Saturday, August 6

Portal 2 Review (PS3) – Bouncing off the walls…again.

This week’s review comes from long time friend, first time contributor Petey. I got a call early one morning about Portal 2 this and Portal 2 that. With so much enthusiasm, I had to capitalize on an opportunity to discuss what is essentially a great game and the follow up to Valve Corporation’s critically acclaimed 2007 release. So, without further ado, here are the words of Petey on Portal 2.

Taking place directly after the conclusion of the original, protagonist Chell wakes many years in the future since destroying the rogue AI unit GLaDOS who took over the portal testing facility. When she wakes, the facility’s once pristine appearance is now decrepit and overgrown.

As Chell and another character, Wheatley, move through the test chambers, GLaDOS is inadvertedly reactivated and puts the two through the paces as she rebuilds the facility. Wheatley tricks GLaDOS, trapping her core in another body, then becomes drunk with power and banishes both Chell and GLaDOS to an abandoned area of the facility deep underground. From here, the two characters must work their way back to the main chamber and take control from Wheatley.

The good
Having not played the first game, the concept really intrigued me. I love the idea of being able to access another room just by being able to point my Portal Gun (which by the way is the only thing you can see of yourself in your view) through a hole in the glass and opening a portal on a ‘white’ surface. You start off nice and easy just getting from one room to another, from down here to up or over there which can be as far as you can see.
The concept of using the portal to get to higher ground (source: Wikipedia. Yes I went to Wikipedia)

Some of the puzzles you need to solve are pretty easy, some are really hard and some are a little stupid; for the most part it's great. Challenges lay not only in picking the correct path, but firing out one portal, then another in mid air (on an angle no less) in order to build momentum and get you to distant, and otherwise inaccessible, areas of the testing grounds.

With a number of challenges presenting themselves, the game introduces gels with different properties to assist Chell with her journey. For example, the blue repulsion gel allows you jump further while the orange propulsion gel makes you run faster. A mixture of the gels and correctly placed portals will get you where you need to go.

The introduction of wormholes that are used to slowly get you from one side of the room to another puts an interesting spin on things and makes up for the very annoying gun turrets. Despite their frustrations, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game is the challenge of getting around them, specifically, making them fall through the floor then the roof to the floor or on top of one of their own, ultimately leading to their destruction. :)

In addition, the voice acting of each character was also well done with the music providing great ambience for the game.

The bad
At times the game’s layout and design can be a little annoying as you only follow the one path laid out for you even though the game’s challenges are meant to occur by chance sometimes. You never get the opportunity to stumble upon something new and there is only one way to do each level. A little variety in design could’ve made this game much better.

Some of the challenges aren’t well weighted, with many challenges either much too easy or ridiculously hard. Albeit puzzle games are designed to stimulate the mind, working out what you need to do to move through the last door and finish each level can be a killer on the brain.

The ugly
The only truly ugly aspect of this game is one particular level that had me stumped. It’s near impossible requirement of having to destroy three turrets behind a glass wall kept me up at night. Once I worked out the resolution to the puzzle, I was far from impressed.

The verdict
8.0 All in all Portal 2 is a really good game. Simple in design yet very challenging, the mind bending concept and application is a brilliant way to capture the attention of gamers everywhere. Unlike a FPS or common puzzle base game, it truly pushes the boundaries and makes you think well outside the box to resolve the challenge.

1 comment:

  1. Good work, Petey. I've got to actually sit down and finish this game one day.