The first Portal game seemed to come out of nowhere. The concept was based around a single weapon, the Portal gun. Fire a portal for an entrance, fire a second shot for an exit. The physics were impossible and bending your mind to accommodate the physics of portals addictive. if everyone else is like me, many hours were spent messing about with the portal gun in fits of giggles, popping in and out of impossible angled portals at insane speeds.
Obviously from the title, the Portal gun is back. But haven’t we already applied portals to every possible situation? Valve have been very clever delivering the Portal experience to us a second time around by turning the concept inside out and introducing a good many new elements to the game.
Sure I didn’t waste hours messing with Portals when I first acquired the the portal gun, but I was being pushed along by the narrative. Always eager to see what was around the next corner. This is where the designers have been deviously clever. The narrative really is key to the story, while there are only a few characters, their interaction is fantastic. As well as standard test chambers, you will also see many new corners of aperture science. Level design and story telling combine seamlessly with the games puzzles, encouraging you through the game. Portal 2 has enough narrative twists and changes of scenery to glue you to your controller.
I won’t go into some of the new elements in game design as it is more fun being introduced to them throughout the game. But some of the new features in and outside of the test chambers combine with your existing portal gun in dynamic ways that are nicely utilised with clever level design.
Presentation is also a level above the original. As well as the clean, sterile test chambers you will see broken and abandoned parts of the aperture science facility with many interesting set pieces and stunning backdrops that give the game an amazing sense of depth. The sound is sublime too, make sure you have some decent headphones or speakers to fully appreciate the effort the sound engineers put in. As well as award winning voice acting, there are fantastic sound effects and environmental ambience. The humour is the icing on an already decadent cake.
Like most puzzlers, Portal 2 does have limited replayability. Once you have solved all the puzzles, there is no real reason to venture through the game a second time. The co-op mode effectively acts as a second campaign, but I haven’t had more than a glimpse at this mode so I’m writing this review based on the single player experience. To be fair the length of the game is probably perfect, any longer and I don't think I would be left wanting more.
Portal 2 can now be picked up at a budget price, or rented for a week, so there really is no excuse to not play through this title. Valve have managed to make one of the most characteristic, genuinely funny and involving single player experiences of this generation.