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Portal 2 Review – Thursday Analysis

Posted by Michael Koczwara On June - 2 - 2011 1 Comment

Valve released the Orange Box, a compilation of 5 games packaged in a single retail copy, back in 2007. Inside players could find all three Half Life 2 games, Team Fortress 2, and a little gem named Portal. A short title, lasting no more than a couple of hours, mesmerized gamers with its brilliant storytelling, amazing dialogue, innovating puzzles and astonishing surprises. The game went onto win multiple awards, several of them including Game of the Year.

Fast forward to 2010. It’s E3, and Valve has just announced and shown a trailer for Portal 2. The dialogue was funny, the idea and feel of the game were superb and the puzzles imaginative. A single question lingered among the crowd. Was Portal 2 going to be able to recapture the same stunning experience the original Portal gave?

I am very happy to say yes, yes it has.

With a narrative that constantly engages the player, a set of new and old lively characters, a plethora of unique and interactive controls, and a slew of new gameplay features, Portal 2 more than answers that question.

Not unlike the original, the game has you mysteriously waking up, finding yourself in a room you have never seen before, giving off, once again, that feeling of confusion and solitude. Not long after, you are introduced to Wheatley, a new AI that adds a fresh voice to an already fantastic cast. The two stumble upon GLaDOS, the main antagonist from the first game, who brings back the qualities of humor and test taking that we have all come to know and love.

The game continues to replicate the original in a nostalgic pattern, until an abrupt plot twist occurs. Without giving anything away, the story continues to differentiate itself, but at the same time, continue the aspects that made Portal the great game it was.

Test chambers still hold the concept of using portals to get from one area to another. The player controls a portal gun; a device that shoots out two different colored portals that allow you to pass through one and out the other. For veteran players, the concept is well established, but Portal 2 does not leave newcomers in the dust. The game begins at a steady pace, letting unfamiliar players recognize the idea of using portals. The game’s difficulty begins to increase as the story progresses.

As players dive into the more demanding levels of Portal 2, the player will never feel frustration when stuck. Valve did an amazing job keeping the puzzles reasonable and creating test chambers that can be solved with plausible thinking.

New elements only add to the creativity of Portal 2. Repulsion gel, a blue, goo-like substance, grants you the ability to jump fair distances, high and wide. This used with Propulsion gel, an orange substance that dramatically increases the player’s speed, and portals, add for an extraordinary combination that create endless opportunities for level design.

A major focus of Portal 2 was not only in its single player but its cooperative play. With one player as Atlas, a short robot based on the design of a personality core, and another as P-body, a lanky robot based on the design of a turret, a whole new chapter in Portal’s gameplay is expanded on. Players work together in an entirely new storyline complete with fully new levels, all new dialogue, and an experience like no other. The fun comes in working together, solving puzzles that can only be solved with partners. Valve prepared well, adding in a system where markers can be placed to show your partner where a portal needs to go or where he/she needs to go, in addition to using voice chat to communicate.

Portal 2 delivered on every level, succeeding in detail with story, gameplay, and overall enjoyment and satisfaction of the game. The single player will easily clock you in a good 10 to 12 hours and additional 5 hours for cooperative play. The graphics, still using the Source engine introduced in 2004’s Half Life 2, has aged gracefully and matches any console game to date. The sound plays accordingly in the background and the voice acting is nothing but superb. A game that had high expectations exceeded all of them, and is easily one of the best games of the year.

Categories: Analysis, Daily Feature, Review

One Response so far.

  1. Alison says:

    Great review here! I played the original Portal and became a big fan so I was naturally excited to hear about the second one coming out. I didn’t buy it at first because I wanted to try it out so I put it in my queue for Blockbuster and got it a day later. I haven’t put my controller down since! It’s a great puzzle game and is so much fun to play in co-op. I’ll definitely be buying this game later on to add to my collection. Glad my TV provider/employer DISH Network teamed up with Blockbuster cause I wouldn’t have been able to rent it at first! New customer’s can sign up with DISH and get 3 months free of BB. Check it out here. :)

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