Developer Valve Software
Platforms PC/Mac/PS3/Xbox (PC Reviewed)
Things You Might Like
- Portals and traveling therein
- Fresh gameplay mechanics built on the success of the original
- Positively brilliant writing
- Crisp visuals
Things You Might Not Like
- You’re practically defenseless
- Valve’s love of the silent protagonist
Portal 2 is what fans of the original have waited for ever since they were assured that GLaDOS was ‘still alive’.
5 out of 5 Potato Batteries
Wow, where to begin? If you’re reading this review, I’m going to work off of the assumption that you’ve played the original Portal. If you’ve not played the original, you should point your browser to Steam (Valve’s online store) and grab a copy for a mere $10. You’ll play through it in about 2 and half hours. We’ll wait.
Welcome back! It was good, right? Now you’re ready to read a review of the sequel. Bear in mind, I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers.
So here’s the truth, Portal 2 is amazing. There, review over. (Editor’s Note: Get back to work, Josh)
Ah, okay, so…there’s more to say about Portal 2. Let’s begin with the cast of characters. Continuing in Valve’s tradition of the silent protagonist, you reprise the role of Chell, the test subject for Aperture Science from the first game. It seems a lot has happened since you took GLaDOS apart and now you’re called on to do it again if you want to get out alive. In addition to the homicidal villianess is another AI called Wheatley. He’ll be working to help you escape. Oh, and the adorably murderous turrets are back, too.
Now, this brings us to another shining point in Valve’s design — the writing. The script for Portal 2 has everything that fans of the original loved, but now in much greater quantities. All of the witty, biting humour is back, and the lines are always timed perfectly. In fact, the only problem here is that there’s so much amazing dialogue, you’ll be afraid that you missed something. GLaDOS’ one-sided banter with you is full of all the vitriol we’ve come to expect from a once-dead omnipotent machine, and her conversations with Wheatley never cease to amuse.
Can I risk just a little more of the story without spoiling anything? Okay. Let me say this: Prepare to see a lot more of Aperture Science than you did last time. Whereas the first Portal dealt largely with test chambers and then that bit at the end with the escaping/compucide, Portal 2 answers and creates a whole lot of questions regarding Aperture’s past. You’ll certainly get plenty of puzzles, but the sheer amount of story they work in as dialogue while you’re mucking about ripping holes in the universe will make you already bemoan the present lack of a third game in your hands.
Also to note: before each test chamber there will be short little videos playing on the walls. Take time to watch them. Many of these are hilarious. In addition, the little bits of graffiti we all loved from the original are back as well.
Gameplay is a term that gets thrown around a lot. For those of you not familiar with the term, it’s unique to this industry and essentially references how playable a game actually is. Do the mechanics in place make it easier or harder to enjoy the title? Things like that. Now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you that Portal 2’s gameplay is better than the original. While the base elements are there, i.e. shooting portals, they have added a handful of new elements to increase the complexity of the test chambers. In every case, these work well; which is surprising. Trying something new like this was risky, but Valve managed to deliver the goods.
Without getting too detailed about the new mechanics, for fear of spoilers, Portal 2 introduces a failed experiment from Aperture’s past: gel. No, gel in and of itself isn’t some sort of breakthrough. Though, something that’s not quite liquid nor solid, that’s cool. Wait, we’re getting off track. Aperture Science’s gel comes in three delicious flavours: blue, orange, and white. Each of these bring a new element to the puzzles. Blue Gel lets you bounce off of the surface it covers without losing too much momentum. Orange Gel will accelerate your movement. This is handy when solving puzzles that deal with launching yourself. White Gel allows you to make portals on surfaces that previously couldn’t be bothered. As the game progresses, you’ll learn to combine these at the right moments. The gel comes from giant pipes, and you’ll need to place portals to launch the gel where it most benefits/amuses you. This part of the game really changed up the pace of things and required me to rethink my view of Portal‘s status quo.
So there you have it: Portal 2 is a polished experience that managed to be both original and dish out plenty of fan-service in the process. The single player campaign will take you approximately 7 hours or so, and the multiplayer should be just over half of that. Quality graphics, brilliant writing, and excellent gameplay all came together to form a Voltron of gaming excellence.
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