Portal 2 – Review

Published By: Valve Corporation, Developed By: Valve Corporation, Genre: Puzzle, Release Date: April 19, Rating: Everyone 10+, Platforms: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, MAC.

Presentation: Your back as the human test subject Chell from the critically acclaimed 2007 videogame Portal. For Portal 2 however, the chaos you caused from the first game is apparent inside the mega test factory known as Aperture Science Enrichment Center. After waking up in a motel room from  years of stasis a helpful quirky eyebot named Wheatley helps leads Chell to a Portal gun. What would a sequel to Portal be without GLaDOS. Well GLaDOS is back and with a larger role in Portal 2.

The story is stable throughout the single player campaign and finishes with an ending that is borderline legend. I don’t want to spoil any of the story so i will keep it clean. The main premise of Portal 2 is similar to Portal. Chell must live to escape Aperture Science Enrichment Center by completing puzzles using the portal gun. There are new characters added to Portal 2′s story that helps create a visceral enthralling single player campaign. You have Wheatley (the hilarious quirky eyebot) played by Stephen Merchant.

Cave Johnson Aperture Science CEO played by J.K Simmons is also a new character. All of the characters were great even in there disembodied state. The atmosphere of Portal 2 is much more varied with destroyed levels from aftermath Chell caused from the first game. There are foliage levels with moss, trees and grass. There are huge underground cave like structures and of course normal test chambers that you’re used to seeing from Portal.

This review for Portal 2 is for the Playstation 3 version. This version came with a full copy of Portal 2 for Steam. That is cool since the PC and Playstation 3 versions are compatible online with co-op etc. The neatest thing i enjoyed about this version as a console game is Steam integration. Pressing select lets you access Steam’s many features on the fly while playing Portal 2. Chat, check steam achievements or view global stats. Its seamless and worked perfectly. I really hope Valve does this with every Playstation 3 game they make.

Visuals: The Source engine is how old now? Portal 2 won’t wow you in the graphics department. However the game doesn’t look bad at all.  It looks pretty good. Most of my complaints have to do with some of the scenery, its drab. I’m mostly talking about the deeper bowls of Aperture Science during the cavern areas. The texture work is ok to average for the old Source engine. The physics during chamber construction was impressive. The Portal gun is always nice to look at for some strange reason i can’t explain. The lighting was decent. Portal 2 does look better than Portal on most facets but its not up to 2011 standards visually. Valve, time for a 2.0 Source Engine.
Portal 2
Sound: The actors, dialog, music and sound design were great. Seriously they were all great. From the performances of  Ellen McLain as GLaDOS to the witty hilarious Wheatley and Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson. You get a legitimate atmosphere and “felt” the voices even if they were robot potatoes or a voice recorder. The voice acting was phenomenal in Portal 2 and makes you want to stand still during gameplay and listen to whatever they have to say. The music was subtle oftentimes flowing in and out at the most opportune time during gameplay. The ending song was genius, phenomenal and horrible all at the same time.

Gameplay: The portal gun is the main gameplay element of Portal 2. You been there done that if you played Portal. You create two portals with two shots of the gun. One blue one orange. One portal is to enter and the other portal is to exit. You use your portal gun to escape and conquer a myriad of puzzles, tricks and traps. One of the things i was concerned about regarding Portal 2 was how are they gonna make the gameplay better. We all know you cannot make Portal 2 play exactly like Portal or it wouldn’t be a sequel.

So what Valve did was not only create a longer deeper story driven game but they added many objects,  gels and cubes. There are redirection cubes that you must use to control laserbeams. There are blue, white and orange gels that have different abilities for Chell to use. For instance some puzzles require you to jump high, run super fast or create portals on non portal surfaces. The gels are absolutely essential in beating some of the more complex puzzles. In some test chambers i had to use and incorporate all the gels.

Also new to Portal 2 are blue lightbeam walkways you can use with your portal gun to create bridges to walk on. There is also blue and yellow energy funnels that you can travel through or send gel through. Valve was smart adding these components to create a nice addition to the original Portal style of gameplay. The gameplay was really fun, engaging, and at times head scratching. I always had a sense of real accomplishment when i was able to beat a difficult puzzle. The boss fights were few and far between but the final boss fight was really entertaining.

Replayability: The single player campaign can last you anywhere from seven to ten hours  depending on how good you are at puzzles. The easter eggs achievements and trophies are plentiful. Its worth going back just to listen to the dialog again imo. I remember Portal for The Orange Box was more of a add on game. Portal 2 is a full fledged game with many hours of gameplay content. New to Portal 2 is the all new co-op campaign. Its a true separate campaign with different puzzles. Get a friend through steam or PSN (in my case) to play.

You can also play co-op split screen locally. If you have no friends, you can find one through steam on PC or PSN. In co-op you have four portals you can fire. The levels make good use of your cooperative skills and portal guns. If you don’t have a mic you can give orders to your co-op partner like where to shoot his or her portal or stand in a certain area etc. You can give each other gestures and just goof around if you want. Its really fun and doesn’t feel tacked on at all. And it adds to the replay value immensely.

Final Verdict: It may not be as innovative as the first Portal. Regardless, Portal 2 is the kind of game you will never forget. Valve was able to make a memorable, fun and challenging videogame with Portal 2. I will never forget that final boss fight, ending and that song during the credits. Thanks for reading.


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