For those who have been living under a mountain, this game is the sequel to 2007 Game of the Year, Portal. And that game was voted Game of the Year by 30 different publications and award shows. How does one come back and provide after such a big reception? Valve did, and then some. Hit the break to read the rest of the review!
I can’t speak much of the story without instantly spoiling some of the magic that it includes but just know that anyone who has played Portal before will feel right at home from the second the game turns on, but for those who haven’t the game eases you into it. Valve’s great writing and humor is apparent from the start when a robotic companion Wheatly asks you to say something by hitting the “A” button. Unfortunately, Chell is a silent protagonist so that button causes you to jump in the air instead and then Wheatly tries to assure you that you don’t have a minor case of major brain damage. This humor continues throughout the game, gamers will find themselves completing tests just to hear the next thing that GLaDOS has to say in a weird sort of irony.
The real beauty of Portal 2 is how the game teaches you to think with portals, and gels. With the addition of 3 new types of gel; bouncy gel, speed gel and portal gel I thought I was going to be completely overwhelmed with how to solve puzzles but Valve’s greatest legacy is slowly teaching the player how to use each one of these along with portals to solve puzzle. Portal 2 also throws in panels that throw you across the room, light bridges and floating tunnels but all of these are carefully explained and laid out so that you can learn to use them to get yourself out of Aperture Science and back into the real world. It’s just amazing to think about how the game walks you through how to use each one of these mechanics without telling you specifically what to do. It’s a feat that no other game, puzzle or not, has been able to achieve.
The single player campaign took me about 8 hours but I would say that it ends up being somewhere around 9 to 10 for anyone who has never played a Portal game before. It does take some figuring out but that learning curve can be cut down greatly by playing the first game. Considering that first game’s campaign took only an hour and a half to beat on a slow run, this is a huge improvement. There’s also a co-op campaign completely separate from the single player where you and your buddy can get online, or split screen and take control of two robots that run tests for GLaDOS in the testing center. 4 portals running at one time along with gel, bridges and faith plates gets pretty crazy at times and good communication is key to completing the whole thing. The final level took my friend and I, two seasoned Portal players about 40 minutes to fully figure out and pull of successfully. The whole co-op campaign adds about 6-7 hours of playtime to the game so Portal 2 is packing a large amount of playtime inside it’s disc which I know was a big concern for most people. No need to worry there.
I can’t find anything wrong to write about in this review. There is nothing in this game that stands out to me as a glaring mistake or something that Valve didn’t do right. This game is polished. Everything is there for a reason and everything just works, which seems rare these days in games. I haven’t found a feeling in video games yet that matches the feeling when I walk into a huge testing chamber in Portal 2 knowing that I have to get across the room by my own ingenuity. Every chamber has it’s own “Ah-hah” moments that just make the game so much fun. It’s almost indescribable through words and the only way I can suggest to find out how it feels is to go out and purchase the game. The moment when you find that GLaDOS is "still alive" and she reanimates in front of you gave me chills. The story is done so well and has the perfect balance of what you expect from Portal and surprises that is literally impossible to stop. Even when you do find the strength to put the controller down you'll be thinking about how to solve the room you saved in when you are away from your console. If you are any kind of self-respecting video gamer looking for a new game to try out, Portal 2 should be on the top of your list.
Final Score: 5.5 out of 5. Lunacy! (Yeah, that just happened)