The sole reason why I bought The Orange Box was Portal. A type of game I like. A game where enemies don’t chase after me trying to eat my brain. A game where I can calmly think over what should I do next. Portal is a game which takes the advantage of your mind. It was a great game; short but still entertaining (especially GLaDOS monologues). And then, around March, 2010 Portal was patched giving to the users hints of the coming sequel which is the subject of my review.
Portal 2 starts couple of years or centuries after the events of the first Portal (I guess there won’t be any cross-overs between Portal and Half-Life). Once again we assume role of the test subject Chell who must pass another set of deadly puzzles only having a portal gun (Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device). Gameplay is similar to the one from the first game. We are able to make two interconnected portals and by passing them finish levels. The main culprit did not change and apparently survived. GLaDOS prepared even more deadly test areas than before.
We meet Chell in a life-support room and already we are thrown into action trying to get out of it. Chell encounters one of the funniest characters of this year – Wheatley, a core with English accent. With his constant complaints and remarks you don’t feel alone compared to the first instalment in which only GLaDOS talked to you. The whole complex of Aperture Science changed past these years. Roots and plants are now the main inhabitants of the underground facility. From time to time you can even hear birds’ chirp. So the place is not the same. Once it was sterile now it is old and defunct. The way GLaDOS prepares test chambers to function normally is also great to watch. Furthermore, we visit the first test areas located in an abandoned mine and learn more about the history of Aperture Science. I won’t spoil how the game ends but I saw opinions that the ending is “disappointing” etc. I don’t think so. I laughed when watching it. What is strong about this game is the plot, or rather the twists of it, the background story and the brilliant dialogues/monologues (e.g. the scene in which Wheatley tries to hack the password using brute-force method).
Developers of course added some features to the sequel and gave up on others. We have bombs instead of rocket launchers. Turrets are still present. They have abandoned energetic balls in favour of high-temperature lasers. But we don’t use normal crates to deflect them. New ones were added which reflect those lasers into designed holes. Another feature added was “astral” footpaths. They act as catwalks or barriers. But I think that they are nothing compared to gels. I had so much fun with them, and they come in three colours! Blue one allows you to bounce of it pinball style! Red/Orange speeds up your movement. These two combined create possibilities for very looooong jumps. The last is white/grey gel, which makes any surface good for putting portals on it. I remember flooding one place in a certain level just for the fun of teleporting myself through great distances.
Even though the game is great and I was overjoyed with any news about it before the premiere, there are few things that weren’t well used. Gels being the most innovative feature of the game were introduced too late and I get the feeling their potential was not used to its fullest. I was hoping for an epic battle using them (yes I know how ridiculous it sounds). I don’t if it is just me but I think some levels are too easy. Maybe it is due to me being accustomed to the use of portals. But what was the biggest and most irritating thing were the loading screens! There are too many of them. Few steps here, few steps there, loading screen – repeat! It is a serious flaw and I hope that valve with deal with it by patching the game.
Overall Portal 2 is a game worth playing, a good exercise for our brains and hands. We can play it once more to pay more attention to the surroundings or dialogues, to see some details overlooked during the first play through. Although the game is linear I don’t think that should be changed. My review is devoid of the multiplayer in which you play one of two robots Atlas or P-body with your friend over the steam and together solve puzzles. I hate co-op games. I really do. Why? (Because I’m hard-boiled guy) In this case they are ripping me off. There was a time, long ago, where you could play using one game on a split screen. Those times are over. The one and only game I enjoyed in co-op was Diablo II because it’s fun to slash your enemies with friends. It’s no fun to see if I or my friend fails in one part of a puzzle. The game’s music is a mix of electronic music just like it was in the first one. Nothing great or worth buying (you can download it legally for free from here: http://www.thinkwithportals.com/music.php) but it goes well in the background. “Still Alive” from the ending of first Portal was a hit; “Want You Gone” from the sequel is good but not so great.Final Score: 8/10