The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
Putting a 2011 game on this list may seem sacrilegious to some. I mean, most of these lists will include some sort of game which the person grew up with or one that made a huge impact on their life. I can say without a doubt that Portal 2 performed the latter, resulting in my pick for Game of the Year 2011.
Portal was conceived back in 2007, when it came as a pack-in title with the Orange Box, a compilation disc including Half-Life 2 and it's Episodes. Most people just wanted that game, however, the strange puzzle game Portal was included. Turns out, many people liked Portal just as much, and if not more than Half Life 2. Valve created a critical and commercial darling, which in the end took the prize for many publications Best Game of 2007.
Fast forward a few years, and Valve knew they had to up the stakes; raise the bar. Portal was praised for its brilliance, leading one journalist to state "It's the most innovative thing since Russians started dropping blocks". That's a huge compliment, however, Portal is not without it's fault. It's drastically short length (about 1-2 hours) was a huge turn-off, and no multiplayer of any kind did not help. Valve heard the community's problems and addressed them all on April 19th, 2011.
Often heralded as the best puzzle game ever made, but does Portal 2 surpass it?
I had been following Portal 2 pretty closely. The new additions the the already ingenious style of play looked pretty amazing, but I was still scared about the story. I like my games to have an engaging story to keep me moving throughout the experience, and that was the main problem I had with the first Portal. From the very beginning of Portal 2, I was hooked. I was hoping they would veer off into the direction I was looking for, a light-hearted yet deep story, and it delivered on all fronts. Wheatley was outright hilarious as a bumbling Personality Core, and the disembodied Cave Johnson had me on the floor. No joke. The lemonades!!
But in the midst of the great storytelling, it's still tough to forget just how great the concept of placing Portals truly is. You're solving spatial reasoning puzzles which would be hard even without the gun. If you haven't played this game, whatever you do, DO NOT USE A GUIDE. It ruins the feeling of satisfaction completely. I once spent an entire hour staring at a puzzle, and when I finally got it, I felt like Einstein. There is no greater feeling than solving these puzzles.
The environments look pretty darn good for a 7-some year old engine, and it moves fluidly in about 30FPS. The scale is impressive in some locations, and the witty dialogue keeps you moving even in areas where tension sags. Act 2 is notorious for being more boring because of the puzzles themselves being a little tricky (wimps), but Cave Johnson keeps you going because you want to hear more. You need to hear more.
This game is everything I want in a game. Story, gameplay, puzzles, and witty characters all contribute to what I name the best game of 2011, and my 6th favorite game of all time.