Now you’re thinking with Portals, too
So, if you’re here, you’re likely connected to the world of video games in some way. If you are, there’s no possible way you haven’t heard about Portal 2 yet. There have been TV ads, posters, and even an Augmented-Reality game designed to put a little cash into indie devs’ hands.
Now, I’m gonna try to keep the spoilers in this to a minimum. The ones related to Portal 2, at least. I’m going to reference things from Portal one like crazy. To be fair, though, the only spoilers in Portal 1 were “You escape the test chambers, GLaDOS tries to kill you, you kill GLaDOS (But really she’s still alive). That’s it. Maybe something about a Weighted Companion Cube.
This review is of the single-player portion only. The co-operative portion will have to come later.
The game starts out nicely. You wake up in a pretty little
cell long-term relaxation vault, do a little lookie-movie tutorial, and go back to sleep. For god knows how long. The only indicator is that the day counter has broken and so has most of your room. And then you meet Wheatley. Wheatley is one of the personality spheres that you may remember from Portal. And let me tell you. He’s a damn sight better to have around than GLaDOS was. And it wouldn’t be a Portal game without her, so I’m gonna spoil this right now (Even though it’s in the trailers and such). Wheatley screws the pooch and accidentally wakes her up. Then it’s straight back to the testing chambers.
Here is the game’s first strong point. It looks fantastic. To say its the best-looking valve game to date is an understatement. Valve’s engine always seemed a bit lacking to me, but this iteration of it, I can count the number of disappointing engine areas on one hand. Half a hand, really. And really, it has more to do with my computer than anything else. One thing that does kill me is that the engine still takes breaks to load. Small, I know, but when we can have games that you don’t see a load screen the whole time, I would think Valve would look into that.
*Coughs* Back to the game. The testing areas are a lot more open than before. You still get confined to small places, but then you get to peek around them and see the areas behind them at work. Let me tell you, this time around, Aperture Science is a lot more dynamic. There are areas where you literally see an entire room built or altered. And this isn’t counting when you’re moving behind the scenes, either. Or under them. The world within the confines of Aperture Science property just bleeds with robotic and natural life. There is still graffiti on the walls in many places, though you’ll have to do a lot more looking if you want to find all the hidden areas.
You visit a lot of very interesting places that the first game didn’t dare to go. And each area is more amazing than the last, one way or another. A very explosive segment has you completing test chambers while they collide with each other around you, changing the layout. Valve’s cinematic physics are on full display here, with debris and objects flying around.
And speaking of flying around, the puzzles are on full-auto now. You get to see how well the portal gun would work in real life in plenty of areas. You’re taught the same way that you were in the first Portal, but now you’re taught a lot more, and at a lot of different places in the game. You keep learning to use more Aperture Science technology all the way through the end of the game.
While we’re there…
The ending. Oh my god, the ending. Let me just say that Valve was listening to more than a few of the theories the fans were spouting. I’ll say this. There is another song by GLaDos during the credits. And in my opinion, it’s not as good as Still Alive (Which has more than a few references made to it over the course of the game). But Valve knew this, so they included plenty of golden material in the final cutscene (Which is, unfortunately, uninteractive, but it’s so awesome that you won’t care).
There is no reason for you to not buy this game. If the first Portal was a revolution to the gaming industry, Portal 2 is the installation of a new governing body. Valve’s trademark polish is laid on thick, and boy does it shine. Any gripes of the game pale in comparison to the sum of its parts.
Honestly, I want to give this game a perfect score, and it’s getting a damn-near prefect score, but I know that it’s not going to be for as many people as the first game. This is Portal on hardcore. I breezed through most of Portal, and many puzzles in here stumped me good. It’s going to be harder to share this game with someone, too, because with the new Cooperative gamemode, you’re just going to end up playing that. People who struggled through the first game, but did it as a labor of love will find this game to be just as easy to love, but a lot harder to work through.
I’ll have to give it a 9/10. Hell, I’ll give it a 9.7/10. It’s a game that raises the bar. It will make you love it. You will walk through fire, bullets, and hazardous chemicals just to finish it. You will want to see what happens next. Just be sure to bring your A-game to the puzzle-solving, or you’ll be stuck putting cubes on buttons forever.