portal22

The bitch is back…

It’s so refreshing when a game that is different, intelligent, and doesn’t play like Call of Duty enters the gaming charts these days.  After Valve brought us Portal as part of the Orange Box back in 2007, its full-length sequel was released in April and is actually still in the charts today.

The concept of this puzzle-platformer is wonderfully simple.  You have a portal gun. You can shoot red and blue portals that link with each other.  Now try and get through a series of test chambers by teleporting yourself and other objects around the room, whilst trying to avoid persistent (yet oddly cute) turrets and lasers.

One of the best things about Portal 2 is its great sense of dark humour.  The initial antagonist of the game, GLaDOS has some of the best one-liners in any game ever – she really knows how to be a sarcastic bitch, and heck – I aspire to be like her some day.  Stephen Merchant is absolutely hilarious as the voice of Wheatley – I was worried that I’d find his fast-paced jibber jabber rather annoying after the first couple of chapters but I grew to love him, and realised just how perfectly his voice suited the personality of the character.

The main selling point to the game is the fact that it is innovative and quirky.  The gameplay of Portal 2 is identical to that of its predecessor although this time round, there are some ingenious new elements to play with, making the puzzle solving even more challenging.  Along with new types of cubes, Light Bridges and Thermal Discouragement Beams, there are three types of ‘gels’ that can be teleported about the place to make jumping or sliding easier.  I personally found one of the test chambers involving the orange Propulsion gel pretty tricky – and as is standard with any of the puzzles in Portal 2, I felt like an utter twat for not working out what had to be done sooner.  If you ever get stuck in an area or during a test chamber in this game I guarantee that you’ll be infuriated at how obvious the answer to puzzle will be.

Once you’ve completed the single player campaign (which has an…out of this world ending) there are also a series of test chambers to complete with a friend in co-op mode, involving two new characters, Atlas and P-Body, each with their own portal gun.  The co-op levels are in fact even more challenging than the single player levels, and you really have to think and work together to reach the exits.  The two robots can also interact with each other, and have their own personalities and mannerisms.

The only complaint I have to make about the game is that it’s all over too quickly, particularly if you only play the single player campaign.  There is also very little replay value – once you know how to solve each test chamber there is little point to playing through the entire game again.  It can also be very tiresome playing through the co-op levels with someone who hasn’t ever played the game before, as you’ll be dragging them through the levels in frustration.  Trying to solve the tests together as a duo is the entire point of the co-op campaign and it spoils it if one person already knows how to complete it.

Although short, Portal 2 is well worth a purchase, and it proves that there is still a market for games that push the mainstream bounderies and dare to be different.