Developer/Publisher: Valve Corporation
Classification: First-Person (Shooter?)/ Physics-based Puzzle
Release Date: April 21st, 2011.
Christ’s Rating: 9.0 out of 10
As you can see by my classification attempt, the different elements of gameplay within Portal 2 verify it’s truly unique style. To keep this review under two pages (or possibly more), I am going to provide a link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal_(video_game)) to help introduce you to the world of Aperture Science, being that this was a sequel. The first game, Portal, was actually a downloadable Xbox Live Arcade release (much cheaper). Due to the success of it, Valve took it to the “next level” making Portal 2 a full retail release (you know…useless case..useless disc, larger price aaaand more money for them…especially when FULL games are downloadable now anyway). Along with arger environments and an array of new futuristic elements to solve puzzles, Portal 2 introduced a multiplayer co-op mode which of course we shall also discuss. But first, Single player campaign…..
Single Player Campaign
Awakened from stasis after many years, your character Chell (human) is once again trapped in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center you thought you had destroyed and escaped. Though it is very dilapidated, GLaDOS, an artificially intelligent (and quite humorous in a very sarcastically dry way) computer you thought to have also destroyed has been reactivated and seeks revenge. As you try to escape once again, GLaDOS continues to rebuild the facility and much more intricately I might add. As in the first game, your only actual weapon is a “portal gun” which can create inter-spatial portals between two flat planes. In layman’s terms, an in-door and an out-door where momentum is retained (there is a simple diagram to help visually explain this on the page.). Along the way you are assisted by an eyeball shaped AI robot named Wheatly (also having a very comical personality) who shares your discontent with the vengeful and controlling GLaDOS. If you didn’t play the first Portal I highly recommend that you do. Reason being that it somewhat conditions you and your brain to the portal atmospheres and puzzles, making it that much easier to solve them. Either way, your brain will be drained. 😉
The puzzle chambers in Portal 2 are much larger but that isn’t the only addition. Instead of just adding more puzzles(chambers) with larger square-footage, Valve built upon the original adding in Hard Light Bridges, Excursion Funnel tractor beams, and Thermal laser beams. Each of these new elements can be used in conjunction with your portals to help you escape each chamber . Hard-Light Bridges help you to create bridges with your portals to navigate through some of the much more expansive chambers. Excursion Funnel tractor beams can carry objects (including yourself) wherever you may need. The laser beams can be directed towards particular switches to activate lifts and doors or, as I mentioned, destroy gun turrets placed in some rooms that prevent you from navigating to the exit. Another interesting addition are the three different gels or liquids that when thrown or placed on the correct wall, floor, or surface, provide the necessary physics-based alteration needed to get you from point A to point B. For example, blue gel is bouncy and acts as a trampoline of sorts. The orange-ish gel doubles your speed while moving across it. White gel acts as a paint allowing you to place a portal where it normally wouldn’t be allowed after covering a surface. I know this all sounds extremely complicated but on the contrary it is addictive and has a learning curve that allows anyone new to the world to catch up with ease. WARNING: Critical thinking IS involved. This is not a drinking game AT ALL. Believe me, once the buzz hits your going to just be staring at the TV feeling dumber by the second until you throw in a fighting game or blastem-up shooter. Listen… I just know, ok?…
Objectively, the graphics are not jaw-dropping but this is made up for with very entertaining dialogue and thought-provoking puzzles with just the right difficulty. The campaign wasn’t as long as I believe it should have been especially due to the fact that it was a full retail release. Then again, my thought process works very well with the Portal environment so I’m sure some will get a longer play out of the campaign than I did.(no…it doesn’t mean your stupid if you do, you just….got your moneys worth. How’s that?) One other mentionable con about Portal 2 is load times. I felt as though I was on a Playstation 2 or something but in it’s defense it never felt too long to where I ever got frustrated. I think we are just spoiled nowadays because load times are slowly diminishing given the advancement in the technology of our home consoles. Other than that I did enjoy the campaign and always felt a rewarding feeling when I escaped a chamber that at first seemed like a dead end.
Many reviewers felt that the removal of the challenge/time-trial mode from the first Portal was a negative or another con of Portal 2. I on the other hand never used those modes and felt them to be useless anyway. After playing the co-op I applauded(not literally) the obvious replacement of the challenge mode with something I could enjoy with a friend. If you think the use of two portals sounds like a pleasing mind-f*ck, wait till you have four.
The co-op is not that much different from the solo campain. Instead of a human, you and your partner are robots. One is named Atlas and the other, P-Body. As Atas and P-Body you go through a series of chambers broken down into four parts each with about 6-7 chambers. These puzzles are not really any bigger than those from the solo campaign but yet designed to where you WILL have to utilize you and your friend’s pair of portals. This proves to be quite the adventure and it helps to have a partner that can and does put forth some effort during the thinking process.
Load times, and lack of replay value took a point off of my scale but overall this game is more than substantial if you are into the whole “thinking” thing that SOME people still do in 2011. As for actually buying the game, it would certainly not be worth it until 4 to 6 months goes by and the price drops from the common 50 to 60 dollar range. With trade-ins and used games you could easily get away with finding it for around 30 bucks eventually. Taking this route will also allow those who have never played Portal to run through the first one which if I am not mistaken is somewhere around 10 b-b-bones so…enjoy