Portal 2 gets release date

Half-Life creator Valve has finally revealed the release date for the brainteasing sequel to its first person puzzler Portal.

The renowned game developer unveiled the official date at the Gamescom show in Germany, saying Portal 2 is currently lined up to meet the public on 11 February 2011.

Valve also revealed a few other interesting titbits about the game, including the fact that Ricky Gervais' sidekick Stephen Merchant will be providing some of the voice-over talent. Merchant's distinctive West Country tones will apparently voice a character called "Buddy Sphere" Wheatley.

We have no idea what sort of a character this Buddy Sphere will be, but we're sure Merchant's friendly voice will make a pleasant break from the mocking sarcasm of GlaDOS in the first game. All we need now is for the main character to be voiced by Karl Pilkington, fittingly expressing the confused bewilderment experienced by the player.

Portal 2 will also be released as an independent title in its own right, showing that the game concept has now moved well beyond the experimental arty farty stage. The original Portal game was originally bundled with Half-Life 2 Episode 2 and Team Fortress 2 in Valve's The Orange Box and Black Box compilations.

On the downside, there's apparently still no news about Half-Life 2 Episode 3, which is pretty rubbish considering the first episode came out over four years ago now. Wasn't the whole episodic gaming strategy supposed to result in a quicker release schedule for games? Bah!