Game Review – Portal 2

GLaDOS is back and she wants you gone. For good.

Speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out. That’s the line that stuck with me from the original Portal. Not the stupid ‘The cake is a lie!” line that was completely overused for the next four years, and certainly not the Companion Cube. The thing that stuck with me was the mechanic of the portals. Go in one, come out the other. It was so simple, but so ridiculous at the same time. You could breeze through the original in an hour or two so the game was considered an experiment of sorts. And it was a damned good one at that.

An experiment, the sequel is not. Portal 2 is a fully-fledged title that warranted its own retail release, and it’s been anticipated for a few years now. If you haven’t followed Portal go out and play it right now. Alternatively, let’s bring you up to speed. In the first game, you play as Chell, a female test subject at a facility known as the Apeture Science Enrichment Center. You’re introduced to an AI known as GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) and she helps you work through Test Chambers, almost like a lab rat. You eventually get your hands on what’s known as the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, or the Portal Gun for short. Using the Portal Gun and your wits, you discover the facility empty and GLaDOS hostile. You face off against the rampant AI, defeat GLaDOS and get blasted to the outside world.

And this is where Portal 2 picks up. By an unknown robot, Chell was dragged back into the Enrichment Center and placed in Cryo-sleep for a few hundred years. When you finally wake up, the facility is in shambles and GLaDOS is nowhere to be seen. With the help of a friendly British AI known as Wheatley, you accidently power up GLaDOS, you have a nice heartfelt reunion and the testing begins all over again. And it’s most welcome.

Of course there are more twists and turns throughout the game but you’ll have to experience them for yourselves. The first thing you will notice is that this is the Portal everyone has grown to love. The distinct Valve style is evident in every single panel of the Enrichment Center and the Source Engine still stands as an incredibly versatile game engine. You wont find groundbreaking visuals in Portal 2 but it does it’s job. The art direction is where everything stands out. Watching as test chambers re-create themselves is a joy to watch and the occasional glimpse of the true scope of the facility is jaw dropping. It’s a processed and false reality feel and it really adds to the atmosphere of isolation.

Gameplay, is as I said earlier, the Portal you all know and love (And if you don’t know it I don’t love you).  You have a Portal Gun, that shoots two portals. An Orange portal, and a Blue portal. Shoot one on the roof and walk though one on the wall, you’ll fall through the roof. Shoot one the roof and one right below you, you’ll fall forever until you break out of the endless loop. I’ll admit, it’s fun and it’s the main mechanic of the game. Racking your brain for ways in which to make a jump, how to get from one side of a room to another is so satisfying. In the original you worked with simple weight switches and other things like this. Portal 2 changes the game and adds some new items into the mix.

Gel is a big new edition, and it comes in two forms; Repulsion and Propulsion. Repulsion Gel… well, repels you. It’s bouncy. Chuck it on a surface and you’ll bounce right off it. Propulsion Gel, you guessed it, propels you! Lather it over a surface and you’ll slip and slide your way to success and / or certain death. These new gels as well a few new machines (tractor beams, hard light bridges, lasers) makes for a seriously awesome puzzle game. The later puzzles in the game see you combining all these elements together providing some truly clever puzzles and a few controller-throwing moments.

Another stand-out aspect of Portal 2 is the sound design. While the original game only had GLaDOS speaking, Portal has three main speaking roles. As Ellen McLain reprises her role as GLaDOS, Steven Merchant and J.K. Simmons join the cast as Wheatley, a British AI and Cave Johnson, the owner of Aperture Science. The voice work is absolutely amazing and these three people add so much personality into the game. You’ll become incredibly attached to the whole cast and find yourself simply standing, listening to them talk. Something like that has never actually happened to me in a game before so it was incredibly refreshing.

Strangely enough, there is a lot of musical elements in Portal 2. Yeah, you heard me. Musical. Valve made a very smart decision and added audio triggers for certain actions and for being close to certain objects. Slide along some Propulsion Gel and make a jump, you’ll be treated to some very slick electronic tunes. Stand close to some lasers; you’ll hear some harsh sounding waveforms being emitted. Though, stand next to a few flipped laser switches and you’ll hear a beautiful chorus of electrical hums. It’s quite fun just going around a listening for every little noise they have thrown into the game. In the more hectic parts of the game, all these music elements combine into a massive booming and heart-racing electronic score that really pushes you to complete the puzzles and feel like a badass.

Portal 2 is more than a sequel. It’s confirmation that the Portal franchise is alive and kicking and with the second entry, it’ll forever be known as that one gaming great. I’ll say, I haven’t touched upon everything Portal 2 has to offer. I’ve left out the co-operative mode (mostly because I had no one to play it with and I want to experience it first hand) and how the Portal Universe is actually part of Half-Life Universe, Aperture Science vs Black Mesa, as the story tells. We hear rumblings that the two will eventually meet up and kick some serious ass, but for now I’m just admiring Portal 2.

