The first Portal was a video game that no one expected. It was an entirely new thing that tried things that felt incredibly fresh within a genre that was becoming stale, namely, a first-person shooter experience that was about solving puzzles rather than killing everyone. Plus, the writing was placed above the usual writing you find in games. It was and still is the pinnacle for what a simple concept taken just far enough can accomplish, made even sweeter with the fact that it was just an add-on to a larger pack of games. I bought The Orange Box purely to get Portal. What this means is that Portal 2 has some hefty shoes to fill. Huge success? Let’s read on and find out.
The big change Portal 2 is making over its predecessor is the most simple, and that’s by becoming a stand-alone title rather than just an additive to another game. This aspect, the $60 price tag on the PS3 and Xbox 360 (or $50 on the PC), is what has been motivating a lot of gamers to become insanely frustrated with the amount of content the game itself actually delivers. That said, if you’ve been fine paying top dollar for the usual type of AAA games coming out, the value Portal 2 exudes should feel amazing.
While the first Portal was strictly a single-player adventure through the various rooms of Aperture Science, Portal 2 includes both a single-player adventure and a co-op adventure, and while you may think one is just a copy of the other with a friend, you’d be mistaken. The two are entirely unique, showing that Valve knows how to get the most out of its design team.
When it comes to the single-player story, Chell is back, sadly re-awoken in Aperture Science again and quickly learning that GLaDOS is, yes, still alive. Time to escape once again utilizing the Portal Gun, but new are gels that can change physics, such as a blue gel that allows you to bounce higher and an orange gel that makes you move faster. Very simple additions that the game gets a lot out of.
And that’s Portal 2’s main draw, just like the first title. Instead of making everything about nonstop action, you have to take your time and think about how to get out of the current room, usually through trial-and-error. If you hate having to play a game like that, then just go ahead and skip Portal 2 as it just doesn’t sound like a game you’ll get much enjoyment out of. If, however, you thrive on games such as this, you’ll be rewarded with more of the best writing in the industry as GLaDOS does her thing talking as you work around the challenge rooms and saying hilarious nonsense every step of the way. Seriously, there’s a high chance that you’ll feel the price was justified just to get a chance to hear how good the humor works in Portal 2.
Then there’s the co-op mode where you and a friend play as two Aperture Science robots running through more challenge rooms. The trick here is that one robot has the orange Portal Gun and the other has the blue Portal Gun. This forces you to work together to the best of your abilities to find the room’s solution, all the while getting the chance to experience the game with a friend. There are even controls available to perform such actions as “hug it out” when you just want to share a moment with your partner.
Remember, both of these modes are included in their entirety right out of the box, each half worthy of being its own game, instead paired together for your enjoyment. There is already DLC, but all it consists of is more buddy actions for the co-op robots and other cosmetic (read: unimportant) choices, meaning passing up the option doesn’t hinder your enjoyment of the game one fraction (unless, maybe, you like robots in silly hats).
Portal 2 is the type of game that’s almost too simple to write about. I can blindly guess an aspect to describe a video game and every answer will basically be “Yeah, Portal 2 is great.” Music? Perfect for the atmosphere. Graphics? Fits the style of the game. Controls? Flawless in execution and simple to learn. Only downside is that you may get tired of some of the environments as they do tend to look similar, but even then I can’t find much to dock points on as the whole point of the game is that you’re contained to a science lab the entire time, so of course things are going to look similar.
All reviewing aside, Portal 2 is the type of game that’s made specifically for people who enjoy video games. This is a treat to everyone who decided they were more comfortable holding a controller in their hands rather than a tennis racket. Go out and give it a shot, or at least play a demo to convince yourself that yes, Portal 2 is worth it. This is one franchise you’ll want to see more of.
Want more game reviews? Check these out: