Portal 2, A(n in)formal* review

Portal 2 was released at about roughly 1:30 am EST standard time on Tuesday April 21st. As of, 1:00 am Thursday,April 23rd, I had complete both the single player and co-op versions of the game. All I can say about the game at this point is:

PORTAL 2 IS FUCKING AWESOME.

Ahem…I mean…

Despite escaping  in the first game, Chell is back for more science related fun at Aperture Science. Sometimes game sequels are less than awesome when following up hugely popular predecessors, but where portal ended, Portal 2 picks up with a bang and a new twist on science based testing.

Though Portal was both a creative and well executed game, it was also short. I’ve played both the single player and co-op version of the game and I can personally say, though it took me only two days to beat, it is much longer and much more difficult than the original game. With the addition of new game mechanics (propulsion and repulsion gels) and testing areas that are less than lab tidy, Portal 2 takes what we all love about Portal and ramps it up.

Orange Goop!

singleplayer

When we first start off the game, after a small review of the game controls, we find Chell has been awoken after a long period of hibernation. We are then introduced to my favorite character Wheatley (mostly because he’s funny, partially because he has a hot accent) who shows us through the facilities and gives us a small overview of what has happened since the conclusion of the first game. We learn that GLaDOS was “destroyed” by a human and since the lab has basically fallen into decay and left alone, as such it I falling apart and has been overrun by nature.

Wheatley tells us he knows a way out but in order to do that we’d have to go through GLaDOS’s main chamber. Once inside the main chamber we find she is still in ruins, to Wheatley’s surprise and excitement, and head off to a main control room to escape. However, it is here Wheatley anciently restarts GLaDOS and the adventure begins. I won’t say much after that as it is possibly a spoiler, but Portal 2 offers the same portal based fun as the original game.

GLaDOS can get a bit wordy as it seems she chimes in and says something  completely off the wall and hilarious at the beginning of every new test chamber. She called me fat a couple of times…*tear* It could be an issue for some people, the wordiness not the name-calling though that might turn some people to emotional eating, but I found it to be fun and engaging. Lots of quotable quotes.

My favorite part of the singleplayer however was learning GLaDOS’s origins a well as getting a look at the older part of Aperture Science testing facilities, which is where we get to use the new gels. The older test areas of Aperture science are not only fun but aesthetically they are brilliant. I think I like them more than I do the clean lab surfaces of other testing chambers. They are deteriorated, rusted, abandoned, boarded up, inaccessible, and perfect for portal exploration and testing.

I will say this though, the ending to the game is kinda madness. I guess that’s where the achievement “Lunacy” comes from. It’s insane, in a good way. Took me a LOONG time to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do, but once I did…man. Crazy.

Also, there’s a potato on my portal gun. Heh. That’s mah favorite part as well.

Co-op

Co-Op test chamber where one can earn the "Portal Conservation Society" achievement

Portal 2’s multiplayer co-op was heaps of fun. It’s almost an entirely different game in terms of plot. First no longer are we a mysteriously mute human player fighting a super intelligent and malevolent A.I., we are ourselves robots who are working alongside said A.I.

In Portal CO-op there are six test chambers, all of which incorporate one new gameplay mechanism. Hard Light surfaces, Repulsion gel and momentum all show up in portal co -op.  There’s really not much to say about it other than it’s Portal 2, with a friend!

You each get your own dual portal guns and have to maneuver testing chambers that require two brains to solve. Many of them involve the potential death of your partner (or you) but all of them are fun.

The one downside to portal co-op is that once you beat it, there’s nothing more. Where other multiplayer games might offer an increased difficulty or downloadable content , Portal 2 stops dead and just offers a replay of what you’ve already done. I’ve gone back with a friend for the exclusive purpose of earning achievements for the game, but outside of that its the same puzzles with no variance.

I also had the misfortune of playing with a friend that had already beaten the entire co-op game and as such knew how to solve all the puzzles. We went through three puzzles before I had to say “no mas” because I was basically being dragged through the game without getting to experience it.

Still, Portal co-op was immensely fun and the experience does change from partner to partner. I’ve had partners that knew what they were doing and were on the game 100% of the time. We solves puzzles in two minutes a piece. Then I’ve had partners with whom I had to stop and give them a second to figure it out because I didn’t want to ruin the game for them and also I didn’t want to have to do all the work.

Still, it is fun to watch your partner walk across a hard light bridge and have them drop into a crusher or nasty ass water because you “accidentally” moved your portal. Heh. Good times.

Conclusion

Portal 2 is an excellent sequel to its predecessor. It includes all of the things we loved about Portal to begin with and added some new stuff to make us love it anymore. Despite the wordiness of the characters and the limitations to Co-Op, it’s still one of the best games I’ve played in a while.  I’m hoping valve will add more test chambers to the Co-Op HUB as it adds new campaigns to L4D2 (hopefully on a more regular basis *cough*) or at least add the option to play custom test chambers. Or perhaps just make Co-op increasingly difficult the more you play it. Beat it once? no problem, do it again…except this time you’re only allowed ten portals per chamber. Yeah.

If you’ve played Portal 2, what are your thoughts? What would YOU like to have seen in the game?

*I say informal because I am in no way a game reviewer and as such I dont cover stuff you actually might want to know, I just say things like..the game is super fun buy it.


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