When Portal was originally released in 2007 it was a sleeper hit. No one knew about it, it was some small indie game developed by some digipen students (recreated by the same team when valve scooped them up), and it was released in an Xbox 360 exclusive party pack. No one had a clue that it would spark such a huge cult following and be regarded as one of the single most casually greatest games of all time. The game hardly even recognizes its own existence among its subtlety, and that is what led to it selling over 4 million copies.
Portal 2 picks up right where Portal left off. Chell wakes up from cryo –esque sleep and is engulfed into this wonderful new world of Aperture Science unplugged. The story is a very tightly nit one with many twists and turns. Normally I would elaborate a bit, but even the slightest reference (except the above) would take a lot away from your very own experience. But I will say that I put it right up there with Valve’s Half-Life story.
The game play is very similar to the original. However there are some added elements: The blue and bouncy Propulsion Gel, the orange and slippery Repulsion Gel, and the white and ….wall-e Conversion Gel which turns un-portal-able surface into usable ones. They also introduce Light bridges and Aerial Faith plates as acquirable tools at opportune times.
Portal 2 is a puzzle game just like the first one, but what really took me by surprise was the script. A big portion of the game, potentially the biggest, is what you hear and not necessarily what you see or do. The characters in this game make you want to just keep on trucking through. And the dark, sinister humor and comedic timing were perfect in this first person comedy. Along with the Laugh-out-loud (really) humor is the robust story told throughout the game. The script has a lot of girth and I encourage you to listen to as much of it as you can. The writers Erik Wolpaw and Jay Pinkerton take the storytelling aspect of a FPP to a whole new level by creating an almost dialogue driven game. Not to take away from the brilliant puzzles, but we all know we want lore and we want references.
The game is decently longer than the original, I beat it in about 10 hours. That is with exploring each blocked off hallway and reaching every obscure portal-able surface off in the distance. Of course it wasn’t hard to spend ten minutes just looking around in one room at all of the little insights and jokes either scribbled or posted on the walls. Though some of the scribbles may have been hard to read, the graphics in this game really were wonderful. Updated a bit from the first installment, Valve really shows the power of their Source engine.
Portal 2 take us on a fantastical journey into the dark dwellings of what we think is funny, and gives us plenty of nerd forum fodder to last us a decade while taking Gordon Freeman’s future off of our minds for the time being. There is no reason for even the most casual of gamers to not like this game and I recommend it to everyone.