The original Portal took everybody by surprise. It was an experimental game, included in Valve’s The Orange Box in 2007.
The game was incredibly original, and a breath of fresh of air. It became an instant hit, and the highlight of The Orange Box, which included the great Half Life 2.
With the fan reaction, Valve soon announced a fully fledged sequel. And now we have Portal 2 on our hands.
It takes all the concepts from Portal 1, and adds many layers of strategy and complexity to the puzzles.
With the incorporation of 3 types of gels, excursion funnels and much more, Portal 2 is a much deeper, and difficult experience.
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Portal - What Is It?
If you haven’t played the original Portal, the concept in theory is very simple. You have a gun, that is able to shoot two portals.
Each one is connected to each other, allowing you to navigate all sorts of obstacles in very creative ways.
The beginning of the game serves as a re-fresher to the mechanics of the portal gun, and also a solid intro for new players.
You will soon discover how to use momentum, moving platforms and 3 types of impact gels in conjunction with your portals to navigate varying sequences of sure death.
You play as Chell, a test subject in the twisted Aperture Science lab. The same location from the first game.
You are awakened from stasis after many years by a little robot named Wheatley. And you are instantly thrust into the dilapidated ruins of the factory. Which is where the puzzles begin, as you quickly discover the portal gun.
You are slowly integrated into the puzzles, moving from test chamber to test chamber. You will learn how to move blocks to activate switches, use your portals to propel yourself over huge gaps and much more.
Several new elements have been added to Portal 2,which greatly expand the puzzle element. Which in turn lead to several moments of brilliance. New additions to the game include excursion funnels, hard light bridges and three type of paint like gels. They are:
Orange propulsion gel-gives you a speed boost to cross surfaces
Blue repulsion gel- allows you to bounce from surface to surface
White conversion gel- which allows any surface to accept portals
All of these add greatly add to the experience, and allow Valve to get much more creative with the puzzles. Some of which, are very hard.
There will be times where you will get stuck, with seemingly no way to advance. But there always is a way, and usually the solution will leave you feeling dumb as it now seems so obvious. Moments like these is where Portal 2 really shines.
The game gets progressively harder, with the final few chapter being real mind benders. Vets from the original will find the beginning very easy, but luckily Valve makes up for it any other ways.
Which leads me to my next part. Valve has crafted a classic narrative here. I found myself laughing out loud throughout most of the game.
Why Portal Is Unique
The dark humor returns in a big way in Portal 2. Ive already mentioned Wheatley, who is just hilarious, and will leave you smiling with many of his witty comments. GLADOS makes a return as well, and is as good as always.
But the real highlight is a character that you never actually see. Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson will guide you through many of the test’s in the game through pre-recorded messages.
These are just downright hilarious, and give the game a real twisted sense of humor. Valve really did an amazing job here, as the humor may just be second to none in games at the moment.
I must also say that GLADOS is your guide through the entire co-op mode, and this is actually the funniest part of the game.
She will try to get you to turn on your partner, with various insults and degrading comments directed towards the two of you.
I played through the co-op online with two people, and both times we were laughing hysterically at times. Try to play with a friend, as it will greatly enhance the humor for everyone.
Now as Ive stated, the single player is great. But Valve went one step up, and crafted a great co-op mode.
The mode is a totally separate mode from the main game. The ability to now create 4 linking portal’s really opens the possibilities for the puzzles.
Valve did an outstanding job taking advantage of this. All in all I felt the co-op was easier, just for the simple fact that you have two minds working together to solve the puzzles.
But the co-op puzzles are without a doubt much more complex than those found in the single player. This is a great addition, and one could argue is as good or better than the main game itself.
Portal 2 is such a great game, its hard to find faults anywhere. I almost have to nitpick to find anything wrong with it. Really the only complaint is the “average” graphics. But that’s really splitting hairs.
Everything is just so well done. The pacing, the story, the ingenious puzzles and especially the humor form a fantastic package.
With the inclusion of the co-op mode, you are getting two separate games. And each mode is worth playing through more than once.
Valve has made a classic here. As amazing as Portal 1 was, creating a truly full fledged sequel without recycling game play ideas was a gigantic task. and Valve responded perfectly.
If you enjoyed the original, you will absolutely love this game. And I would encourage all new players to give it a try, as its truly one of the best experiences this gen.