Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Portal 2 Review

The original Portal was a landmark game. It seemingly came out of nowhere and started as just a side project to see just what the Source Engine was capable of. It came out as a tie in to the Half-Life 2 anthology "The Orange Box".

Shortly after releasing though, it became a phenomenon and topped many game of the year lists for 2007. The song "Still Alive" was all over YouTube and "the cake is a lie" became both an internet meme and a statement in the overall gamer dictionary and GLaDOS topped several video game villain lists.

Fast forward 4 years later to now.

The eagerly awaited sequel has come out and does it live up to the hype or is it another disappointment?

I tell you this now, eager readers, you must play this game. I'm serious, stop reading this and find a way to obtain a copy to play, hopefully through legitimate means.

This game, as of now, is my favorite game to come out this year, possibly one of my favorite games to come out in a long time.

We'll start at the most important element in any game, gameplay. How does Portal 2 play?

Short answer: If you played Portal, then absolutely nothing has changed in Portal 2. The controls are the same, the overall premise is about the same, you maneuver from room to room trying to get from Point A to Point B using your loyal Portal Gun and in most cases the environment itself.

Where it succeeds here, though, is in its execution. The puzzles are brilliantly tricky, not brain wracking, but not so simple you blow through them effortlessly. I only had one instance where I had to look for the solution, but most of the time I'd study a puzzle before I facepalmed because the exact solution was in front of me the whole time.

The whole gameplay experience is framed by a hilarious and extremely well-written story that puts most other big budget games to shame. Stephen Merchant and Ellen McLain are superb in their roles of Wheatly and GLaDOS, respectively. Wheatly is a new AI you encounter as an ally near the very beginning of the game and accompanies you as you go through the now degrading Aperature Science Facility.
However, as the song says, GLaDOS is still alive and you'll find yourself fighting for your survival in both the rebuilt Aperture Labs and descend to the very guts of the facility.

There'll be no spoilers here, but know here and now that you will eagerly solve puzzle after puzzle if only to reach the next story point.

Helping to tell the story are Portal 2's gorgeous graphics. Between the lighting and environments, there's always something to see and look at. From small signs informing you that robots are superior to humans to the rays of sunlight streaming through the crushed and cracked ceilings of Aperture Science, you'll find moments you just stop and look around, studying all aspects of the world around you.

As of this writing, I have not yet participated in the Co-Op mode of the game, so this review excludes that aspect. I will be putting up a review of that portion of the game as soon as I am able to play through it.

All in all, Portal 2 is not only a great game, but a great experience. Any gamer with any dignity needs to play this game and appreciate the great care and love that the developers poured into this product.

If I had to say one bad thing about this otherwise terrific game, it's that the loading screens are frequent and very noticeable, but you'll learn to forgive them knowing that each loading screen will bring you to yet another fun and intellectual experience.

This game gets a perfect 10 from me and I highly recommend it to anyone. I have no doubt we'll see a Portal 3 eventually, but as of this moment, Valve is near the very top of my personal developer hierarchy. Portal 2 is a value we as gamers cannot allow to pass.

So, until next time, peeps, game on and take care.

Note: Photos are taken from www.gamespot.com's Portal 2 section.


  1. After this review, in all sincerity, I think I'll actually buy this game now.

    I was on the fence about it, but with this in mind maybe I'll help you with that Co-Op so you can review it!

  2. ^_^ the game is pretty amazing, aside from the loaidng screens which i mostly had no problems which because i was too busy thinking about the next area and listening to the comments form GLaDOS and Wheatley and Cave Johnson.

  3. @ Erik: Looking forward to it. You'll have to play through the single player first since it also kind of sets up the Co-Op "storyline", plus it also gives you a lot of foundation in the new puzzle elements.

    @ Jacob: Very much agreed.