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When 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).

For 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 Portal.

Now 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.

The 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.

Co-op 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.

Portal 2 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.