Still Thinking With Portals (Portal 2: Single Player)

Once upon a time there was an Orange Box

Inside that Orange Box was a Portal

That Portal grew and grew until one day it spawned another Portal

That Portal was named Portal 2

Portal 2, sequel to the award-winning Portal (2007) by Valve, was released on the 19th of April 2011 ahead of schedule thanks to the online gaming community taking part in what will probably become known as the most elaborate and distinctive video game ARG (Alternate Reality Game). I myself gained a whole potatoe for the community *bows*, possibly allowing you to play your game a whole nanosecond earlier (donations of cake welcome). ARG and promotion aside, as I’m sure I can structure a blog post about that another time, the game returns players to the testing chambers of Aperture Science for a whole bunch of new tests.

It’s taken me 10 hours worth of portals but I’ve finally emerged from the other side of the single player component of the game in order to write a little something about what you can expect. So what’s new? Well aside from the number 2 at the end of the title the game’s offering players a multitude of upgrades on the original game’s concepts. These include gels that can repel or bounce players along surfaces, laser bridges, tractor beams, faith plates (everybody makes the first jump!), a companion cube named Wheatley (voiced by comedian Stephen Merchant) who keeps you company and the return of GLaDOS: Psychopathic killing machine sent back through time to kill you before you were born! No wait that’s Skynet…Well she’d probably do that if she had the ability to.

The original Portal was famed for its comedic content, GLaDOS’s banter, turrets asking you if you’re still there and the infamous companion cube. Players are probably wondering if Valve were able to top this with Portal 2. In my opinion they haven’t tried, they’ve done one better and made their own game whilst retaining the core elements of the first. Of course you’re still shooting a portal at A and coming out of B but the structure of the game has been stretched out somewhat, mainly through the new puzzle mechanics. Instead of being thrown into the test chamber immediately you’re dropped into a storyline which is complimented by a top-notch comedy script that’s then spliced with test chambers for you to solve. The story not only continues the Portal storyline but delves into its past too. I like that Valve have taken this approach to the game as it expands on elements most players adored the previous game for without straight out copying them.

I’ve really enjoyed playing the game and have no regrets pre-ordering to play this as soon as. I admit there seems to be less re-playability than the original and I’m wondering if they’ll add time trials as DLC down the line but you’ve a good 10 hours of gameplay and a separate co-op mode to accompany it. The graphics are shiny, the script is exceptionally well written and the puzzles range from ‘speedy thing goes in’ to ‘portal A makes Gel B reach point E so I can bounce up to Level 3 in order to bring a cube back to…oh god where was I…’

I’ll be trying out the co-op element of the game just as soon as my brother’s net connection decides it wants to play nice but until then let me know what you think of the game, the hype surrounding it and obviously if you have any cake.

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