Review by Mageknight

Reviewed: 06/27/11

Comes quite close to the expectations

Portal was a quiet game that exploded onto the gaming scene once everyone saw just how good it was. From the brain teasing puzzles to the subtle humor slung at you by a sentiment and mad AI, Portal was a game that, even if you never played it, you just could not get away from due to everyone giving it so much praise and repeating its memes over and over again. Portal 2 tries to live up to Portal’s success while adding new elements to keep everything fresh. For the most part, it succeeds.

Naturally, the main meat of Portal 2 is its puzzles. Portal 2 has puzzle elements from the previous game that fans of the first fondly remember, such as the turrets and using portals to build momentum so you can fling yourself across the room. The game also adds new toys to play with, such as repulsion gels that make you bounce and speed gels that make you start running like Sonic. None of the puzzles are terribly difficult and that makes the game more fun to play through, but there will be a few puzzles that you will get stuck on and have no idea what you need to do to progress. Unfortunately, if you are stuck, the only way you can get help is to look online for a solution and there’s actually a reason in the storyline on why you can’t get help for puzzles (and it’s funny). If you played Portal before, the most of the puzzles in Portal 2 will be second nature and you will blaze through them easily.

The new puzzle features that were shown in trailers before don’t show up until at least halfway through the game and by the time you get to them, they are not used that often, leaving many people wanting more. If the new puzzle elements were introduced around the first quarter part of the game, it would hold peoples’ interest longer. Another problem with the game flow is sometimes you get stuck not because the puzzle is difficult to figure out, but that you are trying to find what part of walls you can use your portal gun on in order to proceed, making the game boil down to a pixel hunt, something that Portal did not use before. Players should never be forced to search.

Portal 2 places more emphasis on the story while at the same time, only introduces two new characters and it works well. GLaDOS and Wheately go through quite a bit of character development and you will see a side to them that you never would have expected. The humor is still spot on and is executed very well and you will be laughing at it long after the game is finished. While there’s nothing memorable that will match Portal’s “The cake is a lie” meme, Portal 2 has its own share of wit that everyone will love. While the storyline has details without just telling you outright what had happened, the story butts in a bit too much and feels like you are being strung along for the ride when you are not doing puzzles. It can get rather jarring when you have two characters having a conflict with each other while you can’t do anything about it until the game prompts you to. What made Portal good was its minimalistic storytelling. Portal 2 has more storytelling at all the wrong times and would have been better if it was just a step above Portal’s storytelling instead of being all in your face about it.

Portal 2 also has a co-op mode, which is surprisingly very engaging and is quite challenging. It’s basically single player puzzles made for two people and both players have their own set of portals to use, which ramps up the creativity needed to solve the puzzles. Valve made sure that co-op would be painless as possibly by adding vocal commands to help players tell each other where to go or what to look at and having the ability to see what the other player sees so they can be guided well. While co-op is almost as long as single player, once it’s over, that’s it. There’s nothing else to do until future DLC is made. Playing it again with another player may create a situation where either you are tugging the other player along because you know the solutions to the puzzles, or the other player is barking at you to hurry up because they know already on how to get through everything. There are also hats and skins being sold to dress up your robot characters for co-op but it’s a huge waste of money. Co-op is a one time experience that should have had more to do.

Portal 2 is a game you should definitely play or at least try out. Despite the minor flaws it has, the game is worth checking out and the co-op is not to be missed. Portal 2 doesn’t quite live up to the expectations Portal has set, but it comes very damn close.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Portal 2 (US, 04/18/11)

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