Aperture Science might be trying to tell us something.

We’re less than two months away from the planned April 20th release date of the sequel to Valve’s beloved Portal, which means that it’s time to start seeing some leaked information (or, if you prefer, “leaked” information). Xbox360achievements obtained the full achievement list for the Xbox 360 version of the game, and while most of them are what we’ve come to expect from Valve (yes, there is one called “Still Alive”) one in particular has the rumor mill abuzz about how Portal 2 might tie into the long, long, long-awaited Half-Life 2: Episode 3.

The achievement in question is called “Ship Overboard,” with the requirement: “Discover the missing experiment.” It doesn’t sound like much, right? However, fans of the Half-Life series will likely immediately make the connection with the Borealis, an Aperture Science research vessel supposedly carrying dangerous and experimental cargo. Trying to beat Gordon Freeman’s Black Mesa laboratory to the punch, Aperture ignored safety protocols – and Borealis vanished along with all hands.

The discovery of the Borealis in an undisclosed Arctic climate was a major plot point in Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (watch the scene here, in case you need a refresher), with Dr. Kleiner hypothesizing that the ship’s experimental cargo could be humanity’s key weapon in the struggle against the Combine.

Oh, and the Borealis was also a prominent part of the very first Episode 3 teaser art from five bajillion years ago. There’s that, too.

So what could this all mean? Not unexpectedly, Valve fans have already warmed up the discussion engine quite well enough on their own. The sticking point is that Portal 2 is set over a century after the events of the first game, which was itself set well after the Black Mesa incident from the original Half-Life. Even if Chell could find the Borealis, what secrets could it possibly hold?

That is, unless the secret is time travel. Which would be pretty monumental, now that I think about it.

Of course, this could also just be Valve yanking everybody’s collective chain as the Half-Life 2: Episode 3 team uses their cut of the Steam fortune to hold donuts-and-beer parties, while snickering to themselves at how everybody actually thinks that they’re actually working on the game. Can’t rule that out, no sirree.

(via Joystiq)

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