Valve released The Orange Box last year to much enthusiasm...ok I was I excited. It was a bundled package of 5 games, one of which was a unique puzzle-shooter called Portal. The timeline looks to run parallel to the Half-Life universe. It takes place at the Aperture Science labs (a smaller competitor to the Black Mesa labs, which was the progenitor setting of the Half-Life series). In fact, later levels allow the player to look in abandoned conference rooms where slideshow presentations are still looping comparing Aperture grants to Black Mesa's. Pretty funny.
The game involves the player using brains to solve non-linear 'puzzles' by using a 'portal gun' which allows the player to manifest the equivalent of a wormhole (or tesseract, for all us Madeleine L'Engle fans) on a certain surface thus allowing the player to move through walls and other applicable surfaces.
The player is apparently held captive in Aperture Science by a bland computer, GLaDOS, who's later revealed to have a much larger (and sinister) role in the game. She's maniacal, twisted, conniving, and funny. If she wasn't trying to kill you, you'd want to hang out more.
"Good news. I figured out what that thing you just incinerated did. It was a morality core they installed after I flooded the enrichment center with a deadly neurotoxin to make me stop flooding the enrichment center with a deadly neurotoxin. So get comfortable, while I warm up the neurotoxin emitters."I don't want to spoil it, but I will say that you kill your companion cube and the cake is a lie.
The end credits feature a song written by Jonathan Coulton. The song is called 'Still Alive', and is sung by Ellen McLain (check out her interview by IGN), who voices GLaDOS and other Half-Life 'overseer' type characters.
The latter part of the tune made me think of some folks who are 'doing science and still alive'...Benny, Brown, Dysard, and Shags...you know who you are.