Portal ray tracing upgrade makes it strangely scary

Can a converter change the genre of a video game? After a few hours with outletFree ray tracing update, I’m tempted to say yes.

the original outlet On the shortlist of “Funniest Video Games Ever Made”. Released in 2007 as a spin-off of Half-Life, this first-person puzzle game has taken the humor from its original series and catapulted it from the periphery into the spotlight. You play as Chell, a humanoid lab rat, who is gradually outmatched by a malevolent AI named GLaDOS who speaks like Siri by Mitch Hedberg. You use a bit more of your wits, Chell’s physique, and a non-lethal “gun” that, instead of bullets, shoots a pair of interconnected portals. It’s as sexy as it is cartoony, best remembered for the cake meme and the closing credits to the pop song written by humorous musician Jonathan Coulton.

Gateway with RTX He is in everything but Visuals, same as the game. Same puzzles, same scenario and voice acting, same candy reference and end game style. Except it looks different. To get the most out of the latest high-end graphics cards, GPU manufacturer Nvidia has partnered outlethis publisher, Valve, to create an updated variant transformed by the magic of graphs for the time being: ray tracing.

Image: Lightspeed Studios/Nvidia via Polygon

What is ray tracing? Well, how much time do you have? If you have 20 minutes, I highly encourage you to watch this breakdown from the experts at Digital Foundry. However, if you only have a few seconds, this is the elevator pitch. Ray tracing is a vastly more realistic way to simulate light in video games. With ray tracing, you’ll see reflections and shadows, along with representations of the subtle ways light can bounce, bend, and be absorbed into materials.

Ray tracing is especially noticeable in environments where the light is most visible: wet surfaces, reflective metals, glass, and mirrors. outletThe labyrinth of industrial test chambers for ‘The Natural Fit’ is a natural fit.

In terms of making an exceptionally realistic lab, the creative team of Gateway with RTX Created a copy of outlet that prioritizes realism above all else. Assuming you can run the thing — it took an Nvidia RTX 3090 with Deep Learning Super Sampling enabled to get something close to reliable performance on a 4K TV — you’ll see a scary version of GLaDOS Lab. And I mean scary.

The player looks down at a portal in the floor in Portal.  The portal shows a view of the player from above, indicating that a second portal is placed above them somewhere.

Image: Lightspeed Studios/Nvidia via Polygon

To emphasize dynamic lighting, outletRTX Lab is darker and more choppy. Inky shadows fill every corner. Many of the surfaces now appear to be wet and dingy, as if you scraped your knee you might catch some rare bacterial infection. Electric balls bounce, casting a ghostly soft light. Not only do the walls look like sheet metal; They look like solid, heavy steel blocks. The result is an even greater degree of claustrophobia.

We’ve seen a similar effect in other classic games that have received ray tracing updates. With natural light rather than artificial light, things tend to get a little dark and spooky. But the addition of ray tracing has never veered so closely toward horror as in Gateway with RTX. In this case, it’s not just that the game is much darker – there are still plenty of fluorescent-lit rooms for sick offices. By emphasizing realism in the visuals, outletThe whole vibe of the cartoon has morphed into something far more sinister.

Valve’s video games dating back to the 2000s have an iconic blocky, sloppy, understated aesthetic that ends up complimenting the fascist art direction of first-person shooters. Whereas other AAA shooters of the era like Crysis and Call of Duty were technical pieces that prioritized raw horsepower, the Half-Life series emphasized art direction. Valve’s worlds weren’t technically impressive, but they were considered more. Appearance serves a function.

A room in Portal with its RTX update enabled.  Light reflects off an onyx-like surface to the right while the player looks at the exam room puzzle from above.

Image: Lightspeed Studios/Nvidia via Polygon

In case if outletThat job was fun and humorous. Yes, you play as a human lab rat, but success never seems out of the question. This was the closest Valve had come to making a family-friendly game, without lethal weapons or human targets. And Valve’s brooding aesthetic has defined a distinct divide between the real world and video games. GLaDOS’ increasingly spiteful monologue played out perfectly against the bland backdrop of abandoned labs.

But in these scary rooms Gateway with RTX, GLaDOS immediately looks more menacing. The big red glass buttons, companion cubes, and looming viewing rooms used to feel a little silly — but not so much anymore. Now, they are set in a company haunted house. The result is a different gaming experience outlet 15 years ago.

Gateway with RTX no outlet, not really. It’s another, alternative vision that seems a little closer to it Half life 2Ravenholm. You might find the visual upgrade unsettling, especially if you’re more of an original who likes things the way they were meant to be. oryou may be excited by revisiting outlet Through a more serious lens.

The player climbs a set of stairs in the Portal.  An orange glow coming from the bottom of the staircase is reflected off the industrial walls that coat the staircase.

Image: Lightspeed Studios/Nvidia via Polygon

Or, if you’re the kind of person obsessed with the future of video game visuals, you’ll appreciate it outletRTX’s RTX update to what it does best: Proving the importance of ray tracing. Ray tracing’s ability to dramatically change the mood of a game captures something powerful about the technology that can’t be seen in screenshots or a YouTube tech demo video.

If ray tracing can have this kind of effect on a game it was never meant to have, imagine what artists will do when they incorporate the feature from scratch.

Gateway with RTX It launches on December 8th on Windows PC and requires high-end PC hardware System properties. The game was reviewed on PC using a pre-release download code provided by Nvidia. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. you can find Additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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