Monday, June 3, 2013

Games Thirst Review: Portal 2

Portal 2 is the sequel to one of the most innovative games of 2007, and maybe this generation. It took the idea of shooting holes into walls and made one of the most fun and addicting puzzle games that has ever been made. It quickly turned into a hit, and now Portal 2 has set out to recreate the magic from the first game, while creating new innovations in puzzle solving.

In the game, you retake the role of Chell, who wakes up in a decaying Aperture Science, and is stuck in a stasis chamber. With the help of  Wheatley, who is your new one eyed robot friend, you escape from the chamber and try to find your way out, but in doing so, you accidently reawaken a very moody GLaDOS, who wants to seek a slow revenge on you. This begins the second journey of Chell on her quest for freedom.

What Quenched My Thirst

From the beginning, Portal 2 shows that puzzle solving has never been more fun. It uses the already great Portal mechanics to create some of the most mind breaking puzzles that one can experience in a game. The puzzles are well thought out and at times can present a real challenge. The developers do a great job at gradually making the puzzles harder. They allow you to become very familiar with the portal gun and how it works, before thrusting you into a hard puzzle.

These puzzles will require you to actually walk around and pay close attention to the different aspects of the level. I find that it is best to go and push every button possible before even attempting to complete the puzzle. It gives you a great starting point, and lets you know what everything does.

Another way they improved the game is the removal of some of the more irritating sections from the first game. The best example of this is the removal of timed sections. These sections became tedious, and even frustrating at times. By removing these sections, it allows the player to use their mind more, take their time, and not feel as if the game is rushing them along.

The best parts about the game are the things that they added. In order to make it through many of the levels, you must master these gels that offer different ways of helping: the blue gel allows you to jump higher, the orange gel allows you to run faster, and the while gel allows you to shoot portals where ever it is covering. In many places, you will have to use all three gels to complete the puzzle. It offers a new challenge and keeps the game fresh throughout.

Not only is the gameplay masterful, but the writing is as well. This game has some of the best writing I have come across in a while. The characters are extremely funny and they will have you laughing all the way through the game. The wonderful writing is accompanied by top-notch voice acting that brings the robots to life, if that is even possible. The story is well written, and will keep you engaged throughout the game. It has plenty of twists and turns that you will not see coming, and keeps you wanting more.

The visuals are top notch as well. The decaying, apocalyptic look of Aperture Science really sets the mood for the game. You are taken to the deepest, darkest parts of the facility to bright futuristic testing chambers that GLaDOS’s evil computer mind puts together. The graphics may not blow you away, but their unique art style will keep you wanting more as you traverse the levels. It is colorful, and eye-catching. The scale of some of the levels will make you stop and look around, and just stare in awe. I did not know what to expect from the graphics, but I was extremely pleased with everything, and it is probably one of my favorite art styles in a game.

The newly added co-op feature is a fantastic new way to experience Portal. After playing the co-op, I have grown an addiction to it. It is fun, and does a great job of making sure that you have to work together to complete the task. This requires you to communicate a lot, so I would make sure to play with a friend who has a headset, or be sure to ask if the person you’re playing with has a headset. I also never experienced any lag while playing online.

There is also a great mode called commentary. In this mode, you can play through the single player and co-op levels of the game and listen to commentary from the developers on why they chose to do what they did. You will see orange text boxes floating in the levels and all you have to do is press the action button while pointing at them, and a voice recording will start that gives you info about the game. I appreciate the developers doing this because I love to hear why they chose to do something, and how they did it, and it is great to hear it while I am playing the game. The only downside is that you cannot save your progress while in this mode, but you can choose each level separately.

What left a Bitter Taste

The only problem with the game is the replay value. Once you beat the levels, there is not much to go back too, other than the great story. There are a few hidden rooms, but that is about it. The co-op does offer some replay value, and is fun to play through a few times with your friends.

Water Scale

Portal 2 is an amazing game that will not disappoint. The campaign will take you 7-10 hours to beat, maybe shorter or longer depending on how fast you are able to complete the puzzles. The co-op adds a lot of extra playtime, and is a great experience when you play with friends. Overall, Portal 2 offers a game with a great art style, amazing writing and voice acting, and some of the most fun you will ever have using your brain.

9.5/10

Developer: Valve

Platforms: PS3, PC, Xbox 360

Release Date: April 19, 2011

About Joshua Tompkins

  • http://www.gamesthirst.com Ernice Gilbert

    Excellent review, Josh. It would seem Valve’s gone the extra mile with this one. And with everyone talking up the game’s story and dialogue, something I think that’s been missing in games, Portal 2′s looking like a must buy for me!

  • Joseph Garrett

    And here I am still waiting for it to be released in the UK. Should be a crime to make us wait.

    Great review.

  • nick

    I LOVE THIS GAME!

    Ernice Gilbert Reply:

    :-)

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