A few years ago I stumbled across the original Portal when I bought "The orange box" in order to play Halflife 2 on Xbox. I was intrigued, amazed and finally delighted at what I found, Portal was fresh, clever and incredibly funny. It was a hidden gem in what I still believe to be the best value release on any console ever.
Portal 2 took me by surprise, Valve hadn't exactly hammered down the doors to push the game and it suddenly appeared amongst a fairly bland line up of recent games, but what an antidote to the poor deluge of games we've had recently. After the huge dissapointment of Dragon age 2, Black Ops, Bulletstorm, Fallout New Vegas and Crysis 2 I was beginning to wonder if Dead Space 2 was the only game to be released this year to really have me thinking "wow".
I found Portal 2 a joy from start to finish, the puzzles are satisfying, the voice acting is exemplary and the script and pacing are perfect. It is understandable how some people may not like the game, as there is simply nothing around of it's kind and it may seem somewhat alien, but I implore you to give this game a chance and put the shooters down for a while and enjoy what Valve has come up with here. It's hard to explain what the game entails until you've tried it, so I won't try other than to say it's a puzzle solver.
As Chell you will find yourself revisiting Aperture whilst discovering much about it's past, no narrative is required here, through brilliant scripting you will find out the answer to most questions you asked yourself in Portal as you go. Glados is back, as acerbic as ever and she is joined by Steven Marchant's excellent Wheatley, Cave Johnson rounds up a superb trio of main characters who will have you laughing like you never have before at a game whilst wondering how you can fall in love with faceless characters in a videogame.
Some people have remarked that Portal 2 is somewhat short. But, if you combine the solo and co-op campaigns then you have more than your moneys worth here, especially when you consider the length of many recent supposed triple A releases.
My only gripe is that I feel the puzzles could ave been harder. At times I was pulling my hair out in the original Portal, but here I found only one chamber had me truly scratching my head (chapter 8 chamber 16). But that is the only negative I can honestly muster.
Portal 2 is a work of art and game of the year already for me. It absolutely deserves to be tried by every 360 owner out there, there is simply no game that has ever matched the intelligence and ingenuity you'll find here. The cake may be a lie, but Portal 2 deserving a 5 star rating certainly isn't.
Buy the orange box and then buy Portal 2, you may well be at the least pleasantly surprised. At the most, blown away.
(This review presumes a knowledge of the original Portal. Whilst it is not essential for the enjoyment of the sequel, there are a few in-jokes and references within the new game that will only make sense after a full playthrough of the original, and ideally an understanding of the wider Half Life universe. The reviewer suggests that you stop off at Half-Life 2: The Orange Box (Xbox 360) before making a purchase on this page)
I will admit to a certain feeling of trepidation after the announcement of a sequel to Portal, which grew with the appearance of each new teaser and tech demo. Were they overcomplicating its simple beauty? Were they taking it too far down a comedy route, as the arrival of Stephen Merchant suggested? Would it all crumble under the weight of cake-related fan service?
Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. Portal 2 is every inch the sequel Portal deserved: full, fleshed out and still damn funny.
The new puzzle elements - such as the various attribute-enhancing gels, hard light bridges and whatnot - add new levels to the gameplay without detracting from the elegance of the central conceit. The difficulty curve is spot on, allowing the player enough time to get to grips with a new idea before bringing up a real head-scratcher. Thus, solving the cunning physics puzzles remains a feat of logic, lateral thinking and understanding of 3D space, with the satisfaction of finding the solution utterly gratifying.
Likewise, the comedy element has been successfully beefed up. Where the humour in the original built up slowly, Portal 2 wears its mirth on its sleeve from the get-go. Merchant's performance as the incompetent Wheatley is particularly enjoyable - just annoying enough to be amusing and at times pathetically sweet - whilst GlaDOS returns with all her acid wit intact.
The single player campaign is packed with twists and turns, tracking through the crumbling remains of Aperture before culminating in one of the most eye-popping and unexpected finales ever seen in this or any other console generation. Don't give in to the temptation to look at spoilers - you'll want to go into this one fresh.
Single player is only half the story, though, as Valve have provided a full, entirely separate two player co-op experience, playable online or split screen. After a bit of cajoling, I managed to persuade my wife to join in for a bit of the latter, and can gleefully report that this side of the game is every bit the equal of the single player event.
By necessity, the setup for co-op is simplified, with progress made by completing a series of isolated tests accessed from a central hub, rather than working along a story-led path. Each player takes command of an endearing test droid, equipped with a portal gun apiece, and forced to work closely to complete puzzles that are rather more complex than those found in the solo game.
