Review – Portal 2

 Portal 2 hit the shelves recently, here is the TGD review for one of 2011’s hottest games!

Back in 2007, Valve launched a sweet bundle of games in ‘The Orange Box’. Containing previous and a new instalment of the Half Life 2 series of games, a second version of the multiplayer classic Team Fortress and a brand new game called Portal. Portal brought the players laugh-out-loud humour, mind-bending puzzles and a lovable cube. Portal 2 brings us back more of that same award winning formula in a fully fleshed out game for PC & console players alike.

So obviously Valve would have to offer more than the last game did, so what’s included?

Story

There is two parts to this (believe it or not!), there’s the Single Player and the Co-Op storylines to playthrough. Firstly, the Single player side of it.

Hot off the heels from the ‘added’ ending on Portal, our heroine test subject is rudely awakened from a 200 year sleep by an automated announcer, this is a small tutorial of how to move around and such. Eventually, the player meets Wheatley. Wheatley (voiced by Stephen Merchant) is a personality core developed by GLaDOS, you and him attempt to rescue you and escape the testing facility along with the infamous Portal gun. Sadly, it’s not just as easy as that! Escaping is sidetracked by entering the semi-destroyed GLaDOS lair where a major accident occurs, resulting in the rebooting of GLaDOS! The story is similar to what players have experienced before, entering a test chamber, solving it and then followed by the next test chamber.  New and unseen feature’s are there to interact with in the chambers so there isn’t a chance you’d be playing the same level over and over. After a small while of tedious testing, Wheatley meets you and opens an escape route for you from the testing GLaDOS put you through, this escape plan may not be the best but now you’ve got to deal with GLaDOS as well as escaping!

The co-op story mode is set just after the single player storyline, so it is advisable for the players to try and finish the single player portion first. Co-op can be played with a friend or anyone else across the internet, however it is best experienced with a  friend. I completed most of the story with our very own MintagedVortex! It was a fresh, challenging experience that let out minds run overtime with the menacing tests that were presented to us, some were easier to solve than others. Some took many retries and failures to eventually solve the chambers. the setting is no different to the single player and doesn’t interfere with the main single player story, so there won’t be many spoilers meaning you can play the co-op mode first if you wanted! It was just as fun as the main single player story, the co-op mode must simply be completed with a friend!

Gameplay

Gameplay mechanics really aren’t afar from what the first portal brought to the player, puzzles with increasing difficulty and growingly expansive environments. Of course,  there’s new toys and objects to mix it up in the chambers so there’s no way you’d be completing something similar to the previous test you exited. But what Portal is, is. It’s not meant to be another generic shoot ’em up, it brings lovable gameplay with interesting puzzles to keep you entertained. If that isn’t for you, stay away from the Portal games! The Puzzles are interesting, immersive and challenging as they get further down the line, the co-op mode can make (and possibly break) friendships stronger as you figure out what Portal goes where and does what. Solid puzzling gameplay with new twists to keep the players interested and not thinking they’re just playing another Portal 1.

Graphics and Sound

Valve is still running it’s popular games engine ‘Source’  in Portal 2, but has been brought up to speed with the current completion such as the Unreal engine. The graphics have had a fair overhaul since Portal 1, titling and texturing looks cleaner than the 2007 engine and everything looks just neater. The destruction of environments is probably what impressed me mostly, shifting chambers as they crumbled looked awesome as falling tiles smashed into pieces and looked realistic enough so every time that level is fired up again, the destruction won’t be the same. The overgrowth of plants and ageing looked very realistic too as players explore further into the testing fatality.

Sound is portrayed in a very good atmospheric piece. The music is fairly similar to the first game’s music, but it suits perfectly as glitchy synths and beats play in the background. There is of course a variety of music than the official glitchy soundtrack, there’s an official song from indie rockers ‘The National’ and another song by Jonathan Coulton sang by GLaDOS. The sound is another excellent atmosphere building effect that is spot on for this game


Pros:

  • More mind bending puzzles
  • Laugh-out-loud comedy with heart
  • Co-op mode brings testing & friendships together

Cons:

  • Fairly short single player story
  • Buying expensive add-on content purely for cosmetics
  • Losing the companion cube once again..

Verdict:

Without a doubt this is a must buy, it has minor flaws but that doesn’t degrade from what it is. Portal 2 is full of fun, challenges and outrageousness. 

This game is worth every penny if you did enjoy the previous game, but if you weren’t so much of a fan of the last don’t expect too much change in the gameplay area, but co-op is a nice bonus if your willing to try it again.

Solid gameplay, hilarious dialogue and sheer brilliance make this game a true must buy title this year!

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About David Wheeler
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