Genre: First Person Shooter Developer: Publisher: Classification: PG Release Date: 19th Apr 2011 Platforms:
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The cynical saw Portal as a puzzle game attached to Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life 2: Episode 2 in an effort to justify the Orange Box's full game price tag. Reflecting on the game, it's easy to see how they might have come to that conclusion.
After all, it was a four hour long first person shooter based puzzle game, using an engine Valve had admittedly already mastered (created, even).
The reality was different though. Portal was a whole lot more than just a puzzle game, or just a first person shooter - it was a demonstration of comedy in video games, executed with just a single voiced character and a keen attention to detail.
Portal set the standards extremely high, I guess. So when I tell you that Portal 2 is as good as the first game in the series, I can understand that you might think this makes it amazing - it doesn't.
Portal 2 is essentially more Portal. The focus in P2 is on building the Aperture Science story and world - but in doing this it misses what made the first game so charming.
Portal was funny because of everything it didn't say - either you understood the jokes and got something out of it, or you didn't and the game was still fun. P2 pushes the jokes at you so hard, it could practically have a laugh track.
What's worse is that none of the humour is particularly new. Cave Johnson - played by J.K. Simmons - is conceptually very similar to Team Fortress 2's mythical Saxton Hale. GLaDOS is the same as... well, GLaDOS from Portal. And Wheatley - VA'd by Stephen Merchant - is exactly the sort of character you'd expect from any Merchant/Gervais collaboration (though this time it was just a Merchant effort).
Of course, it's still funny - but it's funny like watching Extras after watching The Office is... you've already got a pretty good grasp on how the humour will play out, which diminishes things a little.
So this time the story plays out with you - Chell - being released after a catastrophic event and running into GLaDOS again. Your companion, Wheatley, manages to power her up again and you eventually find yourself in the bowels of Aperture Science, confronted by a long gone Cave Johnson.
I can't delve too deeply into this without spoiling the story - (and telling you that GLaDOS is powered up isn't spoiling anything, if you've watched the trailers) - but one thing you can bet on is a series of challenges which grow in difficulty the more you play.
The key to increasing the challenge in P2 is in what they've added - while the first part of the game is designed primarily to get you back into the swing of 'thinking with portals', when new additions like bouncy and speedy gels are introduced they're designed to rethink what you're doing yet again.
These additions are a good thing for anyone who played the first game, as they no doubt mastered thinking with portals already. This method of thinking is typically tied to finding the surfaces in the world which can hold a portal - only concrete walls can, so if you see a lone concrete wall surrounded by a host of metal ones, you can rest assured you'll need to use it at some point.
The gels don't stop you from thinking this way - instead they tweak how you think about those walls. Once the white gel - where ever it paints can have a portal placed upon it - is introduced, the challenges definitely take on a life of their own.
The other major additions are lasers, light bridges and propulsion fields. Lasers are only used for triggering switches and killing turrets - a little boring. Light bridges and propulsion fields however - they introduce a method of traversing the world which hinges specifically on your placement of portals. They're a fantastic addition.
Speaking of fantastic additions - Portal 2 has coop. The sense of achievement you get from completing each puzzle is more than doubled with the addition of a friend. Part of this is just because sharing is caring - but a part of me thinks Valve might have actually spent more time working on the coop part of the game.
This is because the only time I felt truly stumped was during coop - and despite my coop buddy (Heath from The GA Podcast) and I eventually smashing out all the challenges, we still felt like we might have fudged a couple of solutions.
In coop each of you controls a robot - P-Body and Atlas - and each robot has a separate portal gun. The portals still act like normal - so most of the challenges involve the players being separated and forced to get one player through before the other.
The best challenges are the ones which require perfect timing and synchronised movements - my favourite being a puzzle which peaks with both players colliding in midair after a Rube Goldberg-esque sequence of events.
It's difficult to fault Portal 2's coop, in fact, as it's a pure Portal experience. Cave Johnson and Wheatley are nowhere to be seen, making it just you, your friend and GLaDOS. Everyone's favourite testing bot does her best to pit you and your friend against each other, and the coop actually has a full fledged story (to the extent that Portal has a story).
The only other gripe - and this was true for Portal as well - is that Portal 2 has zero replayability. P2 suffers more for this because of coop - there's no fun in playing through the game again with another friend if you've already finished it, because you already know the solutions to the puzzles. If someone else asks me to play with them, I can either function as just an extra set of portals, or I can ruin the whole game for them.
The real beauty of Portal 2 this time is what is said. There's a meta-game clearly at play here. Those who played Portal will notice an improvement in the quality of the puzzles in Portal 2. This is because your role in Portal was more than just Chell - you were the test subject.
GLaDOS tells you this over and over - and Portal 2 demonstrates it to be true. Of course heatmaps and stat tracking can't tell you how to sufficiently nail humour, so Portal slips in those areas. It's more Portal, not a better Portal. Regardless, if you're looking for a challenging puzzle game and a great coop experience, Portal 2 is a must buy.
From a concept that was designed in a gamer's unversity to a game of the year winning steam-signiture title, portal was one of vavle's most stand out and rememberable titles. While the half-life series was arguably the best first person shooter series on the windows os, portal brought a new breed of fans to valve's franchise.
Portal was not only one genre, it was complied of serveral, as many great games have done in the past like deus ex. which was titled game of the year or gotye as being a puzzle solving, first person shooter, role playing game adventure all-in-one. portal is mainly classified as a first person shooter, because of the camera, but it was a platformer, adventure, puzzle game which made it one of the most unique game of the year titles in a number of years.
Portal 2 is the same concept, make your way out a building or environament using only your portal device - fire one portal for in, one portal for out. The idea was simple but many gamers wanted more out of portal and so portal 2 was the result.
Fluids are now present in the game which have been taken out of a game called "tag: the power of paint" which was another indie game which the creators of were asked to help bring portal 2 to the market.
fluids like run and jump can make a game a heck of lot more fun, which makes us wonder how could they make portal 3 any better, assuming and praying that there will be one.
Overall, portal 2 is defienently worth playing if you are into puzzle-based games, first person shooters, or willing to try out a new concept.
Make sure to also look into playing prequels to portal and portal 2 like "narbacular drop" and "tag the power of paint" to see where the concept of portals and special fluids became portal and portal 2