Portal 2 Review
- Posted April 19th, 2011 at 16:54 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Creative, funny, and utterly absorbing, Portal 2 is the best puzzle-platformer game on the planet.
- Strong storyline and great characters
- Incredible level design and absorbing puzzles
- Smooth Steam integration and an immersive co-op mode for two players
- Guess work required in some of the more open environments can be frustrating
(continued from previous page) ...had out of experimenting with some great tools. Indeed, Portal 2 is at its best when it challenges you to use a combination of these tools to escape.
Nonetheless, Portal 2 isn't going to appeal to everyone. Though it does well to introduce you to new tools and tries to break you in gently by giving you some fairly simple puzzles to solve, it can get extremely challenging later on, which may lead to frustration for those who don't have the patience. The game also loses a little bit of momentum about halfway through, when you enter the depths of the Aperture Science Facility; though it soon picks back up. During this section, escaping becomes more about guessing how on earth you can make your way through this large environment, rather than logically having to puzzle your way out. We were trapped for over 45 minutes in one section, before realising all we had to do was find a tiny gap in a metal fence that allowed to us to shoot a portal into a wall far away in the distance. The new environments look great, but it can be a little frustrating trying to escape, and it’s fairly unclear about what you need to do to progress.
Portal 2 isn’t just about puzzle solving of course. One of the highlights of the original game was the storyline and this second instalment continues the good work. We’re very wary about spoiling the story and even referring to the ending of Portal just in case anyone hasn’t played it, so we’re not going to go into specifics in this review. However, fans of the original aren’t going to be disappointed. Once again, you play as Chell, the Aperture Science Test Subject; and there’s far more character interaction than the first game and lots of dry humor and sarcasm to enjoy. The brilliant Stephen Merchant plays a blinder as Wheatley, the personality core, and his quick-witted humor complements the monotone voice and put-downs of GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System.) Even taking a leisurely ride in an elevator, or walking down a barren corridor, can be something to look forward to as the storyline amuses and teases in equal measure before unfolding into a satisfying conclusion.
When you've finally managed to complete the test chambers in the single player campaign, there's also a fantastic co-op mode to look forward to which introduces two droids, P-body and Atlas, who were constructed by GLaDOS as test subjects. The co-op mode can be played in split-screen or online and the beauty of the PlayStation 3 version is full STEAM integration, which allows you to jump online with PC players too. With the wrong team-mate, co-op can be utterly frustrating, but with communication and teamwork, it's one of the most satisfying multiplayer modes we've ever played. The fact that the test chambers are even more intricately designed and you now have four portals instead of two that you can punch into the environment makes progress incredibly tricky, but just as absorbing and satisfying as the single player. And, once again, Valve puts together some stunning and creative level design to ensure you're kept entertained throughout.
Portal 2 has been a hot topic of discussion over the last couple of months. Most gamers we know are talking about it, and even those who have never played the first game are intrigued as to what all the fuss is about. Indeed, if this next iteration of the portal-popping puzzler doesn’t top the charts on hype and positive word-of-mouth alone — even before anyone has taken it out of the shrink-wrapping — then we’d be totally amazed. Hype, of course, can be a very bad thing and can destroy games totally if they fail to live up to their billing. Yet, from the moment Portal 2 was announced, we haven’t once been worried that Valve would let us down.
The first game introduced such great technology with the portal gun and laid down a solid framework from which to gain further inspiration; the sequel simply had to be even better. The good news is that Portal 2 doesn’t disappoint; in fact it's exceeded our expectations. From the captivating storyline and the casting of the brilliant Stephen Merchant as Wheatley, ... (continued on next page)