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Portal 2 Review
publisher: Valve Software
developer: Valve Software
|ESRB rating: E10+
release date: Apr 19, 11 (released)
|» All About Portal 2 on ActionTrip|
When Valve launches a title like Portal 2, you bet your life the news will spread like wild fire throughout the gaming community. These days Valve is recognized not only for making top-quality video games, but for operating one of the most popular digital distribution services for games and game-related content (i.e. Steam). The decision to isolate Portal from the famous Orange Box was a well-founded. Apart from containing three excellent titles in one release, The Orange Box stands as one of the best video game packages ever. Half-Life 2: Episode Two was the main interest for many gamers, albeit it was also Portal's unique atmosphere and its brilliant design philosophy that ultimately made the whole thing such an irresistible purchase. Our initial disappointment with Valve's reluctance to announce a new Half-Life game quickly dwindled thanks to the prospects of Portal 2 (well, they haven't dwindled completely, that is...we still want a new Half-Life game and we want it now).
Kind of reminds me of my office, this.
Can't we all just... get along.
As far as the setting goes, Vavle is impeccable, maintaining the traditional alluring ambiance of the Half-Life series and engulfing the player in the same mysterious universe. If you're a Half-Life or Portal fan, you'll be hooked right from the start, as you make your very first steps through the test chambers. Players control Chell, who was also the main character in the previous Portal game. After the triumph over GLaDOS, the super-advanced AI system controlling the Aperture Science facility, you were dragged to a special chamber for crystorage. You awake many years later in what appears to be a hotel room. After a few basic cognitive tests, you realize you're still inside the testing facility, as the guiding voice of a personality core starts moving the entire room across a gigantic warehouse. Making your way slowly through the facility you come across the essential Portal Gun and you meet an "old friend." Yep, it's GLaDOS, she's back and she's "slightly" upset after your previous encounter.
The game is divided into two separate segments - single-player and coop. Players can have a bash at the single-player story mode, which takes them through a series of test chambers, crammed with a variety of traps and puzzles that require different problem-solving skills. The single-player campaign is split into chapters and it takes a while to get through all of them. The first playthrough is, of course, the best. Assessing each problem carefully and coming up with potential solutions to reach the exit and finally witnessing your strategy at work. Portal 2 makes you think and not many games can boast about that. Not only does it make you think, but it makes you laugh as well. Again, that's another facet few games can claim these days. Puzzles vary, as do the circumstances in which you solve them. It's rarely easy, but it's never too difficult. The game was optimized for all audiences. Naturally, how fast you move through the chambers will depend on how fast you think and come up with solutions.
The best bit about Portal 2 is that it introduces a variety of fresh elements to the already successful formula of the original. In addition to toying around with the usual physics-based puzzles and the combination of entrance and exit portals, the game now also hurls you into areas with three different types of experimental liquids. These were brought to you by the brilliant minds of Aperture Science. These include the Propulsion Gel, which allows the main character to increase speed when crossing the surface. Next off, there's the Repulsion Gel that makes your jumps considerably higher. And finally, the Conversion Gel; just splash this one across surfaces where it would otherwise be impossible to apply portals. Pretty neat, I must say. The fun really gets going when you start combining all three to reach your goal.
I love strolling through the Aperture Science facility. Black Mesa, eat your heart out.
This one's easier than it looks.
When you're done with the main campaign, you're gonna want to give the cooperative mode a try, because it's definitely a different experience. The areas are new, the puzzles are new and you get to play as two robots. GLaDOS observes as you and your robotic friend make it through a series of test chambers. Each challenge was specifically designed for two players and going through them is even more fun than completing puzzles in the single-player mode. The really cool part is that the coop allows for some completely awesome and at times utterly hilarious moments. There's endless fun to be had here, weather you're solving the puzzles together or just taking the time to goof around and set traps for one another. It's also quite commendable that solving puzzles in coop is a bit more difficult than in the solo mode. Mind you, Valve's sleek, easy-to-learn formula has been put to use here as well, allowing you to get into practice quickly so you can tackle some of the more serious puzzles that await.
Portal 2 is, in short, a terrific game, throwing you headfirst into a realm of intense and brain-teasing puzzles and great humor. The story is richer this time around too. The trademark Half-Life style atmosphere is there... we feel it, oh yes we do, as much as we felt the magic that made the previous Portal game so exciting to play. Things were spiced up with the robot-flavored coop mode, which we highly recommend to any gamers who are on the lookout for a decent challenge in addition to some serious giggling. Some may miss more competitive aspects such as leaderboards, but that doesn't mean they should sit this one out. If anybody had something bad to say about this game, well, don't be misled by it. You should buy this game. It's worth every penny.
Feels like they've improved the original in every way, challenging, funny and ever more engaging in coop, terrific ambiance, evoking the charm of Portal 1 and, of course, the Half-Life series;
Single-player's maybe not lengthy as we hoped, lack of leaderboards for players who are out for competitive multiplayer.
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