Practically every move you make in co-op demands the work of both players, so neither feels like a spare part. That said, the difficulty has been weighted so that one player can, if need be, take on the trickier aspects of portal wrangling, meaning that adept portaleers can work alongside the less experienced players, both working toward the same goal and neither feeling bored or out of their depth.
In terms of criticism, one could argue that the game is a little short. It can be completed - both solo and co-op - within about twenty or thirty hours, with nothing (aside from some actually quite interesting developers' commentary) to lure you back for a replay.
Nothing, that is, except for the sheer joy of it. As someone who has played through the original Portal more times than I can reliably count, I am certain that the sequel is a title that will never be far from my Xbox. There is nothing else quite like it, from the humour to the excitement to the simple root concept. Unique experiences such as this deserve to be treasured.
Why are you still reading when there's science to do?
Portal 2 is truly one of the best games I've played on Xbox 360. It is fun, challenging, and clever. Not only does it have a gripping storyline, it also has a great Co-op campaign, which is sometimes rare in popular Xbox 360 titles as alot of popular games are 1 player or online. So it was really nice to play this game with my brother and it develops good teamwork (or frustration at times!). Protal 2 will definatly challenge even the most hardcore gamers with it's clever challenges which sometimes takes logic to figure out. Some tests will be simpler than others, but there were a few tests in which I had to ask my younger brother to come and help me with (embarassing, I know). The physics in the game are really mindblowing and you can see the attention to detail and the lengths that the makers have gone to, to achieve the final outcome. The graphics are also very nice.
I won't go into too much detail about the storyline so I don't give it away, because there are a few big twists and turns which really change the storyline. Unfortunatly I didn't play Portal 1 (which I'm considering buying on the xbox marketplace), so I didn't know the real beginings of Protal. But I do know that you play as a women who was abandoned at birth and a large science industry, run by GlaDOS, a somewhat evil robot, has taken you in and made you perform these tests with a protal gun, as well as special gels and hardlight bridges. The game also has a really great voice over by Steven Merchant, who plays the incompetant Wheatly, and really adds some comedy to the game.
I really think this game is definatly worth buying and without doubt gets a 5* from me. Perhaps It seems a little bit short, but with the co-op campaign in there and DLC apparently arriving soon, I think it is a game that can deliver many many hours of fun. Portal 2 is a very original game and is different from the normal FPS's that are the most popular with 360 players. I would strongly recommend Portal 2 to all players who are looking for some challenging fun, even if they don't like puzzle games.
I simply adore this game. There is nothing else on the market like it and should be present in every gamers collection. It had me scratching my head for hour after hour as I fought to stop my brain going into meltdown. The satisfaction when you solve a room that you thought had you beat is truly immense. Don't, whatever you do be tempted to read a walk through if you get stuck. Give it the respect it deserves, put it down and come back to it again. I have not yet been into the online game, but I am really looking forward to it. I thoroughly recommend this game to anyone.
Though I was a great fan of the first game I was a bit worried that, though all the new mechanics of game play would be interesting, the story would have been a bit off key with the first. it turned out I was very impressed, though the first half of the game is getting used to portaling and the characters. Then just when I thought the game was about to end an amazing twist (that I won't disclose) from then on I was sitting on the edge of my seat until I had finished the game.
The co-op mode I found to be great fun, my friend and I spent hours working together, hugging and high fiving.
Overall I loved it, and I plan on playing it until I can see it in my sleep.
The original Portal was one of the best things I've ever played, EVER, so I was counting down the days to this coming out - and Valve have not disappointed (do they ever?). The word 'genius' is oft bandied about but never has it been more applicable in videogame terms than here. It's the only word that can adequately sum up the dizzying brilliance of the central concept. That is (for the uninitiated) shoot portal onto surface A, shoot portal onto surface B, step through A and emerge at point B. Simple! But, much like Portal 1, the amount of variation that's gradually introduced throughout the game - as laser beams, killer turrets, springy gels, elevators etc. all come into play - will make your head spin. And that's before you even get into the side-splitting (yes, really!) script and fantastic voice acting (Stephen Merchant, take a bow). What more can I say, except that I'm sorry it had to end? I could happily play this for the rest of time if the developers could keep coming up with new levels. A truly sublime experience and Game of the Year 2011, no question.
Portal 2 is a puzzle-based game that will twist your brain - just as you have to twist the laws of physics in the game play.
The idea is simple... actually, er, no it's not. Well it kind of is; you have a gun that can create opening's in space - or rather walls. It creates portals through which you can travel. There are two types of portal - blue and orange - and you can fire a blue portal at a wall, pass through it to pop out of wherever it was you fired the orange portal too.
