PORTAL 2 review

August 1, 2012

/ by Tin Salamunic

Developer(s): Valve
Publisher(s): Valve
Platform(s): Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac
Release Date: April 2011

Portal 2 is a first person puzzle game developed by Valve. In the game, the player must guide the protagonist Chell as she attempts to escape the labs and testing rooms of Aperture Science Enrichment Center. Portal 2 is arguably one of the funniest video games ever made. The game’s script is masterfully done, both dark in humor and original. Spot on voice acting enhances the dialogue greatly and gives life to the endearing, sometimes terrifying robots Chell encounters. A major highlight of the game is the twist that occurs about midway through the campaign, that in the space of a few moments changes everything and introduces the player to a new character and a new, yet familiar, location. Portal 2’s finale is quite memorable as well for the barrage of funny quips fired off during the action; so much so that the player will probably choose to die a few times just to catch all the dialogue. 

The Good
- Hilarious
- Fun gameplay mechanics 

The Bad
- Low replayability
- Sometimes confusing  

However funny the game is, it would be hard to arrive at the next bit of dialogue if the gameplay was bad. Luckily, this is not the case with Portal 2. The bulk of the game takes place in a series of test rooms in which Chell must solve puzzles in order to open the exit move on. The player makes use of the portal gun – a gadget that can fire up to two connected portals onto certain surfaces – to move Chell, transport objects, or redirect tractor beams and other devices in order to solve the game’s puzzles. One reason for Portal 2’s success in the gameplay department is that since every test room has an exit door, the player does not wonder where to go, but how to get there - which goes a long way in curbing frustration. The difficulty curve is also perfectly set. Each test room is unique thanks to a large pool of test objects, such as the above mentioned tractor beams, as well as turrets, laser beams, and various gels that when applied to surfaces create jump pads, boost pads, or make previously portal resistant surfaces able to host portals.  

Portal 2 is a phenomenal game, but there are a couple minor problems. While it is clear in the test rooms where the player is to go, the same cannot be said of the several stages that take place in the offices and maintenance areas of Aperture Science Enrichment Center. As a result, these sections outside the testing rooms can be somewhat annoying. Portal 2’s other problem concerns the puzzles themselves. Once the player figures out how to solve a puzzle, the sense of excitement that comes with discovery may not return on subsequent playthrough, thereby making the puzzles a little less enjoyable the next time around. Luckily, the game’s single player is of decent length, and there is a co-operative campaign with its own story and some different characters, so there’s plenty to do. In closing, Portal 2 is a wonderfully funny and original game. Even gamers who don’t like puzzle games need to check out Portal 2 for the story alone. 

Review by Jack Jacobs 

Final Score “Hilarious and Original” 9.0
Adequate but overall unremarkable. Bare environments are nice and sharp but lack visual diversity.
The portal gun is a joy to use. Puzzles are challenging and there's a great sense of satisfaction when you figure out how to get to the next area.
The story is superbly written and entertaining throughout. Absolutely hilarious at times and gives the game extra value.
Excellent voice acting that amplifies the humorous dialogue.

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