By Julian Virgona
Portal 2, released on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC on April 21st 2011 and developed by Valve, is a first-person puzzle-platform game and sequel to the 2007 Portal. Both gameplay and the story revolves around the player navigating their way through numerous test chambers, using the ‘Portal Gun’ to move themselves, boxes and lasers in order to open doors and progress into the next room.
Now, I haven’t played the original Portal myself, so I can’t really compare the two games, but I don’t even need the first to say how amazing the second game is. It has a great story, really fun and challenging gameplay and some grand and beautiful scenery as well. It’s an incredible game, genius on a disc, and every single aspect of it shows why it is being named one of 2011’s best games.
Portal 2 has a beautiful look to it. At the start of the game, the facility of Aperture Science is being overrun by all different kinds of vegetation and this looks amazing. Seeing the entire building in complete disarray is amazing and the look of the decaying labs looks very real. Once the facility is back up and running again, most of the tests labs look spectacular. When an area of gameplay isn’t taking place in a test chamber, it is instead taking place outside in the other areas of Aperture Science and these all look amazing. Even with the sheer size of some of the rooms you enter, there is no screen tearing or pop in. These environments all look spectacular.
The lasers, platforms, portals and movable cubes move smoothly and the sound effects that accompany each of these are really cool and sound great. They add a robotic feel to the game, which suits it perfectly. Not to mention the fun techno music that plays whenever you solve a puzzle or enter an epic moment in the game.
Portal 2’s story is amazing. It is captivating, has a great conclusion (don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil anything) and is absolutely hilarious. It starts off with the player, who is taking the role of the ever silent ‘Chell’, getting some help from the personality sphere Wheatley, voiced amazingly by Stephen Merchant, to escape from the Aperture Science Testing Facilities. However, as they try to activate an escape pod, they accidently awaken GLaDOS, the crazy, murderous and diabolical robot who was the main enemy of the first game. GLaDOS is still a bit annoyed from past events in the first game (again, I won’t spoil anything), and forces the player to do more and more tests… for science of course. From there, all hell breaks loose, leading to, as I already mentioned, an amazing storyline. It is one of the best I’ve seen and it has a very nice ending too.
There are many laugh-out-loud moments, nearly all of them provided by either GLaDOS voiced by Ellen McLain, Wheatley or Aperture Science’s CEO Cave Johnson, voiced by J.K Simmons. GLaDOS’ insulting comments, Wheatley’s random rambling and Cave Johnson’s pre-recorded messages about the production of Aperture Science adds a lighter feel to the otherwise glum situation of the main character Chell. It also adds some insight into how the huge facility began, how such technology as created and what started the events leading into Portal 2.
Portal 2 has some of the most unique, enjoyable and innovative gameplay I have seen in a video game. It is addictive and one of the most fun games I’ve played in a while. In a nutshell, you are thrown into numerous rooms where you are required to find a way to open the door to progress into the next room. In writing it sounds a little boring, but when you’re actually playing it, it is a great experience. With use of the ‘Portal Gun’, you can make an Orange Portal and a Blue Portal, on any white wall. This allows you to navigate anywhere in the room and get to some objectives, like a box to pick up and put on a button. Not only do they move you, but they can also move things like walkways of solid light, necessary to pass a bottomless pit of doom.
The puzzles are a little obvious and easy at first, but by the end, they can be really challenging, but not to a point that gets you frustrated. The constant addition of new mechanics such as lasers and special gels that make you bounce and speed up keeps gameplay feeling new and fresh.
The great feature of flinging, which was also in the original, makes a return in Portal 2 and it’s really fun to play around with. ‘Flinging’ involves the use of momentum from a fall to go through a portal and, keeping the momentum, fling out of another portal to the other side of the room to get to an area that would otherwise be inaccessible. Puzzles also keep you on your feet as you need to think fast for a few of them to quickly make a portal on the ground below you as you jump of the side of a tall structure.
A good ten hours plus can be put into Portal 2 and not a second will feel wasted.
Overall, Portal 2 is a great game. It sounds great, looks great and plays great. It has some of the most challenging yet fun and unique gameplay I have seen in a game and its storyline continues to surprise and entertain right up until the last second. Also, thanks to Portal 2 I finally understood where that ‘the cake is a lie’ meme came from.
I highly recommend this game to anyone especially those who like puzzle games, like a good story and like fun, new ways to play a game.
Portal 2 deserves all the praise it is getting and is easily in my top five games. I give it a perfect 10/10!
Think with Portals...Visit the Official Portal 2 Website