Portal, a game series started in 2007 was a smash hit amongst gamers. The original title was packaged along with two other, much more known games in The Orange Box. It was an immediate success and, not counting Steam, has sold over four million copies. Earlier this year we saw the release of the direct sequel, Portal 2. Valve had a lot of people to impress considering most thought the game couldn’t and shouldn’t be made. You, once again, take on the role of Chell, a mysterious woman trapped in the Enrichment Center for Aperture Laboratories. The center looks as if it went through the apocalypse since the first game but as Wheatley, a blue core you meet at the beginning, tells you “…there was a long period where pretty much nothing happened. So there, you’re pretty much all caught up.” As shown in the trailers, soon after the game starts GLaDOS returns to torment you some more. One of her first remarks towards you is “We’ve both said a lot of things that you are going to regret. But I think we can both put it behind us. For science. You Monster.” As soon as she is back, it’s back to testing for you!
The game play mechanics are virtually identical to the first. You obtain the “Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device,” or Portal Gun for short, to help you complete each increasingly difficult test. Your gun is able to fire two separate portals, when you enter either one they work as a sort of doorway transporting you where you wish to go. The portals are also able to continue lasers to get them where they need to go or extend Hard-Light Surface Bridges where you want them to be. Both of the previously mentioned features only work where there is already a laser or bridge to begin with. Valve has added in tractor beams, laser redirection cubes, and paint-like gels that impart special properties to objects they cover to the game to increase the fun and freshness. Now, this seems simple so far, until you realize that GLaDOS wants to kill you…badly. Many elements in the test chambers are near-instant deaths for Chell and should be avoided at all costs. Turrets, lasers and spike pits are your main fears in this game but there is poisonous water that kills you if you happen to be unlucky enough to miss your jumps. Luckily, there are checkpoints in some of the chambers, but in most chambers as soon as you die, you have to restart.
Every aspect of the sound in Portal 2 is top notch, as are the graphics. Everything in the game looks very smooth and polished with no easily visible errors in the visuals. It is also of note that GLaDOS and the other robots move a lot more fluidly than in the original Portal, a good change. There is no music but it is a good thing since music could distract you or even take away from the game by hindering your ability to hear GLaDOS’s verbal jabs at you. In nearly every test chamber GLaDOS does her best to kill any self-esteem you have by saying things such as, “Here come the test results. You are a horrible person…that’s what it says…we weren’t even testing for that.” The sound effects are right on cue and fit perfectly with what is happening in the game. Ellen McLain from the first game has returned to reprise her roles in this sequel. She has done all new recording for every character. The turrets are as adorable as ever and GLaDOS is just as psychotic and demeaning as she was in the original. Many new voice actors were also brought on for this title and they do just as good a job as Ellen does. Portal 2 introduces a new Multiplayer Co-Op mode that is playable both locally and over the internet. In multiplayer you play as two test robots, Atlas and P-Body. In the Co-Op mode there are 5 courses with 9 chambers in each of them. The addition of multiplayer changes the game immensely, making you focus on working together rather than just speeding through on your own. While there is some lag, it is not enough to hinder game play in the least. Without spoiling anything, I can say that Co-op serves as a sort of Portal 2.5 by taking place after the events of the main story.
Portal 2 is easily one of the best releases we have seen this year and it is no doubt that it is a contender for Game of the Year for many people and sites. It is very easy to return to multiple times and the Co-Op makes it even better. I would very highly recommend this game to nearly every gamer.
- Easy to return to and play again.
- Co-Op Mode is extremely enjoyable.
- Valve to the fun of the original and increased it exponentially.
- Can be overplayed very easily.
- Not as much character customization as the PC version.
- The slight lag online can be a problem, although very rarely.