The lights are on
it comes to comedy, one has to admit that the writing process must be pretty difficult
for popular shows such as Parks and
Recreation or How I Met Your Mother
to be as funny as they are. The writing as well as the subtle nuances an actor adds to his or her performance
for the audience is arguably what makes the comedy work. To put it simply, to
recreate this in a game is immensely difficult especially when players have
some level of control over what happens in the situation (such as the camera or
even level progression to skip dialogue). This along with the potential for
having to restart sequences due to failure makes the repetition of jokes happen
frequent enough that they get watered down much faster than a few re-runs on
the TV. So the fact that Valve was able to make Portal 2, a first person shooter puzzle game, funny, is beyond
belief (especially considering the expectations coming from the success of
comedy in the first game).
those of you out there who have not played Portal
you should not be discouraged from playing this game. While it is possible to
play through the campaign never touching the original game, like any sequel you
will get a lot more out of the experience if you experienced the original.
Luckily for those of you who haven’t played Portal
you are in luck because it is a fantastic game in its own right and should not
be considered a chore by any means to play it before attempting Portal 2. I can also only imagine that
the concept of portals as a puzzle will be easier to comprehend once completing
I said that Portal 2 is a first
person shooter puzzle game, so what exactly does that mean? For the non-sci-fi
nerds out there, a portal is merely something with an entrance and an exit. You
go in one way and come out the other, so just think of it as controlled
teleportation, allowing for physics based puzzles. Transferring this into a
first person shooter is as simple as it sounds, add a gun and let it be shown
in first person. The real ingenuity in Portal
2 is that it can take this simple concept and twist it in such a way that
makes for real stimulating and challenging puzzles. Also unlike the original
there are a lot of new editions to the puzzles such as laser redirection cubes,
light bridges, three kinds of physics manipulating gel, all of which can and
will be used in multiple puzzles later in the campaign. “But I’m not good at
puzzles” you may be saying you yourself, but do not fear! One of the most
beautiful aspects of this game and the gameplay, is that Valve implemented each
addition as well as their conceptual use in such a manner that you become
naturally trained to see how to do a puzzle (after a few attempts of course).
This makes the reward for solving a puzzle huge because you get that sense of
fulfillment in your own abilities to perform under hard circumstances.
original Portal is a arguably a one
trick pony whose potential was not fully realized, however in the sequel with
all the additions as well as three wonderfully voice casted characters (which
aid you throughout the campaign) I found myself going back to play the campaign
just to hear the jokes and revisit the different test chambers. The music is
more or less non-existent during a lab sequence (probably to allow for
concentration) but the constant chatter of either GlaDos (the “antagonist”) or
Wheatley (your “ally”) provide for silly commentary that makes the individual
puzzles less of a chore and more of an experience. Portal 2 also attempts to answer questions about Aperture’s history
(the company in which you do your puzzles in) which flushes out more of the
environment and to give the player a better sense of where they are and why it
exists and is also executed beautifully, providing a side story plot for
players to also engage and enjoy in. With new DLC out that is also free, there
is plenty of puzzles to do with friends and with the addition of markers,
interacting with people who don’t own microphones does not prevent one from
completing a level. While it is more mechanics driven, the puzzles are too good
to pass up on, really showing the creativity behind the development team with
their performance in two portal bearing puzzles.
in every way earns its retail price tag and should be played by anyone who is a
fan of humor, first person games, or puzzles. The creativity implemented in
taking a simple concept and turning it into hours of endless fun is well worth
the price of admission and so go out and try Portal 2 as soon as possible.
Disclaimer: No Seattle Bias but Valve is amazing.
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