf and I hate you.

    I was wondering if you were ever going to mention Portal 2 and the hype storm. I got embarrassingly sucked into watching the ARG unfold, but now I’m not sure about the game. I’ll pre-order and load it on Steam, obviously, but I’m a little afraid they might be overreaching the premise this time.

    Also, Glados was still very much alive after the original ending of Portal. :p

  6. GoodApprentice says:

    The ending is changed in a broad sense.

    Old ending – Chell escapes.
    New ending – Chell does not escape.

    Sounds like a different ending to me…

    1. Vladius says:

      When did she escape? She probably shattered a lot of bones just falling onto the pavement from that massive explosion. I thought that the implication was that she blacked out… they’re just showing what happens after that time, now.

    2. ps238principal says:

      They never really told you if Chell was alive, dying, or dead at the end. From an FPS point of view, when all you can see is stuff at ground level and you can’t move, you’re usually kaput.

  7. Factoid says:

    The only other game that comes to mind where they appended the ending like in Portal would be Army of Two.

    Now I wouldn’t actually know this first hand because that game was so bad as to be unplayable…but I read about it. I guess it ends in a crappy not-even-cliffhanger type ending and they slap a proper boss fight and conclusion onto it.

    I was completely unaware of the whole new ending for Portal. Time to go check out some youtube videos….or I guess I could just play through it again…not like it would take more than about an hour.

    EDIT: Also they were pretty clear at the end of portal that GLaDOS was “Still Alive” so it wasn’t much of a stretch to bring the villain back.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Also they did change the ending of half life 2 in the first episode,but that wasnt a patch.And this isnt that big of a change anyway.

  9. Vladius says:

    But…but… I like Game Informer… :(

    1. Another Scott says:

      You could argue back that The Escapist is also a kind of magazine you get for free…

  10. Oh wow, that ending update is actually way different with my speakers turned on. Initially I thought Chell was crawling away on her back. I only watched it again when some of the comments here confused me.

    I’ve also been known to peruse bad gaming magazines and sites for game news. Sometimes I just need to know everything about an upcoming game. It’s ok, Shamus, you aren’t the only bad person.

  11. Yeah. Shamus, can you clarify? What villain do you think was being resurrected by the extended ending?

    I will say that I don’t like the extension. If this happened at the beginning of a new game, I wouldn’t mind. But this really changes the entire atmosphere at the end: Instead of a feeling of triumph at escaping into a world of blue skies and green trees (which is then brilliantly undercut by the dark irony of “Still Alive”) you instead have a “from one prison to another” story line. This destroys the beauty of the original ending and severely dilapidates the effectiveness of “Still Alive” for new players.

    Greedo shooting first is pretty bad. This is worse. And since the game is Steam-based is there any way to avoid this patch? Or is DRM literally forcing Lucas-like alterations down our throats?

    1. Shamus says:

      Well, GlaDOS was apparently “killed”, but then we saw her supply of backup cores at the end. Then we got the “still alive” song.

      So I was surprised that we were getting the old GlaDOS back with her old memories, and not “GladDOS II” or “GlasDOS 95, Home Edition” or whatever.

      1. SolkaTruesilver says:

        I always liked the idea that GLaDOS was some sort of self-evolutive AI that could reprogram itself at will, which would result in sort sort of schizophrenic/multiple personality disorder.

        So, she has a new version of herself at every few seconds based on the situation that occurs for her. Much like if somebody was able to edit the way they think at every second. Ex:

        From your mind x, you wish to become mind F(x). F(x) = y
        But from mind y, you wish to become F(y). F(y) = z


        So you are never in a stable mental condition, as “you” change yourself every other moment.

        So.. you are talking to GLaDOS one second and then you are talking to GLaDOS, and then GLaDOS

  12. Hal says:

    Was it really necessary to alter that ending? I feel like the only thing this does is stoke the fires for Portal 2. Not that it’s not effective or anything, but all they would have to do is put out a press release saying nothing but, “Portal 2: 2011,” and it would be just as effective.

    On another note, I wanted to post this here because I’m not sure how else to share it, and I think you’ll find it hysterical:

    You awaken in Razor Hill

    It’s old, so perhaps I’m the last person on the planet to see this. Basically, someone on the WoW forums did an “interatctive” text adventure that seems to have combined WoW, Silent Hill, and any old text adventure game. The poster named Dusk plays the role of the game, with people on the forums giving directions for the protagonist to follow out. I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time.

    1. krellen says:

      This story has changed my life.

      I now know there is no problem in this world that cannot be solved by launching sharks at it.

  13. Neil Polenske says:

    To be fair to Game Informer, they’re where they first heard about Brutal Legend. That’s…pretty much the only thing I can say about ’em cause I’ve never read another one since.

  14. RudeMorgue says:

    1) GlaDOS was Still Alive. Believe me.
    2) The voice of the character dragging Chell away in the appended five seconds or so of ending is not GlaDOS anyway, it’s a security robot of some sort, which is only now catching up to her, having been dispatched immediately after her escape from the furnace. (“Assume the party submission position,” I believe is what GlaDOS advises).

    I had always interpreted the original ending as tragicomedy, with Chell escaping from Aperture only to be mortally wounded at the end, which she apparently is until this new voice appears to drag her off to the sequel.

    1. Sean Riley says:

      Yeah. I admit, I’m amazed how differently people interpreted the original ending to me. My thought was similar to yours, a blackly comic ending with Chelle’s escape being at the expense of her life. The new ending actually brought a glimmer of hope.

  15. Greg from St Paul says:

    “Yes sir.”

    I laughed.

  16. Wonderduck says:

    Unless I’m mistaken, there was a little game called Fallout 3 that kinda changed the ending with some DLC… does that count as a patch?

    1. D says:

      Yay! I am not the first person to show up and go ‘uh, I think Fallout 3 did that.’ Also, it seems like surely this wouldn’t be the first time for a sequel (which is different than a patch? or do I misunderstand what Portal is experiencing?) to revise or expand upon the ending of its predecessor to create canonical continuity?

    2. acronix says:

      Remember that in Fallout 3 you became a pile of goo (they even put an image shwoing that). Then in Broken Steel they retconned it into you being just unconciouss. I´m quite sure they even still show you the goo image when you finish the original plot. Which basically means you were an unconciouss goo. That´s almost as brutal as a Marvel retcon, if you ask me.

      So, Portal´s ending remake is more like adding something, more than changing it completely.

  17. evileeyore says:

    On Villian’s Returning:

    I kinda got the impression Chell wasn’t going to survive the landing at the end, what with the fade to black… and I knew GlaDOS wasn’t dead at the end… so…

    I took Breen’s statement as though Chell were the Villian and Breen was congratulating her on successfully getting a reboot. Ala, Dr. Breen was having a Villiany Confusion Moment. It also fit Chell’s expression so perfectly.

    1. Drexer says:

      I also thought of this comics immediately afterwards.

      That kinda gives a more morbid outlook into the whole After Curfew Breen’s desperate talk to come back into the spotlight…

      1. Nick Bell says:

        I was coming here to post the news as well. Definitely sad.

    2. Conlaen says:

      I just found out on RPS. First thing I did was send a msg to Shamus. Would have hated it had he missed this news.

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