Portal has been around since 2007. If you’ve ever been on the internet, you’ve no doubt come across certain memes from the game. “The cake is a lie” immediately comes to mind. It’s one of those games that every single gamer I’ve come across has played, and enjoyed. Funnily enough, I always heard more about its 2011 sequel, Portal 2. I always understood the basic premise of the game – you have a portal gun, and you use this to solve puzzles, getting you from A to Z. Puzzles games have never really been my thing so I steered clear for a while. Having said that, the idea of it (as well as the hype surrounding it) always peeked my interested. Which makes sense. After all, it has been listed as one of the best games of all times in several articles, critic and review sites.
With this in mind, in a recent Steam sale, I finally hunkered down and bought Portal 2 (because why not jump right into the sequel of anything?), only because I heard more about this than the original. I dove right in and played the game, ready to see what all the excitement was about. At the very least, I’d understand the jokes circulating the internet. But, I admit – I found myself pleasantly surprised!
Going In Blind
While I still have no idea about the plot or the first one, or how it ties in to the sequel, it didn’t make much of a difference. Entry into Portal 2 was clean and easy for a newcomer like me. The first thing to surprise me in the game was the story. In a puzzle game, I expected a simple mechanic of completing puzzles and climbing levels.
So to find myself immediately launched into a story already sold the game to me. Seemed like I was going to be getting a little bit more for my buck, so to speak. The game begins with the main character, Chell, in the crumbling Aperture Science and the player must find a way out of the facility. In the process, she comes across a nervous, eccentric robot names Wheatley and the two accidentally wake GLaDOS. She sets up several obstacles to make escape near-impossible for Chell.
A simple enough plot that gives some purpose and motivation for spending so long on solving these puzzles. This already had me engaged and ready to play this game from start to finish. (I really am a sucker for narrative-driven games, even if that narrative is only a minor feature). But I always worried that the simple point and click feature of the portals would get boring and repetitive. After all, how many times can one person walk through a portal and come out the other side, only to repeat the same path? The game is kept interesting by adding in extra, more complicated obstacles like different kinds of slime that make you bounce or run faster. Laser beams that tamper with your progress. Moving platforms, and stages with no physical exit in site. The game is challenging and continues to reinvent itself as you go on.
Potatoes And Sarcasm
Then, there are the characters themselves. Wheatley and GLaDOS being the two characters I adore the most. I wasn’t expecting such incredible sarcasm from a game about portals, and this game really set the bar. As I progressed through the game, I found myself feeling a fondness towards Wheatley – if only to listen to Stephen Merchant‘s sarcastic tones granting me advice and encouraging hilarious scenarios. Not to mention the sass from GLaDOS, and the hilarious way in which she attempts to trick and belittle the player. It really gives the game an edge that other puzzle games haven’t even thought of. But that’s not even the best part.
The plot is interesting. There’s some hidden meaning set behind the dialogue. The narrative cues given by the disembodied voice of Cave Johnson, the owner of Aperture, feed back story. It gives insight into the experiments that took place. It even contributes to some shocking character development for our good friend GLaDOS, that adds real sympathy to her. And then it hits back at you with some of that ridiculous comedy I’ve come to expect from the game. Does uploading oneself into a potato clock ring any bells?
Having now played the game after missing out for so long, I regret not coming to it sooner. I’ll probably dip into Portal itself at some stage too. I’m also aware of Portal 2‘s cooperative function and, while I haven’t had the chance to play it yet, I’ve heard great things about it. (I also watched the Game Grumps play it several times on their channel). It adds plenty of content to an already impeccable game!
The Hype Train
Portal 2 is a first-person puzzle-platformer created by the Valve Corporation. It released in 2011 and was made available on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. It was also later released on Steam.
Portal 2 obviously lives up to the hype. Upon finishing the game, I completely understand why the game has been listed on so many critic reviews as one of the best games of all time. I never should have doubted the hype, really. But better late than never, right?
What do you think of Portal 2? Do you think it was silly of me to wait so long to play the game? Let me know in the comments below!
Doing a little of this, a little of that. If you see me holding a camera, run!