Using these tears in space you have to solve a series of puzzled-based rooms, using blocks, lifts, elevators, lasers and the laws of physics to navigate yourself and objects around to open the exit to the next chamber.
Set in the future, the game is housed in a crumbling test facility, where you're being held captive by a demented robot with an obsession for testing. Each room is a trial of your brain's abilities, and your host - the robot gone insane - exists only to see you suffer as you struggle to solve each of her conundrums.
The graphics, to be honest, aren't very impressive on the XBox version. At first glance, they do look great and your futuristic surrounding look suitably clean and modern. But on closer inspection I feel they lack detail and the textures are blocky and pixelated. On the whole though, this doesn't distract from the enjoyment of the game as you don't really notice it until, as I say, closer inspection.
Overall - Portal is a refreshingly different puzzle based game. In some ways it reminds me a bit of Ico (although in most ways it's worlds apart), but if you've played and enjoyed Ico (or indeed, sadly, even ever heard of it!) you should enjoy Portal 2.
Perhaps best of all though - or at least just as good as the game itself - is the voice acting within it. Most notably, the voice talents of one Steven Merchant, who makes an appearance throughout as a robot guide of sorts. His role is handle with great skill and comic timing and really adds to the fun of the game.
I found portal 2 to be a nice mix of styles and a good example of thinking outside the box - rather apt, given the game itself - and now at least, even if you're sat indoors playing video games all day long, your brain can get a bit of a workout!
What a refreshing change this game is. For those who've never played portal, it's basically a puzzle game. You have a gun that shoots portals onto surfaces that accept them, one blue and one orange. So say you have to reach a higher level, you shoot a blue portal at the higher level, and shoot an orange portal at the level you're on allowing you to travel to the higher level. You have to solve puzzle rooms like this, getting cubes onto buttons that raises platforms or open the exit, using bridges of light etc. It's a simple premise, but extremely enjoyable.
Anyway, having played Portal on the Orange Box, I decided to give this a go as I quite enjoyed it. Boy, am I glad I did. The game itself is extremely fun to play, with a really good, driven storyline. I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone, so I'll just say that at the beginning of the game you awake to find that the Aperture Testing Facility has gone to hell since you destroyed GLaDOS, who was the insane A.I. overseer of said facility. Cue Wheatley, an A.I. sphere who is as smart as a ZX Spectrum, who tries to help you escape. His well-meaning yet slightly inept persona is an immediate source of laughter that consistently delights throughout the game.
In this sequel you'll find out the background of Aperture Science and how GLaDOS came to be, including the CEO of Aperture Science, Cave Johnson - brilliantly voiced by J.K. Simmons. Which brings me to how utterly sublime the script and voice acting is in this game. Ellen McClain is again on top form as GLaDOS, but Stephen Merchant who voices Wheatley is something else. It just may be the best voice acting I've ever had the pleasure of hearing while playing a game.
The game itself will probably take an average of 10 Hrs to complete. It may sound short, but it is such an enjoyable experience, and the scripting, story and voice acting so good, it doesn't matter. For people looking for a decent game that doesn't leave you feeling empty once it's completed, you can't go far wrong than Portal 2.
Not since Populous came out in the late eighties have I been so impressed with a game. Polished, well thought-out, cunning and very challenging.
Ignore anyone who thinks you can complete this in under 10 hours the first time you play it - they are the same people who tell you they drove up the motorway at 120mph in their Escort Van or they skydived out of a balloon with only a lettuce for a parachute. The voice acting and attention to detail in this game is unique and makes a totally different experience to any game you may have played before.
The story was a surprise and genuinely adds to the atmosphere of your gaming experience. Without giving too much away (SPOILER ALERT) - once I had completed the first 20 tests, I thought the game was about to finish - but I was only about 1/3 of the way through.
If, like me - you've become a bit bored with all the first person shooter games, give this a try. However, if you find thinking and looking - a bit dull, then wait a few days and get yourself yet another FPS, you won't like this at all.
To sum it up - this game is different. It would not fit in to the sausage factory of all the other games and probably needs a new genre invented. I would probably call it "The thinking mans tomb raider meets Laurel and Hardy" section.
When I first heard of what Portal was, I wasn't at all sure i'd enjoy it. I mean, I love a good FPS and like an ocassional puzzle, but a first-person based puzzler? nah, didn't think it'd be my kinda thing. But after playing the original on The Orange Box, I loved it! Looking back, I can see how wrong I was, after all, I'm a fan of the 2 main genres it incorporates. What I enjoyed most about Portal was the well written humour, and this sequel offers more of that with level after level of this totally nuts, but working mixture.