Portal 2 Review
Well now you’re thinkin’! It’s a Portal 2 review, guys! And let me start off by saying it is one of the most amazing games I’ve played in a LONG time. For those who are somehow unaware, the game Portal follows a female protagonist named Chell who in the first game we learn is trapped in some sort of abandoned research facility that tests “portal guns”; ie, a device that creates connecting portals. The game is a puzzle type where you get from point A to B… but that doesn’t nearly do it justice. Portal is insanely cleaver and complex in its’ puzzles and with the addition of Steam Workshop, there’s almost no end to the things you can do. Anyways, back to the story… In the first, you’re trying to defeat “Glados” a smarmy little minx of a robot that tries to thwart Chell at every turn. In the second, you wake up yet again in the Aperture Science Test Facility… but with a little robot friend! You have great little adventures together and stuff eventually happens and it’s just… it’s all just great! You’ll never want it to be over!
Gameplay / Control
Control couldn’t be simpler… Well… That is to say… Until you try to do some fancy double jump with changing out the portal placements and you shoot the wrong one and end up faceplanting into some spikes. This is probably one of top reasons for the major success of the series; having relatively simple controls and interface with the world in a highly complicated manner. Think Mario with having to finesse through tough stages that require lots of timing and accuracy. I firmly believe that’s a recipe for awesomeness! Otherwise, the rest of the controls are tight and even the multiplayer stuff (like flagging targets, POV, and other “communications”) works very fluidly.
Gameplay-wise… what can I say? It’s spot on! The flow and action is flawless. And when the action settles down a bit, there’s always a sassy little comment to be said by Glados at your expense. I think I’ll probably over use the term “top notch” in this review, but few other games are deserving of such a title.
Replayability / Interest
Replay value for the first one was, well, kinda meh. It was a short little side adventure added to the Orange Box and while the antics and puzzles were a blast, once you finished the game you didn’t really have much else to do. You could pick it up again for sure, but I doubt many would make it through a second playthrough.
Now, Portal 2 is the polar opposite. The story mode is pretty long and emotionally intense, so there might not be too many second playthroughs in that… but… Then they added multiplayer! An AMAZING coop experience with Bert-bot and Ernie-bot! This goes on for a few hours and some of it you could play again… but that’s not even the best part. They added Steam Workshop, which is a fancy way of saying “easy to download and install mods/maps”. With this Workshop, you can just “subscribe” to any map or mod you want and Steam does all the work for you! No figuring out folders or drivers or any jive like that. So basically… there’s an infinite amount of maps to play either solo or in coop. Well, maybe not infinite, but you get the idea. Oh, and it’s all free too! Even the map editor!
I don’t think I really need to dwell on the interest aspect of this. I doubt there will be many folks on the fence about this game, since you’ll instantly know if you like it. The story is sound, pacing well planed, and learning curve masterfully implemented, so even the most ADHD of gamers will have a hard time putting this one down. Ooo! Something shiny….
Another category with high marks! When this came out, it was so bizarre and revolutionary that it became an instant classic. The amount of thought and polish with this game shows through in every crevasse you dare try and sneer at.
Also… There’s a big thing I’ve pushed in the past with my comics, and that’s the argument over games being a form of art or not. Well my friends, when that guy on Fox or the idiot down the street tries to claim interactive media is not a legitimate form of artistic expression, you can pull out the big guns! Portal/Portal2 is not just visually fantastic, but it shows that you can tell an entire story though action and strong support characters. It forces the player to be a problem solver and sometimes look for solutions “outside the box”. And it engages the player so deeply, you will feel torn up and emotionally exhausted by the time the ending credits roll.
Well boy howdy, looky there! Tell a story, convey emotion, visually express an idea, and makes the viewer think? Sounds a whole lot like art to me!
The style is mostly bleak…. bleak bleak bleak! You really feel trapped, like a rat in a laboratory experiment. And when you thought you might go insane from being locked up in some sort of asylum, you meet the support characters. Glados with her sassy backtalk, Wheatly with his bumbling English antics, and even the ever lovable turrets. No no, turrets, I’m not still here… Heck, even the famous companion cube makes a cameo. The whole artistic theme of it just really fits.
Oh, and when you get about half way through and go to the “old” 1950s-esque Aperture Testing Facility, you can really see the brass at Valve let their artists have at it! I don’t think I could have imagined how fun it would be to romp around a retro styled portal facility. It was just one layer of icing on a tall, multilayer cake! And it does exist!
Uncanny Valley Factor
Oh man, it’s my favorite category to bash games with! Well… it’s kind of hard with Portal 2. I mean, the only things you see are robots; granted, robots that express human emotions (most expertly done I might add). So yeah, the vast majority of things you see are exempt from the U.V. criteria. There was some art on the walls which looked painted and it seemed alright, and the game has undergone so much work that there’s hardly anything to criticize as breaking the “veil of disbelief”… but sometimes you DO see Chell walking in and out of portals. Heck, I think that was the first thing we all did when we got the gun, was to see what she looked like. Amazingly enough, even though this is an entirely first person game, they took the time to really up the polygons and make her look very nice. More than I can say for other first person games… Talking about you Oblivion! So yeah, while I’d say she is fairly average with the U.V. Factor, as in not a zombie, but also not something you’d mistake as human, it’s so hardly noticeable and you really have to go out of your way to find it… that and she’s not done half bad, so for me, I’m giving it a passing grade. However, a word of warning to the devs; should the next installment have more people types, they will need to up the ante otherwise it will not fair so well next time.
Conclusion… I mean… It’s worth every penny if it was a $60 release, but you can get it full price at $20! And they run tons of sales on it too at 40-75% off! So you won’t be disappointed! Plus it can run on even the crudiest computer, even my laptop, so no need for any fancy pants video cards. 10/10 Shakes!
Also, I want to leave off with something I found out after finishing the game… I was notably dismayed and exhausted by the time I was done. I mean, it is a whirlwind of emotions up and down, rooting and hating various characters. So when I was done, I was like… man… Glados is a bad lady! But… I found something… something amazingly haunting in it’s subtle beauty and affection that I had this weird “oh… crap!” feeling tingling down the back of my neck. It’s hard to describe really. Anyways, watch THIS HERE VIDEO OF THE ENDING to see the translated and subtitled version of the ending song AFTER you have beaten the game! AFTER! It will kind of tear at your heartstrings and make you Google everything you can about the possibility of a sequel, because… damn…
Comics About This Game!