The Good The Bad and The Ugly: Portal 2 Review

The first Portal was the Cinderella story of video games. Created by students, then hired by acclaimed video game developer Valve to further develop their product, Portal was packaged in with Half life 2, Half life 2 : episodes 1 & 2, and Team Fortress 2. Portal showed us the value of science and that just because a monotone sentient computer tells you there will be cake, doesn’t mean there will be any cake.

Premise

Re-captured Chell (the Heroine from Portal) is once again sent through a new series of test by Glados (Murderous computer from Portal). In order to pass these tests she must use a portal gun able to create inter-spatial doorways to get to the exit. Not every surface can have a portal on it so figuring out how to get to the exit requires a little imagination. If the premise of the game sounds exactly like the original it pretty much is however…

The Good

… This game takes the original and expands on to the point that Portal looks like a demo compared to Portal 2. This game expands the story, the gameplay mechanics, the characters, the humor, the history and my continuing love of companion cube death. The great thing about Portal 2 is those aha moments when you finally figure out a puzzle or hear a revelation about a character.

I thought that Glados was a great character until I met her creator Cave Johnson. Voiced by the always enjoyable J.K. Simmons (Spider-man), Cave Johnson sounds like a narrator from those old 60’s film they would show in school except he has such a lack of sympathy for his fellow man, he borders on being a sociopath. Another new character is Wheatley voiced by Stephen Merchant  (The British Office) who is a great foil for Glados. Wheatley is trying to help Chell escape after accidentally re-activating Glados. Wheatley is also a moron. Lets not forget Glados, voiced again by Ellen McLain who is still as great as she was in the first game. She does go through a bit of a change in this game, but like a tiger she can’t change her stripes.

Most of Valves games have no cut scenes in the game. Every character talks to you as if you are Chell with Chell not speaking for you. This allows the player to become immersed in the game. Players that pay close attention to the dialogue will find clues as to how Aperture Science Laboratories fell from grace, and foreshadows what may come ahead. The puzzles are never too hard to figure out and are never so easy that you blow through the game in a half hour.

Portal 2 adds cubes that redirect lasers, bridges made of light, Gravity funnels, and gels that allow you to jump higher, run faster, and place portals on non- portal walls. The new mechanics are so well integrated its hard to imagine that Portal 1 didn’t have them. Portal 2 also introduces co-op to the fray. Co-op mode could be considered its own separate game in itself. Each player in co-op is given their own portal gun and must rely on the other to help solve each level’s puzzle. On top of that Glados is constantly trying to sew seeds of doubt in the mind of you and your partner. I so desperately want to talk about the game’s cooler moments but doing so will be a crime to anyone who is reading this and has not played the game.

The Bad

Once you solve all the puzzles there isn’t anymore to do but play the game again. There isn’t a harder difficulty or reverse mode to speak of, not that its entirely crucial for a game to have something to artificially extend the game. Basically the game is a magic trick and once you figure out the trick it becomes real easy to do it again. The graphics are also really quite dated, but I’m really just trying to find something to gripe at.

The Ugly

I almost didn’t want to add this into the review until I went achievement hunting. In order to gain a certain achievement you must find a life preserver with the words S.S. Borealis a ship that is suppose to be in the upcoming game Half-Life 2: Episode 3. When I saw this life preserver a rage started building in the back of my neck. Valve WHERE THE FUCK IS HALF LIFE 2 EPISODE 3? HOW CAN YOU DO THIS TO US THE FANS AFTER THE ENDING OF EPISODE 2. FIRST YOU MADE LEFT 4 DEAD, THEN LEFT 4 DEAD 2, NOW PORTAL 2. SURE THEY’RE ALL GREAT GAMES, BUT GIVE US WHAT WE WANT. WE WANT GORDON FREEMAN.

Closing Comments

After beating the singleplayer, I wanted to play the whole thing all over again. There are not many games that have caused that kind of reaction from me. Portal 2 overshadows it’s predecessor and that is not a statement to be taken lightly. For the love of raptor jesus play this game. 9/10

Pour me a shot Superman…

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~ by Andrew Braid on May 7, 2011.

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