Saturday, July 28, 2012

Alexander Pulls Out His... Portal Gun?

"Alexander pulls out his magic map..."

Wasn’t This About Portal 2?:   
Okay, so that picture has nothing to do with Portal 2 and neither does Alexander.  Alexander and his magic map are actually from a game called King’s Quest VI, which was released in 1992 for MS-DOS on twelve floppy discs.  So what’s the connection between two games that were released ten years apart from each other?  Well, while I was playing Portal 2, I kept being reminded of this game because the humor was so similar.  King’s Quest VI is in the genre I like to call “So-Funny-It-Lures-You-Into-Complacency-And-Then-Kills-You”.  The name is still a work in progress, okay?  It’s hard to think of a particular instance when this happens, because it’s more of an overall feel.  The whole King’s Quest series is full of humor, but on the other hand, you can also accidentally die for really stupid reasons, like walking too far into the ocean, walking off a bridge, etc.  

At first, Portal 2 seemed like a pretty goofy, safe game where you solved these chambers with the help of your portal gun and various other props, such as weighted cubes, buttons, and my personal favorite, Repulsion Gel, which is like Flubber.  I kept feeling safe in this game (and pretty awesome with my cool gun), until that first time I died.  From that point on, I fell to my death, got shot by turrets, got smashed and also drowned in weird goo more times than I’d like to count, yet after each chamber, the AI that runs the station (GLaDOS), always had something snarky to say.  It’s an interesting contrast that I haven’t seen in some time.  Anyway, now that my randomness is over with, we can get on with the review.


 The original Portal game left big shoes to fill, winning awards for Best Puzzle Game, Best New Character, Funniest Game, Game of the Year, and even Best End Credit Song.  (And let’s be honest, the song Still Alive is really good.)  I played the original Portal after I played the second one, but in my opinion, it more than measures up to it’s predecessor.  Let’s take a look at what I think makes it so good.  

Reasons The Cake Is Not A Lie: 

Frustrating, Yet Somehow Enjoyable

One of the greatest things about Portal 2 was, of course, the puzzles themselves.  For the first half of the game, I found most puzzles only slightly mind-bending, but as it went on it kept getting harder and at times very frustrating.  Yet for some reason, I couldn’t stay away for very long and kept coming back and looking at the room with a different perspective, trying everything I could think of to get to that door.  It was the really difficult ones that were the most satisfying, because even if the solution ended up being simple, it made you feel amazing to have figured it out yourself.  Or, you know, maybe with a hint from a Youtube video.  

Anyway, the way that this game makes you feel so smart and so dumb at the same time is great, and it really speaks of the quality of the work that went into the design of the levels. 


The ever-faithful companion.
The amount of characters in Portal 2 is exactly three, including the one that you play (Though she isn’t voiced).  Four, if you want to count the companion cube (Sorry, but it’s not voiced, either).  However, what Portal 2 lacks in quantity of characters, it makes up for in quality.  The dialogue is hilarious, and the acting is superb and very natural, which is funny, considering that the characters are computers.  Even as computers, they’re very unique characters.  GLaDOS is insulting, yet clever, and Wheatley is the definition of the word "adorkable"  

The music is also very fitting with its electronic sound, and it greatly adds to the pressure that you feel to solve the puzzles as quickly as possible.    

Simple Plot, Yet Intelligent

This one speaks for itself.  The plot was pretty simple and obviously very linear, but there was also a well done twist that I wasn’t really expecting, and it was still pleasant to play.

Reasons The Cake IS, In Fact, A Lie:

Lack of Replay-ability 

This is sort of a half-hearted criticism, but still valid.  With such a linear plot and carefully designed chambers, once you’ve got them figured out, it’s too easy to finish them again to make it worth playing the whole game through more than once.  The commentary is worthwhile, and the multiplayer levels are totally different, but the only thing that would really draw me into playing the whole campaign again would be the dialogue, which is pretty memorable anyway.  

But… I Wanna Know More!

I realize that Portal 2 is not an RPG title, and thus not too many story elements are introduced, but the ones that were taunted me just enough that I wanted more to be revealed.  I don’t know if a third installment in the Portal series is in the works (I hope so), but if it is, I hope it expands more on the Aperture Science facility, the other test subjects, and especially the player character.  I didn’t even know the name of the lady I was playing until after I had finished both games and saw a comment on Youtube that mentioned the name Chell.  Turns out the player character is, in fact, named Chell, but I didn’t hear it once in either game.  The mysteries are part of the appeal, but I’d really like for a few to be solved if a third game comes out.

In Conclusion: 

Portal 2 is an awesome game that’s definitely worth the price ($20 on Steam, the last I looked).  It’s a reasonably long game, especially if you’re one of those people who would rather spend days figuring out a puzzle yourself than looking up a hint.  It’s entertaining, creative, and most importantly, a lot of fun.  So what are you waiting for?  Go check it out!    

No comments:

Post a Comment