Portal 2 Review (Xbox 360)
We all expected Portal to be a puzzle game with an interesting science twist. What we didn’t expect was the caliber of humor alongside the puzzle element; the combination of which sent Portal to the top of several game of the year lists. It’s hard to believe three years have passed since we first met GLaDOS but the long awaited moment has finally arrived as Valve has given us Portal 2. Once again, collectively as game players we share a common thought about Portal, will it live up to what we all expect from it?
What You Need To Know
Portal 2 starts around 15 days after the ending of the first game. Once again you are playing as the silent protagonist, Chell, and before long you are being subjected to multiple test chambers under the eye of GLaDOS. That is where I am going to stop with the story because I don’t want to give out any spoilers. The controls are just as the first game with the addition of a zoom button for those hard to reach surfaces. For coop, several emotions and communication controls have been mapped to a combination of d-pad and right stick inputs. Up on the d-pads is used for things like high fives, hugs and dances while left d-pad opens the circle menu for countdowns and attention icons. For quick access, an attention icon is mapped to the right bumper. One other handy change is the icon that displays the color and placement of your portal when your line of sight is blocked by obstructions. These are all welcomed additions to the game but the real questions is can Portal 2 justify the price tag without repeating itself. Yes it can.
Never Gets Stale
The first Portal only lasted three or four hours to which many agree was the perfect length. Any longer and the puzzles would have started feeling repetitive and the humor would have gotten old. Thankfully, Portal 2 is able to maintain both its level of humor and intriguing puzzles for its duration. The puzzles are kept interesting from a few setting changes and the introduction a some new puzzle mechanics. Some secrets of Aperture’s research and design come to the surface as you encounter technology that is both futuristic and ludicrous; bridges made of light, gels that change the laws of physics and catapults that will send you flying across test chambers. Valve managed to add in these new elements without becoming completely reliant on them as several puzzles still require an old fashioned “speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out” approach.
The humor standard set by the first game is surpassed by leaps and bounds with Portal 2. Throughout the entire game I found myself laughing out loud at all the subtle (and not so subtle) jokes. The story explores the origins of Aperture. After a few hours you will start to feel the eerie parallels between Portal and Half-life that will lead to an inevitable crossover. The writing is stellar, but what really punches the humor is the delivery from the voice acting. All of the characters are vested in Aperture in some way and it is interesting how those different characters can speak of the same corporation from different perspectives. I’ll go on record saying this is the best voice acting in a game ever.
Twice The Game With Coop
As if one game wouldn’t be enough, Valve went all out and gave us a full coop mode that stands alone from the single player experience telling its own story. The previously mentioned communication actions come in very handy while trying to convey your ideas to your teammate. The amount of design to make the coop rooms must have been tremendous. While the addition of two more portals does take some getting used to, the rooms are not just single player rooms with the difficulty multiplied by two. Rooms were constructed in a way that requires two schools of thought to navigate. The amount of solutions coming from my coop partner and myself was split 50/50. I can’t think of a better compliment to give the level design
Portal 2 does everything you would expect and even over delivers without being redundant. The eight hour single player is a solid story with great puzzles and fantastic humor. The addition of a strong, eight hour coop mode is icing on the cake… must… resist… cake… joke… If you had any concerns that Portal 2 would fall short of the first game or that it would not be able to justify a full price, you can put those worries to rest. You shouldn’t even be reading this review. Go buy Portal 2 now. It’s awesome.
Final score – 5/5
Total play time – 15 hours
Beat the single player and coop campaign
Game purchased at retail for full price