PORTAL 2 SINGLE PLAYER REVIEW
I stand ready with portal gun in hand, I fully expect to be accosted with cute but murderous turrets, tossing myself form ungodly heights to only send myself hurtling across the room to avoid a pleasant acid both. What do I find when I walk into the first test chamber…I find that Portal 2 is going to be a entirely new beast than the short gem I had previously encountered.
Before we look at Portal 2 I think we need to take a short look at what made Portal such a gem in the first place.
Portal was a quirky game brought to us by Valve, almost unknowing of what they created it was crammed into the Orange box left to just “be there” surrounded by two larger games. I’m not sure if Valve even though that Portal would ever be the cult hit it is today. Players around the world grasped onto the game not only for it’s innovative use of the portal device to solve physics puzzles, but also the amazing dark humor that was so core to the game experience it’s hard to imagine Portal ever being here without Glados and the silent protagonist being just the way they were. Now on to the review!
Portal 2 opens as mysteriously as the first portal did, only this time instead of being awoken in a test chamber you awake in a Motel room with no windows…or much of anything. A disembodied voice puts you through your stretches to make sure you still alive and not a drooling simpleton and then puts you back to bed…then things get real. You awake once again to hear this mans voice.
Only he looks less like this…and more ball on a stick. Wheatly and his voice actor Steve Merchant are a very welcome addition to the crew in Portal 2, and like its predecessor it is hard to see the game being the same without them.
Long story short, Chell the protagonist from the first game never managed to escape Aperture science “depending on what version of the game you played you may or may not know this fact” and this chipper fellow with a alarmingly british accent is your key to finding your way out of the facility. Glados herself thankfully is still inoperable during your attempt to leave the darned place…and her inactivity and how long you have been held captive is made apparent by the fact that the entire place has a bad case of Jungle fever and falling apart syndrome. Now obviously we are all aware that Glados doesn’t stay silent forever, push comes to shove and unfortunately Glados rubs her tired eyes and remember that you threw most of her into a fire…and she is less than pleased about it, but there is science to be done!
The first thing that differentiates this game from all others is the flat out amazing quality of not only the voice acting, but the script. Many times you will pause and listen to the banter the characters will have with the rather untalkative Chell. Something as simple as Wheatley asking your character to say “Apple” to denote your not suffering from an acute case of mush brain is downright hilarious. If you don’t stop and listen to the banter these characters have to offer you are missing out on a large portion of what makes this game great. Never has a video game had such a not only humorous but powerful script every single line has a purpose and it delivers home every single time. Something like this strikes home when we have massive budget games with huge scripts and voice actors and there is so much flak that is not required and to have Portal 2 do it so well just makes me gleam with excitement when I know developers will look to this game as a benchmark for not only the script, but the overall delivery system they present. Steve Merchant “Wheatley”, Ellen McLain “Glados”, J K Simmons “Cage Johnson president of Aperture Science” all blow me away with how well they all play there parts.
The other thing that bring the game to a whole new level is that the whole world feels alive as you move through it, almost every room you enter is in the midst of being configured, early on there are plenty of broken pieces trying to automatically correct themselves, later on everything become so flush and smooth you hardly ever remember the previous state the facility was in mere minutes ago. The main factor of this is the use of “Tiles” as the game call it.
…Yup while this may look like an ordinary floor the entirety of most environments are the assembly of these individual grids that form slick, smooth, sciency rooms. They even give you glimpses of how these look unsegmented and what runs behind the scenes…Everything in the game is so fluid it runs in perfect harmony.
Next up is the superb animation, Wheatley for being a small spherical ball he is, can convey Fear, Joy, Hate, Jealousy, Sarcasm, all with amazing detail, wether it be him rolling his eye at you or bashfully looking away when he needs to do something. It must have taken ages to place all that superb detail into every nook and cranny of the game, you run down a hallway where turrets are being assembled in the background an almost throwaway animation that most people would walk by without having a second thought. They detail the entire process of manufacturing a turret up to putting it in the box! Thats the kind of detail Valve is throwing at us here.
Portal 2 does an amazing job introducing those who are rusty to the concept back into the groove of things, and those who never touched Portal wont find a large bar to entrance either. Portal Veterans will remember flinging themselves through high-velocity portals via some sort of high-ground was a large part of almost all the puzzle solving, here the game almost taunts you by making these sort of jumps few and far between making you start your thinking process about the puzzles from the ground up. I wont spoil anything but new mechanics and puzzle solving elements are welcome additions and are not too numerous as to make old techniques obsolete. The only small issue I have is that some puzzles feel far too linear in the solving process at times in Portal you could solve one puzzle in multiple ways or at least it felt like you were solving them in your own fashion even if there was only one true solution, but a few puzzles are downright perplexing if you don’t look at it exactly as they wanted you too. It’s easy to miss a small detail that makes you fall mere inches short of a platform making you think you just didn’t hit the portal right making you spend a long time attempting that fatal jump to only find another solution staring you in the face.
There is so much I could say about this game but it would just ruin the fun for anyone looking to play this game. Even for it’s single player campaign alone this game is by far the best purchase you will make this year if you are into puzzle games in the slightest, or even intrigued by Portal 2’s concept.
Everything the game does it does perfectly, every nail was hit on the head, every aspect of the game just fits together! It’s not often I will say this about a game, but this is a must own game hands down.