Do you like puzzle games? Yes? Then you owe it to yourself to play Portal 2, full stop.
However, if you're like me and you're not really into puzzle games so to speak then, well, you STILL owe it to yourself to play Portal 2. It's not often that it can be said a game has everything, but Valve have created a masterpiece here for puzzle and non-puzzle fans alike. The visuals are top notch, the storyline engaging, the script is well written and at times laugh-out-loud funny and, most importantly, the game play is spot on. This is a puzzle game so you'll need to get your logic hat on, but don't let that put you off if you're not a puzzle gamer. For while the challenges in Portal 2 can be clever, intricate and mind-blowing at times, what the game has nailed 100% is the fact every problem you encounter makes sense and all puzzles are solvable through logic. Sounds silly I know, but if you're a gamer then you'll know those moments in some games where everything you try doesn't work and when you do find out the solution, it seems so implausible that it can frustrate you even more - 'oh, of course, I needed the lightbulb from the lamp-post to give to the random man so he'd give me a dog to chase away the cat who was holding a golden ball of yarn that I need to gift to the other man so he'd give me his step ladder so I can get to the roof of the building where the matchstick is which I need to burn the candle to wake up the dinosaur who's asleep in front of the washing line I need to get to!' Or something. Portal 2 however, as I said, makes sense, mainly because of the physics of the game. Puzzles are believable and as you get used to the portal gun, you'll start to see all sorts of possibilities. Even the later levels, where the puzzles become quite difficult, you'll be happy to keep trying things out as you know the puzzles will be logical and solvable with a bit of forward thinking. As you go on there is a genuine sense of reward when you finally unlock the secret behind one of the puzzles (I don't think I've yelled 'YES!" as much playing a game since my uni days spent playing Pro Evo 4 hours on end).
The storyline continues a while after the end of the original Portal, once again you play as Chell. For those new to Portal, the game generally takes place in 'test chambers' in the Aperture Laboratory. It's presented in the first person, so if you like COD you'll be fine! You get a Portal gun that enables you to create pathways to different areas of a room - this is done by shooting a blue portal and an orange portal onto walls/floors. Think of them as holes, except when you create two holes they join up and become a pathway. A bit like a portal, really. Anyway, as you progress you gain access to other interesting elements that help you go faster, bounce higher, or even place a Portal onto any surface. The interesting thing about portals is just how they can be used to manipulate a room, it's not just a case of getting from point A to point B as hopefully you'll see if you play the game (or you'll know if you've played the 1st game). As you progress through these test chambers, the story unfolds and you then move onto other areas. I'll draw a line here though, as you don't want any spoilers now do you?! All I will say is that you start off with a friend called Wheatley (voiced brilliantly by Stephen Merchant) and you may or may not run into a certain foe called GLaDOS...other than that there's not much else to say that won't give out plot details (which is just as interesting as the puzzles!)
As I said at the start of this review, I'm not a puzzle gamer per-say. Portal 2 is so much more than a puzzle game though. It's emotive yet funny, clever yet simple, a puzzler-meets-adventure-meets-FPS game. You'll laugh, you'll have your heart strings tugged, you might get a bit stuck, but mostly you'll do as I did and spend a whole day playing it from start to finish because it's just THAT good. Then, when you've finished, you get the excellent co-op mode (and I do recommend playing single player first) which can be played locally via split screen or, online via PSN or even with someone on PC via the Steam Code included in the PS3 version of the game. I was going to review how well this part worked but at the time of writing PSN has been down for around a week now for reasons I'm sure you're all aware of. Local co op is great though (the puzzles are even more intricate when there's two of you!) and a fine extension to the main game.
It's hard to put into words how much I recommend trying this game. Even if you're apprehensive that it might not be your 'thing', similarly to Heavy Rain, it's the kind of game that may divide opinion but can genuinely be called an experience that I feel all gamers should try. I honestly don't have a negative to point out about this game, if we're being picky there's no advanced maps (like in the original), but that's a tiny criticism! Some have mentioned the longevity (I'd say a solid 8-10 hours for single player) but add in the co op and it's certainly longer. Also, as with the aforementioned Heavy Rain which clocked in around 9 hours, there's a definite case for quality over quantity and for me Portal 2 is as quality a game you will play this console generation (plus if there's a better ending to a game, well...you'll just have to play it and see!)