Portal 2 - Review

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Release Date: 20/04/2011

Portal 2 on Xbox 360 at GAME

The Impossible Sequel

Portal 2 is no ordinary big game sequel. For starters, it doesn't exactly follow a big game. The first Portal was a short puzzle adventure that creator Valve released as part of The Orange Box, with Half-Life 2 and its episodes and Team Fortress 2, back in 2007. It was also released as a standalone download game.

But Portal's wicked sense of humour and brain-melting puzzles quickly earned it a passionate fan following. In the game, you have to escape a series of test chambers (devised by a mad computer called GLaDOS) using a kind of gun that can open two connected portals on certain surfaces, allowing you to teleport yourself or objects around the room. You can even use it to bend the laws of physics for example, placing a portal at the bottom of a long drop and another in a wall above you, so you fall vertically through the first and shoot horizontally out of the second.

Portal was small but perfectly formed, and it's hard to imagine how Valve could expand on the idea for a big-budget, full-price sequel. But they have done and they've done it brilliantly.

Fun with computers

Portal 2 is a full-scale single-player game with a great story, and a separate co-op campaign for two players. It feels very much like Half-Life 2, as in it's a well-rounded, gripping science-fiction epic. Only in Portal 2 you're exploring, platforming and solving riddles rather than shooting at enemies.

Oh, and laughing. Portal 2 is hilarious. GLaDOS is back with her cruel, sarcastic quips delivered in a mechanical monotone. You're also accompanied for much of the game by a metal eyeball called Wheatley, who sounds and acts like a dim, accident-prone middle-manager from Bristol thanks to voice actor Stephen Merchant.

Portal 2 on Xbox 360 at GAME

Although the player character never says a word, the jokes and banter of these two computers and some other recorded voices you'll hear later on, when the plot takes an unexpected twist will have you roaring with laughter. The story sets up some spectacular action set-pieces, too.

Science is the answer

But the meat of Portal 2 is the test chambers themselves. You'll be scratching your head figuring out how to escape them using not just the portal gun, but a series of new devices and toys introduced in this sequel.

There's the Aerial Faith Plate, a sprung platform that shoots you into the air; the Hard Light Bridge, a beam of light that works as a platform; the Excursion Funnel, a sort of tractor beam; and Repulsion, Propulsion and Conversion Gels, which are coloured paints you can splatter around the rooms to increase your jump height and running speed or make portals in hitherto inaccessible places. That's on top of several different kinds of switches and objects (including laser switches), and the stationary gun turrets you need to pick your way past.

For chamber after chamber, Valve finds hugely fun and ingenious ways to combine these elements with the portals themselves. Wisely, the designers avoid mixing all these mechanics together early on it's only towards the end of the game that things get really convoluted. You will get stumped sometimes, but it's always worth it for the massive satisfaction of the eureka moment when the solution pops into your head.

Two heads are better than one

All that goes double for Portal 2's co-op mode, where you and a friend play as two comical robots (the animation in this game is exceptional), meaning that you can have four portals on the go at once. Valve uses this to put together even more devious tests of your ingenuity and skill.

Portal 2 on Xbox 360 at GAME

If that sounds brain-scrambling... Well, it is, but because you can talk through the puzzles with a friend and combine your brain-power, you will get through and you'll have a blast doing it. It's a fantastic experience, unlike any other co-op game. You really need to work together, and you're rewarded with huge laughs and opportunities for slapstick fun not to mention hours more fun and new puzzles to solve after you've completed the single-player game.

Thanks to a hook-up with Valve's online service Steam, PS3 owners will be able to play this mode with PC and Mac players. The console versions have a split-screen option, too. The game looks and plays sensationally on PC but Portal 2 is a classic, whichever machine you choose to play it on.

It may only be April, but Portal 2 is an easy contender for game of the year. It's great value and totally original, with a satisfying story, a laugh-out-loud script, a wickedly clever design and a completely new kind of multiplayer experience. An essential purchase.

GAME's Verdict:

The Good

  • A big, exciting, mind-expanding single-player adventure that's unlike anything else.
  • One of the funniest games you'll ever play.
  • Co-op campaign is an unforgettable experience

The Bad

  • Some Half-Life fans might think it's too silly to be set in the same world.
  • Not as simple and pure as the first Portal.
  • Might make you feel stupid.
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Pegi Rating:

Suitable for people aged and over.

Genre

Family/Casual

Customer Rating:

No rating yet

SKU:

Reviews-183556

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