Portal 2 Review

Developer: Valve

Publisher: Valve

Release Date: April 18, 2011

Genre: Puzzle, Platform

Console: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC

Players: 1-2.  Co-op 2 (online and local)

Rating: E 10+ (Fantasy violence, Mild Language)

-Phoenix Robbins

“Well done.  Here are the test results:  You are a horrible person.  I’m serious; that’s what it says:  ‘A horrible person.’ We weren’t even testing for that.”

When I first borrowed this game from a friend, I didn’t expect much but I had never played the first one (crazy, I know) so I didn’t really know what to expect.  I had heard a lot of positive feedback about it but it just didn’t look like something I would enjoy.  Boy, was I pleasantly surprised!

The game starts with you, Chell, in a furnished room with a computerized voice instructing you in basic movement.  The voice then instructs you do lie down and go to sleep.   You awaken years later in the same room however Aperture Science has been overrun by nature and has begun to deteriorate.  There is suddenly a banging at your door.  When you answer it, at the door is a personality core named Wheatley who tells you he wants to help you to escape the facility.

After Wheatley moves your room to another area, he drops you off and tells you that he’ll meet you in an area up ahead.  From there you have to go through a few puzzles before you finally get a Portal Gun.  This portal gun however only shoots blue portals.  After a few more puzzles, you meet up with Wheatley again.  As he tries to restart the facility, he makes a mistake that causes you to wake up GLaDOS (a crazy robot you had to defeat in the first game.)

GLaDOS is rather unhappy you “murdered” her in the first game but she knows that testing is more important than revenge so she leads you to the Dual Portal Gun and commences testing.  You’re now forced to go through test chambers with GLaDOS constantly criticizing you.   She constantly makes sarcastic remarks and she’s quite fond of making fun of your weight.  “Most people emerge from suspension terribly undernourished.  I want to congratulate you on beating the odds and somehow managing to pack on a few pounds.”

Along the way there are several crazy plot twists and plenty of witty dialogue.  The graphics, music, and voice acting are absolutely fantastic.  Ellen McLain (GLaDOS) and Stephen Merchant (Wheatley), J.K. Simmons (Cave Johnson), and Nolan North (various personality cores and turrets) are all hysterical and they voice their characters perfectly.  Without their perfect timing I feel like the game would have suffered quite a bit. 

The controls are very simple.  All you need to do is jump, grab, and shoot two different portals.  From there it’s just you and your wits.  You’ll use portals to redirect lasers, light bridges, and gain momentum to fling yourself across rooms.  There are also different kinds of gels that allow you to jump higher, slide, and even place portals on surfaces that wouldn’t normally allow it. The puzzles do get very intricate.   Sometimes you’ll become extremely frustrated but there is always a solution.  Sometimes one that was so obvious that you’ll want to smack yourself. 

The one negative remark I have about this game is the amount of play time.  If you’re fairly savvy in the puzzle department, you can blaze through this game in 4-6 hours.  For many, that makes a game worthless but I say you should still give it a try!  The single player alone may not hold you over forever but if you have a friend who enjoys puzzles, have them grab their portal gun and the two of you can go through a co-op campaign with the two lovable robots, Atlas and P-Body. 

I also feel that I have to mention that the main character is female.   This is fantastic.  She could have just as easily been male.  She doesn’t talk and since it’s in first person, you hardly ever see her.  I wanted to give kudos to Valve for not using the typical cookie-cutter, mid-twenties, white male. Woo hoo! J


Portal 2 TV Spot

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