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Hazardous testing element
The crusher, also known as the masher, is a testing element with the sole purpose of killing or destroying Test Subjects.
Crushers consist of a thick spiked plate and an optional driving mechanism in the form of one or more pistons, a robotic arm, or a combination of both. In the single-player campaign, only dynamic crushers are encountered and any contact with them results in immediate death. In addition to those, the co-op mode also includes stationary spiked plates, which either deal 2.5 points of damage every 0.5 second (10 points of damage if the subject is pressed into them via an Excursion Funnel) or destroy their victim instantly.
Crushers can first be spotted in the single-player campaign chapter The Courtesy Call, during the fall from the Central AI Chamber to the Incinerator Room after GLaDOS was reawakened; they appear to serve as defective product smashers.
They are then formally introduced by Wheatley, after he assumes power in the Enrichment Center, in a death trap against Chell and GLaDOS. He claims to invent them after deciding that flat steel plates weren't deadly enough; he notes that he would like them to eventually shoot fire moments before crushing their victim. After the duo escapes the first death trap, Wheatley repeatedly attempts to use crushers to kill them, and even tries to persuade Chell to jump into one located at the end of a conveyor belt.
Only a single crusher is encountered in the Art Therapy Testing Course. It unexpectedly smashes into the floor in front of ATLAS and P-body at the beginning of Test Chamber 01 while GLaDOS comments on its artistic value.
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Behind the scenes
Although it was not originally named, a moving ceiling with spikes was demonstrated in the earliest Portal trailer. It can also be seen in Portal: The Flash Version, remade by fans for Portal as Portal: The Flash Version MapPack. The first official title in which it is included, and in which its name is revealed, is Portal: Still Alive as it features some maps from The Flash Version MapPack.
In Portal 2's commentary, Cayle George stated that there were to be several levels utilizing crushers in ways that made the test chambers more dangerous. After showing some of these levels in press demos, Valve got feedback that viewers were getting the impression that Portal 2 was going to be too difficult since players would have to time events such as running or falling through a portal with not getting hit by a deadly crusher. The team decided to save these for the escape, when Wheatley tries to hold the player off.
According to Kutta Srinivasan, one of Wheatley's planned attacks during the final battle was to involve crushers. It wasn't implemented as it proved too punishing – players were focused on what Wheatley was doing and would often get hit by a crusher they weren't looking at. Crushers can be seen in the concept art for the final battle and in a diagram by the boss fight's designer Phil Co.
As stated by Andrea Wicklund, the co-op mode was to include an elaborate death animation for the crusher, showing its victim being slowly crushed under it. It proved to be too repetitive and therefore punishing and preventing players from taking risks, so the developers decided to work on creating a quick but nevertheless satisfying animation instead.
An unused icon for the crusher can be found in Perpetual Testing Initiative game files.
Portal: Still Alive
Chamber full of crushers, concept from The Final Hours of Portal 2.
ATLAS and P-body facing crushers and lasers in the Portal 2 co-op trailer.
A crusher gauntlet in the cooperative campaign testing course, Mass and Velocity.
List of appearances
- Portal: Still Alive (First appearance) (Non-canonical appearance)
- Lego Dimensions (Non-canonical appearance)
- Portal 2 Collector's Edition Guide, page 11
- Portal 2 commentary