Portal 2 review

Reviewed on Xbox 360; also available on PC and PS3.

Portal 2 and I got off to the best possible start, I think. After removing the wrapper from the game box, I suddenly remembered I had some leftover cake in the cupboard. I’d not even started playing, and I had already totally won the game.

Which was probably not the case at all for Valve Corp., going into the project. I mean, how do you possibly top or even equal what is widely considered by cool people who know what they’re talking about to be one of – if not the – best games released in the last five or ten years? Everybody’s already thinking with portals now – so where to next? I guess official Enrichment Centre protocol requires that we just keep on testing to find out.

There’s a story, and it’s a pretty good one. I won’t say anything more about it, lest I inadvertently blow the punchline or something, but suffice it to say that – as promised – GLaDOS is still very much alive, and doing science, or whatever passes for science over at Aperture Laboratories. She’s also got just a bit of a grudge against you now, what with that whole murdering incident and everything. You monster, etc.

Fundamentally, the gameplay is more or less the same as the first time around – so you’ll be mostly busy hurling yourself through time-space via a series of orange and blue portals – although the sequel adds a bunch of new stuff to keep your Voluntary Mandatory Personal Aptitude Evaluation interesting, and presumably more scientifically relevant (or whatever). Again, describing any of this in further detail would spoil it somewhat, and instead I’ll say only that it’s hard now to imagine how the first game managed without.

There’s also an entirely separate co-operative campaign, supporting local split-screen (on console only) and online multiplayer. And rather than a sort of cynical supplementary extra to make up for the “short” 6-8 hour single player campaign, it’s possibly the most ingenious co-op mode I’ve ever played. The puzzles are significantly harder here, and you’ll quickly learn to hate Emancipation Grills with the fires of a thousand Emergency Intelligence Incinerators. Just choose your co-op accomplice very carefully, because you’ll really have to rely on one another’s competence at times.

While the interface hasn’t changed much at all, the designers have added a zoom function for easier placement of portals at range, as well as portal outlines that show up through environmental obstacles so you can keep track of which colour is where.

Some mention really should be made of the extraordinary voice acting – reprising her instantly iconic role as GLaDOS, Ellen McLain is, of course, superlative as expected, but Stephen Merchant arguably steals the show as Wheatley the ad-libbing Personality Core.

Simply enough then, Portal 2 is a great success. It’s immensely clever, it’s funny, it’s occasionally very devious, it’s still quite unlike anything else, and it might even be better than the first one.

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  • jamankin

    Portal2 is brilliant, a clever thought out experience that at the end leaves you a tad sad, cant explain it really, obviously sad that the game is over but i feel i have a very strong emotional connection to the game, heres hoping thay make Portal3 🙂

  • Ghost

    I must admit that I really don't get Valve games. Well, I really enjoyed LANing CS but the only other Valve game I've played is Half Life 2 which I just couldn't get into. I've haven't played either Portal. I'm thinking about getting the first Portal. If I didn't enjoy Half Life, would I still enjoy this game?

  • Ghost

    *I haven't

  • St3baS

    This game is brilliant!! 🙂 sad that it ended though but sheesh, all the new features are awesome 🙂

    @Ghost: This game is nothing like Half-life… Or any other game for that matter.. Its a First Person Puzzler , so dont expect gun fights and the liking.

  • Dax

    @Ghost: From the sounds of things you only like shooting people in the face, and not just any people, your friends.

    If you can't get into Half-Life 2 that means your patience for games is pretty small, I doubt you'd be able to get into Deus Ex as well, which required patience but it's the best game in the world, ever (PCGamer) and I agree.

    Anyway, Portal is a puzzle game, you have one gun, as you know, and it shoots portals, two of them and you can walk through those two portals.. Other than that there is a GREAT storyline behind it, but as I said, Half-Life also has an amazing storyline, but you didn't seem very interested, so I'd be worried you wouldn't get into it for that.. You should also be prepared to stand around thinking about the level you've been thrown into from time to time and just plan, until you think you've found a solution and then place your portals appropriately.

    So to sum up, if you want to start taking some time out of your day of shooting people in the noggin, and appreciate games that require lateral thinking and genuine appreciation for the script and story, then Portal would be a good place to start developing that patience you require.

    🙂

  • Fred

    Better than the first for sure , miles better.

  • Sou1Co11ector

    @Ghost

    GET PORTAL!
    It is seriously one of the most original games you haven't played yet.

    And it being only 2 – 2.5 hours long it won't cost you a large portion of your life if you don't like it.

    BTW if you don't like it there is something wrong with you xD

  • The_Assimilator

    Portal 2 was great except for the fact that the Source engine is really showing its age, and the fact the game has zero replay value.

  • TiNRiB

    @Ghost
    Get the Orange Box, it's still the best deal in the history of video games!

  • Juice[CHKNHD]

    Just finished Portal 2 this afternoon. It's one of the best and most engaging games I've ever played. The scale of some of the levels was staggering and the puzzles were awesome. I loved the side-plot enfolding the puzzle levels. One of the best things about this game is the humour. Humour everywhere, and especially in the voice acting. The end credits are some of the best I'd seen in a game. I LOVED this game.

  • igloonaut

    Co-op in Portal 2 is wicked! You will have a proper laugh at the characters, and when you and your co-op mate figure out some of the challenging puzzles, which seem more challenging because my co-op buddy and I could not figure out who should go first. We resorted to using the built-in Ching, Chong Cha gestures to decide – A clever addition to the gestures.

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