Review by Grenade_KaBoom

Reviewed: 04/27/11

When a potato becomes a vital plot element and a metal talking sphere becomes one of the most loved videogame characters in a very long time...

you know you are dealing with a very interesting game. But how does it compare to the first?


Portal 2 is the very long awaited sequel to the ever critically acclaimed gaming classic, Portal. Portal stunned gamers across the world with the new and innovative gameplay and original way of showing the player the plotline. The dialogue was witty yet dark, and the game accomplished a sense that no game has ever captured before. That game was truly a sight to behold. The main criticism was that the game was only about two hours long, but it was so ridiculously good and had so much replay value, that most gamers forgave that.

So, with how stunningly amazing Portal 1 was, and with the immense amount of hype Portal 2 has gotten, if you do not already own the game, you are probably asking: does the game live up to its expectations? Does it live up to the quality of the first game?

Although there may be no existing solid yes or no answer, this review gives my opinion on the matter. Ultimately, only you can decide if it lived up to the first, but read on to see what this game does offer:

How long is Portal 2 compared to the first one?
Portal 2 is about 8 hours long. If you search for hidden things and admire the game for every pixel of its worth, it may be about 10 to 11. So, it is much longer than the first one. Also, rest assured that the game does not drag on at all, even though it is about 4 to 5 times longer than the original. It stays fresh and original all the way through. Due to its extra length, it doesn’t have as much replay value, but it definitely still has some; still more than most games do.

How good does the game look?
While I will not claim that it is the best looking game ever created, it was a very nicely designed game. For starters, the levels varied much more in setting than the first one, and all the settings were portrayed very well. The lighting was excellent in the game, and there was even a part that relied on only seeing what a flashlight showed over. There were also some very impressive scenes with some of the testchambers moving and trying to repair itself and whatnot. It was a pretty well designed game. I have no complaints.

How hard is the game?
The game starts off easier than Portal 1, but by the end it gets much more complicated. You may have seen videos showing you the gels and other cool technologies in the game. Those tend to be very complicated to use, but not too hard. It will make you rack your mind trying to figure it out, but nothing is so hard that it will make you smash your screen in. I was able to get through the entire game without the help of a guide, even though I did need to sit there and examine and think about things for awhile, and test things out to see if my theories of what to do worked. I’d say they did a good job to make things interesting, complex and still not too hard.

Why is the game E10!? Does this mean the game is softer and has less witty dark humor than the first!?
Not at all. If anything, this game is actually far darker and has far more witty dark humor than the first one had. I personally think this game still should have been rated T. To my understanding, though, this game was only rated E10 since they took out the blood. Treat this game as if it were a T rated game and it should make a bit more sense. This game is basically a T rated game with the blood censored out; it doesn’t make it any more of a kid’s game than the first one was.

Did they update the physics engine a lot?
Now this is actually where I think the game was lacking. Not that it detracts from the quality, because it doesn’t, but it was noticeable that the engine for this game seems outdated. You are basically playing a Portal 1 that has gels, light paths and other various things that can go through portals. Otherwise, the game plays exactly the same as the first. My main complaint with how they set this game up is actually the fact you can’t interact with as much as you could in the first game, though. There were many areas with chairs, desks, computers, mugs, and you could do absolutely nothing with them. They were all cemented to the ground from the feel of it, and it seems that all the mugs were made of plastic and could not shatter. It kind of tore you from the realism of the game a little bit, but overall it was no big deal. So, in short, the engine was NOT updated a ton from the previous game and from Half-Life 2 beyond the fact that more things can go through portals, but they made this game so well and scripted the scenes where glass is destroyed and whatnot so perfectly that you will not notice this very much.

There are more characters in this game… is that a good or bad thing?
I personally think it was good. I found Wheatley to be brilliant, and the Cave Johnson recordings were just incredible. The A.I. in this game for what characters would say when and what they would say according to what you do was also stunning. I personally thought it was a very good thing that they added Wheatley to the cast. Also, the voice acting in this game was some of the best I have ever heard. Granted, everyone that talks is a robot or a machine, but all the dialogue was incredibly well written and really fit the characters, and they were executed so well and with such incredible timing that I was simply stunned. This was actually one of my favorite details of the game. However, some people tend not to like Wheatley’s voice. I guess that’s up to personal opinion there, since I loved his voice. (And if you are a big fan of The Office, you may recognize it...)

Do I need to play the first Portal before this one?
Although you technically don’t, I very highly recommend it for a number of reasons. First, you will be lost, as there is some important plot that takes place in the first game that is highly relevant to what goes on in the sequel. Second, Portal 1 is a much cheaper game than Portal 2 and you can get a taste for if you will like this game without buying it. Third, Portal 1 is a freaking awesome game that everyone on earth should try out. Portal 2 may be better in a lot of ways, though nothing can ever replace the epicness that was Portal 1. I very, very strongly advise playing through Portal 1 before you play this one. It will be worth it.

How is the co-op?
The co-op mode is incredible. It is possibly the best multiplayer feature I have ever seen. There are lots of cool ways that you can interact with your partner, and the puzzles are always intriguing and interesting to figure out. It also adds several hours of gameplay to the game, making it more than just an 8-10 hour long story mode. Shortly said, co-op is the most brilliant thing I have ever seen, and it is my favorite aspect of this game. Even if you don’t have friends that own this game, you need to play it at least with a stranger from online. It is just that good.

Do you have any criticism for this game?
I did have a few things, actually. First, one of the things you may have seen in the previews for this game, a tool called the Pneumatic Diversity Vent, never appeared in the game. Granted, it would have been hard to use it good for a puzzle, but the previews showed it in action, and it was not to be seen anywhere in the game.

Second, as I mentioned a few paragraphs above, you were not able to interact with nearly as much. I would have loved to mess around with chairs and computer monitors to see what could be done with them. It would have added a little extra something to the game, which is rarely bad.

Third, you are not able to launch items with your portal gun like you could in Portal 1. In the first Portal, your portal gun was an enhanced gravity gun. In this game, the only resemblance to the gravity gun at all is the little lasers that hold objects. There is no feature to left-click your mouse to launch objects. I missed that feature.

Fourth, there were no extra challenge levels. Granted, it would have been hard to do that as this game does not have as much of an even-paced structure as the first one did, but it would have been nice if they made something of the likes. But, who knows, maybe DLC will make up for this in the future.

That’s pretty much all the criticism I have for this game. So, there are some things they could have done better, but it doesn’t stop the game from being awesome.

Conclusion: The Big Question.

Of course, all quality and complaints aside, the big question at the end of the day is always: is the game worth the money?

Frankly, this game costs less on the PC than many other PC games (at least it did for me), and it was possibly the most interesting and entertaining games I have ever played. It was an extremely solid and fitting sequel to the first game and I highly recommend it for anyone that liked the first game. So yes, if you are a fan of Portal 1, this game is absolutely worth every penny. If you have not played Portal 1, though, I suggest you do to try it out. That game is dirt cheap, and lots of people over on the Steam community, and heck, even here on GameFAQs, may have a free copy they would be willing to give to you. (If you pre-ordered the game, you got a free copy of Portal 1 along with it. I don’t personally still have mine, though, so don’t go asking me for one!)

Overall, this game gets a 9/10 from me. It is a very solid game, possibly one of the most interesting and fun games I have ever played, but there were flaws that stopped it from being utterly perfect. The game is worth buying, though, and cannot tell you how much I recommend you do that as soon as you possibly can if you are a fan of the first game.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Portal 2 (US, 04/19/11)

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