Review: Portal 2

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In 2007, Valve released Portal and became a huge success. And while it was part of a collection of other games developed by the company, it was announced that a sequel to the popular game. Now in 2011, we see the results of their hard labour.

Read our review on Portal 2, by Chris Southcott, after the jump.

  • Score:

    10 / 10

  • The Good:

    Addictive, original gameplay. Funny, unpredictable story. Excellent character development.

  • The Bad:

    Occasional slowdown. Some super hard and cheap puzzles.

  • Bottom Line:

    Witty, challenging and 100% entertaining. Possible (and most likely winner) contender of game of the year.

Presentation

Portal 2 has some of the best writing I’ve ever seen in a puzzle game. The characters are hilarious and literally had me laughing out loud. The story is also brilliant, with twists and turns which make it entertaining from start to finish. The games presentation is top notch, with almost everything feeling polished and big budget. Also, Valve has had no trouble transforming a downloadable game into a full game, something that had fans of the original worried. The story is bigger and the characters are even more enthralling. It is an awesome game.

Gameplay

Portal 2 features the same original yet simple premise from the previous game. You have a gun which shoots two portals. Those portals connect to each-other and give life to an abundance of physics-based puzzles. New to Portal 2 is gels, which give a new challenge to later puzzles. Blue gel is bouncy, orange gel is fast and white gel allows portal’s to be placed in a number of usually uninhabitable locations.

As in the last game, the puzzles are hard to finish but, once finished, you’ll be left feeling quite smart and very satisfied. Although I did find a couple of the puzzles to be cheap, I could solve all of them after a short break/rage quit. And while this wasn’t a big problem for me, I can see people giving up and putting the game into their own “pile of shame”.

As you progress through the test chambers, you will have to use the available companion cubes; new reflective cubes that reflect the light from lasers as well as deal with cute yet deadly turrets. And the pacing of the game felt really good in this regard; whenever it would start to get boring, the game would throw a new element to the puzzles.

I haven’t been able to play co-op thoroughly, but I can say that you should really play with a friend. The puzzles are just as hard, if not harder, in co-op. So if you’re stuck with a noob you’ll probably regret it.

In all honesty, Portal 2 is a serious breath of fresh air in the crowded FPS and Puzzle genre and the game-play, while hard, is rewarding enough to have me finish the game and still be salivating over the recently announced DLC. It is truly fantastic.

Visuals

While the visuals of Portal 2 aren’t amazing, it doesn’t mean they’re not good. The animations are smooth and full of personality, which gives the characters a breath of life. There is occasionally a rough texture or animation and sometimes a major slowdown, but all up the visuals are great. It all looks great, but it’s a shame some of the visuals can occasionally look last-gen. That rarely detracts from the overall experience though.

Sound

The music in Portal 2 is fantastic. It’s consistently awesome from start to end. The voices for the game are also brilliant. Ellen McLain reprises her role as GLaDOS and, as usual, her lines are very funny and delivered perfectly. The robotic, electronic effects added to her voice are also pitch perfect. A new addition to Portal 2 is Steve Merchant, who plays your robot companion Weatley. And his character is hilarious too with great one-liners that will honestly make you LOL. Seriously, I haven’t laughed like this or had a song stuck in my head from a video game in ages. It is the definition of perfection.

Now, there is a limit on Portal 2’s re-playability. Because the game is story and puzzle-driven, playing it again won’t be very satisfying. There is so much to do in this game, so you’ll still be playing this for a fair amount of time and I think it’s still worth the money. There is an entire Co-Op game which can be played split-screen and online with Steam. And this adds to the already large campaign and makes it surely worth the dough.

Steam Integration (PlayStation 3)

Portal 2 on PlayStation 3 (shockingly!) has Steam integration. This means that every PS3 copy comes with a PC code for Steam on PC. It also means co-op can be played between PC and PS3. Steam also backs up your save game data (and other tidbits) to the cloud, yet for some reason that save data can only be used on your platform of choice. This integration is definitely cool and it’s amazing Sony would let Valve do this.

Final Thoughts

This is honestly my game of the year (so far). And I seriously doubt that will change. It’s witty, original, challenging and 100% entertaining. It’s a must have game. And I don’t throw that around all too often.

Join the Conversation

  • Anonymouse

    Super Hard Puzzles?
    Only problem with some of them was finding the way out.
    Other down side was lack of advanced maps in this one, unlike the first, still super game though.

  • Anonymouse

    Super Hard Puzzles?
    Only problem with some of them was finding the way out.
    Other down side was lack of advanced maps in this one, unlike the first, still super game though.