The main reason for this Portal 2 review’s tardiness is the fact that I didn’t want to give the game a chance in the first place. I only played through half of the original Portal, and hastily gave up once my brain started to hurt, so I really didn’t give two sh*ts about the Portal 2 announcement. I figured I wasn’t a big enough hipster to understand the deeper meaning of the game, and I honestly felt like it was another one of those titles that the traditional gaming media over-hyped for no reason other than to stay on Valve’s good side. Please excuse me while I remove my foot from my mouth, because after breaking down and finally diving into Valve’s First Person Puzzler, I can’t help but adore Portal 2 in the same fashion as the rest of the gaming media.
The Awesome – Concept, Puzzles, Clever Dialogue and Story
The Not So Awesome – Ridiculous amount of Loading Screens, Not for Dummies
Who would ever have thought that a First Person game that didn’t involve guns with bullets would ever reach the critical acclaim that the Portal franchise has achieved? I’ll be the first one to admit that on paper a game of Portal 2’s ilk doesn’t read like something my Neanderthal brain would be into, but once I put controller in hand my fragile mind hasn’t looked back on its decision. In general I’m not a big fan of games that require me to produce thought that extends beyond what type of weapon I’m going to use to kill the next n00b that comes in my direction, so Portal’s concept never truly resonated with me. What can I say, I judged a book by its cover!
Luckily for me and my grey matter, I decided to give the Portal concept a try at the behest of a fine English gentleman named On3Child. After immersing myself in the Portal 2 concept for the last couple of days I’m almost embarrassed that I didn’t realize how amazing this creation is from Valve. I guess I was “too good” for it, well at least the first one, which I will undoubtedly buy again and play through now. Portal 2’s concept really is too unique to pass up, so if you’re like me and thought that this game won’t be exciting I urge you to get over yourself and pick up a copy immediately, because it’s that much fun.
Pick Your Poison
Like I mentioned before I’ve never been a big fan of puzzles in games. There’s just sometimes I’d rather blindly charge through a game like a raging HULK than break up the action with various levers, buttons, and boxes to manipulate. Fortunately, the puzzles of Portal 2 are done in a way that challenge the way a gamer thinks about his/her surroundings, as well as some pretty deep spatial reasoning exercises. The best part about this game is the way Valve paces out the puzzles, and the various tools at your disposal to solve them. Their are some tool sets in this game that make for some very interesting solutions. Can anyone say repulsion gel?
I never had a WTF moment while entering a new test chamber, because Valve did a great job training me in the previous chamber. Each puzzle will give a you a feeling of accomplishment that isn’t usually encountered in a videogame. After solving each puzzle I could feel myself getting more intelligent by conquering the obstacles that Valve threw at me. Unfortunately, Valve puts you right back in your place with each new chamber, so those feelings of newly gained intelligence fade very quickly once you begin your next test.
Most of Portal 2’s Puzzles Aren’t in the Same Sterile Environment as the Original
I also like how the puzzles change with the environments in Portal 2, which are very diverse when compared to the original game. No longer are you confined to the labs of Aperture Science. In Portal 2 you’ll find yourself in various locales each with their own brand of puzzles to solve. Never once did I feel like I was doing the same mundane puzzle solving tasks over and over. Each test challenged me in a new way, and with each conquered room I gained more and more insight into why this game is so loved throughout the industry. I have to say though some of my favorite tests come later in the game when you revisit one of the antagonists who is definitely a few sticks of RAM short of a fully capable AI machine. Just wait until you get to those brain busters!
Clever Dialogue and Story
I’ve never played a game with the caliber of witty and sarcastic dialogue that is found in Portal 2. In fact, this is what motivated me to pick the game up based on the recommendation from On3Child. Portal 2 immediately sets its sarcastic tone from the moment you begin the game. It’s not toilet bowl humor, or your typical joke based brand of being funny. Portal 2 uses very cleverly written commentary to make you giggle, and if you aren’t completely paying attention to the 3 narrators that are guiding you on your journey, you could very easily miss some of the best lines in the game.
The amazing thing is that the dialogue is expertly crafted, but without the masterful delivery by the voice actors, I’m not sure if some of the sarcasm would come across as hilarious as it does. I must say that I do love GlaDOS’s brand of humor, but the newest robot in the Portal Universe steals the show. Wheatley is hands down one of the funniest videogame characters I’ve ever come across. The Brit that delivers his lines has some of the best comedic timing I’ve ever witnessed in a computer generated character.
Wheatley Is the Funniest Soccer Ball Looking Robot I’ve Ever Come in Contact With
Portal 2 is worth getting just to hear some of the lines that come out of Wheatley, GlaDOS, and Cave Johnson’s mouths. I don’t think the game would be nearly as entertaining as it is without the brilliant work of the voice actors, and the clever writers who penned the game’s dialogue at Valve. Unlike the NC Dad who complained about some of Portal 2’s dialogue I find it to be masterful to say the least!
The Not So Awesome
Ridiculous amount of Loading Screens
The only thing keeping me from giving Portal 2 the highest rating in EB history is the fact that there’s an excessive amount of loading screens that really halt the game’s momentum in between chambers. Every chamber is separated by an annoyingly long loading screen, and these without a doubt take your mind out of the Portal 2 Universe quite abruptly. They break the smooth flow of the game, and for the life of me I can’t figure out why there’s so many of them, and why they take forever to load. It’s not like Portal 2 has an expansive map to load like a Final Fantasy, and the graphics are solid, but there nothing that should require long load times to load. This is just a minor inconvenience, but in my opinion it’s bad enough not to award this game a coveted EB 10/10.
Whenever You See One of These Elevator Tubes be Prepared for Some Loading….
Not for Dummies
It’s a safe bet that if you can’t find your way out of a box then Portal 2’s puzzles probably aren’t for you. I consider myself to be of above average intelligence (most of the time), and each chamber in Portal 2 gave my 30 year-old brain a workout it hasn’t seen in awhile. I managed to make it through every chamber without the help of the Internet for the first %75 of the game, but some of the later levels did force me to turn to a few help guides to get past them. Most of the time when I had to use a guide it was because I didn’t trust in my own answers to the puzzle, but like I’ve been saying these things aren’t for anyone who classifies as dull, or slow on the IQ scale. If you don’t mind reading a guide the whole time you play a game then go for it, but I never seem to fully immerse myself in any type of game if I have to look up how to advance through each level ever 5 minutes.
The Final Verdict
With a doubt I’ve been fully converted to the Portal franchise bandwagon after spending some time with Portal 2. I fully plan on purchasing the original and actually completing it this time now that I have a deeper appreciation for the franchise. The Portal 2 single-player campaign with its masterful puzzles, and cleverly witty dialogue has given me one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I’ve had in quite some time. It has that “Should I cancel my life duties so I can play a game” type of feel to it. I want to get back to it just from writing a post about Portal 2. The best part about this game is that it’s a near home run, and I haven’t even played the fully separate co-op campaign yet!
With that being said Portal 2 has earned the highest rating I’ve given out since the inception of this pipe dream with a stellar EB 9.9/10! Now that it’s at a reasonable price of $39.99 you have no reason not to give this game a go, so make sure to use one of the options up above and score your copy today! Not convinced? Watch some of the gameplay footage below. You’ve been blown away at how much fun jumping through Portals can actually be…
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