PORTAL 2 – ONE SMALL STEP FOR GLAD0S, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR GAME WRITERS

*NEEDS IMAGE BUT WAITING FOR FINISHED FRONT PAGE

This is a review of the Single Player campaign in Portal 2. I haven’t had the time or a buddy with time to play through the Co-Op campaign (a future review possibly). I bought the game at full price for the PS3 at a midnight launch. Played through the game as fast as I could because of a deadline, which included skipping a day of work. I am a big fan of Portal, I actually bought the Orange Box mainly for the original and since I’m not a big fan of Half Life, I know don’t put me on the crucifix yet, or Team Fortress. I feel I still got a great deal with just Portal at $60, buying it again as a XBLA title at $10 too. As you might can tell by my last entry, I have been really looking forward to this title. It didn’t disappoint.

Things I liked:

FANTASTIC writing! Erik Wolpaw and Jay Pinkerton should get a raise if they are not getting a huge chunk of the cash it took to make this game. I could lace this entire paragraph with quotes that would ruin the game or be out of context but I’ll say this, my girlfriend was watching me play the game for almost the first half of the game. We had to pause it several times because we would start laughing so hard. Not only glad0s but the other new characters hit every mark when it comes to the funny. But once you delve deeper into the game the story that has been composed it really grabs you and your established relationship with glad0s and makes it even strong and continually builds with each new character that is introduced. By the end of the story you really have a strange collection of emotions for these A.I characters. Best ending in a video game.

New Toys! When I bought the original Portal my main attraction was the gameplay, seeing how no one really had an idea about the story would be so strong. But I came into Portal 2 not exactly caring about how the game would play, I just wanted to know what happened next. What a great surprise it was to find that the gameplay has been expanded and made even more fun and complex. The different kinds of goo, the hard light bridge or the fancy laser distributor all have a little place in my heart. The only problem I had with these is I felt like I was just playing a tutorial for each of them before I was introduced to another new toy, hopefully something that will be dealt with in the Co-Op campaign. I did like how the introduction to each was explained why they were absent from the first one and it worked really well with the story.

Graphical Showcase for Steam! Steam is old tech now and I was worried that the game would look kind of drab, as soon as I loaded the disc that fear was squashed. It probably helps that this is the first full title I’ve played on my new 55″ 3D HDTV but I was really surprised by how dirty and detailed everything happens to be. The artist did a great job on everything from display videos, character animations to even the menus. I never experienced slow down, it was just smooth and made the world seem real. The combination of this, the excellent writing  and pitch perfect voice acting really brought me into the game. I had trouble leaving it.

(Special 4th like) SURPRISES! I was expecting surprises going into this game. You should as well if you played the first one. None of them disappoint.

Things I disliked:

The pace takes a hit. The game has a great pace but a little after the middle of the game it hits a brick wall. It’s not long and as for lulls it’s not really a bad part of the game. It’s just a lot slower than the rest of the it. Actually compared to the lull of most other games it’s really fun! Its just surrounded by these comparatively better parts of the game.

Still Alive? Everyone knew that the credits would be a song by Jonathan Coulton. It’s a good song but it’s not “Still Alive”. I knew it would be hard for him to really knock this out of the park and it does match the new game really well. I’ll probably like it more and more as I listen to it more. But it just doesn’t have that instant appeal that the first song had.

It’s over! I beat the game and now it’s all over. 🙁

Final Thoughts:

Maybe it’s just because I beat the game a few hours ago. Maybe it’s because the hype leading up to the game made me want it to be good, so it didn’t matter how it turned out. But after the credits rolled and I had taken it all in, I had the biggest smile on my face and I felt great. The end was so perfect. This is my GOTY so far and I have a suspicion that it’ll be the best game I play for 2011, period.

Bryan Belcher

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