Portal 2 isn’t just a sequel to a cult first-person puzzle game. It could also be a major step towards a world where the platform you use to play a game matters less than the game itself. The long-awaited Portal 2, which pits players in a physics-based game against (what is assumed to be) the cheerfully homicidal GLaDOS artificial intelligence, will be released on April 19.
The new title from Valve Software brings the firm’s Steam service to the PlayStation 3 for the first time, albeit in a limited form. Using a Steam Overlay for the console, PS3 owners will be able to play cooperative multiplayer matches with PC and Mac gamers on the Steam service, as well as chat to them using voice and text.
Steam, however, evolved into an application management system, allowing background updates of games registered with the Steam service to be downloaded and updated. Other developers signed on, and Steam now is one of the leading means of electronic distribution of software on the PC. Steam also allows users to transfer content from PC to PC and even allows saved games to be stored in the cloud, as the Steam Cloud tied to Portal 2 does.
In February, Valve suggested that it was working on a “big picture” mode for Steam, which is designed at bringing the app to television. The service hit the Mac last year, and AMD has even used it to distribute drivers.
Although Sony and Valve described how Steam will work in a blog post, a FAQ on the SteamPowered site goes into much more detail.
To take advantage of the Steam features, users need to link their PlayStation Network (PSN) account to Steam, either by selecting a new Steam account or using an established one.
Users won’t need to do anything special to access Steam via the Portal 2 game for the PS3; instead, all a user needs to do is to press the “Select” button on the PS3 controller. The overlay will allow users to play cross-platform with their friends who have a copy of the game for the PC; plus redeem downloadable content registered to the PC or Mac, view achievements, news, and friend profiles.
To access Steam Cloud (the saved games) users will need to press the “TRIANGLE” button from the save/load screen, then select the number of saves to back up.
There’s also an additional bonus: bundled with the PS3 version of the game is a code to play Portal 2 on a PC. While that will allow users to play Portal 2 on their PC, the additional copy can’t be used to play in cooperative mode with the PS3 player, Valve said.