Bottom line is; if you liked the original Portal, you will love Portal 2. It is worth the price and I did not feel disappointed as the oh-so-glorious credits rolled. If you haven’t experienced Portal before, do yourself a favor and pick it up on Steam or XBLA. You wont regret it, and I might just put our differences behind us. For science. You monster.

Pros:
– Brilliant Twisting Story.
– Great new gameplay mechanics.
– Amazing voice work.
– A much longer play time.
– Co-op.
The song is awesome. (spoilers)

Cons:
– Source Engine is pretty weak.
– Load times are ridiculous.
– You could be a person who hates fun.
– When you complete it you want to play more Portal.
– It isn’t Half Life: Episode 3.
– Still feels short.

Overall – 9/10

About

I'm Hato, born and raised in glorious New Zealand and a self-proclaimed awesome person. I started writing here in July and I'm loving it so far! I'm Metanorn's go-to Moe Man (lol) and the games guru, so don't be shy to say hello!
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28 Responses to “Game Review – Portal 2”

  1. Ruby says:

    YAY I’M FIRST!

    • Ruby says:

      Wow this game looks really intense! and the graphics are so high tech @_@ I guess I should add it to my playing list ;D

  2. Kyokai says:

    Heck yeah, Hato! Speedy review. You should do this more often. xD

  3. Tofu says:

    Hato… you are the best, have I ever told you that? xD

    PORTAL 2!!! OH SHIET!! DUDE, LET’S CO-OP MAN!! I fricken love this game (sadly, I’ve only seen youtube videos, mainly the Yogcast playing Portal 2) I’m planning on getting it so while we wait for everything to come along (money wise). I’ll let you figure out how WE can co-op this cause I only want to play co-op.

    It’s all good and stuff, there is nothing I can hate about this game but I’m a big scaredy cat so I’ll pass on the solo campaign…

    • Hato-kun says:

      Wait. What do you mean pass on the single player campaign…? If you don’t play the single player I’ll be on the next flight to Australia.

      • Will says:

        I’ll come with you Hato, skipping the solo is unforgivable.

        I’ll bring some Show ▼

  4. Foshizzel says:

    Portal2!! I didn’t play it officially but I Saw a complete video walk through! Awesome and funny stuff damn they did a pro job on all the voices and writing and the end song YES! 😀

    I would play it if I didn’t get motion sickness -_- ah well its cool!

    Nice quick review post Hato!

  5. MikADo says:

    I WANT TO PLAY PORTAL 2
    arrrrrrrgh why did it have to be released during my test season? whyyyyyyy!!! I want to see Glados so bad

  6. Dan-go says:

    ARRRGGH WHY ARE YOU $110 AND NOT PACKAGED WITH SEVERAL OTHER GAMES?!?!?

  7. Ness says:

    So expensive<_<; Good job on the reivew…. man that was fast! Compared to other things we give you to do =P hahahha. The ending song is nice!

  8. Dan-go says:

    ALSO HOW CAN YOU DENY THE COMPANION CUBE!!! I DENY YOU!

  9. Namika says:

    Oh wow. I was playing this with my best friend just now and was surprised to see the review for it here xD
    But man, this seems so simple at the first sight, but after playing a couple of hours, my head literally started to ache oO” This is such a mind twister! But I liked it so much *0*
    Those robots are so cute, I want one too xD

    • Hato-kun says:

      It’s super deceptive, isn’t it? Your head hurts whenever yo go through a portal and end up somewhere else and you’re like noooooooo

      • Namika says:

        xD yeah…. I didn’t think so much since I…… played Pray oO” I know, that’s pretty lame, but I hardly ever play any games. No! Amnesia was damn hard too… >.>

  10. chikorita157 says:

    Knowing that it’s Valve, they will probably make more challenging levels in future updates… and there is a level editor.

    As for me, I have the game for the Playstation 3, but not yet played it yet. The first game was really fun and the jokes were funny, I expect this to continue with the same thing.

    • Hato-kun says:

      It’s confirmed that the PC and PS3 versions will both receive any updates, DLC and extra maps for free because of Steam Works. Good choice on buying it on PS3, btw. You can redeem another copy on Steam!

    • Hato-kun says:

      it’s confirmed that PC and PS3 will get extra maps and updates free through Steam. 360 just gets to be laughed at. Mwahahaha.

  11. bobbierob says:

    Right when Portal 2 comes out, PlayStation Network poops out. Oh well, I blame POTaTOS.

    • Hato-kun says:

      SPOILERS SPOILERS.

      Plus, it’s PotaTOS.

    • Will says:

      I heard they’re rebuilding the whole thing from scratch, that may take a long time.
      These hacking crash tends to happen more on free services. Instead of stealing Microsoft points and XBox Lag accounts, hackers are crashing the systems because the accounts are pretty much worthless to them.

  12. Will says:

    Portal is my favorite game. I went trough the first one like 15 times and now I already completed the sequel 4 times >.< This is the most epic game ever.
    I watched the [email protected] until the counter reached 00:00 non-stop.

    If anyone want to play co-op, my steam user is wiill (or will97, can’t remember).

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