Portal 2 Review - Great Gameplay + Great Humor = Awesomeness
The original Portal was a seemingly tacked-on little gem of a game that many fans found top be the best part of The Orange Box. It was a game of puzzles and mind-bending physics that required you to use your mind and your video gaming skills so Chell could could escape Aperture Science and their evil AI, GLaDOS. This time around, we return to Aperture to find Chell awoken after hundreds of years in cryo-sleep. Aperture lies in ruins, but you are awoken by Wheatley, a basketball-sized and -shaped robot brilliantly voiced by Stephen Merchant of The Ricky Gervais Show (among other things, but I watch that show so that's where I know him from). Wheatley is trying to guide you to freedom, but of course something goes wrong and GLaDOS reawakens.
It's Always More Fun the Second Time Around
GLaDOS wakes up, and she is very angry. She wastes no time throwing Chell right back into testing with gusto. Instead of the sterile test chambers you had in the first game (albeit with little behind-the-scenes glimpses), this time you get to see Aperture Science being rebuilt as you play. Every time you enter a new test chamber, you get to see the room putting itself back together again before you dive in and try and find a way out. Later on in the game, test rooms are literally smashed together before you in truly cool fashion.
Though the graphics are not going to blow your mind in Portal 2, they do what they set out to do beautifully. It seems like the designers really wracked their brains to come up with more fun ways to use physics to solve puzzles here. You have your portal gun (or Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (ASHPD) if you prefer), of course, turrets, cubes for activating switches, redirection cubes for redirecting lasers, tractor beams, and what I found the most fun, the various gels.
The gels come in three varieties and colors: propulsion (orange) for increasing your speed, repulsion (blue) for bouncing, and conversion (white), which enables you to turn a portal-resistant surface into one that accepts portals. There is also water in some rooms if you need to clean a surface and start over again.
The inclusion of these gels and functions really opened up the game for increased experimentation for me. I have to admit; the first Portal game didn't entirely do it for me. I found it curious and genre-bending, but I never even finished it. Portal 2, however, captured my attention from the get-go and never let it go. It even made me want to go back and finish the first Portal. The puzzles really made me WANT to solve them, instead of just putting down the controller and popping in a first person shooter. The puzzles, the music, the humor - it all sucked me in.
The Humor, or The Nobel Prize for Being Immune to Neurotoxin
The humor in Portal was integral, but for me it was just a little chuckle. Portal 2 amps up the humor without going over the top. The excellent voice acting from Stephen Merchant (Wheatley), Ellen McLain (GLaDOS), and J.K. Simmons (Cave Johnson) really bring it all home. You may know J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, among other roles, and he has some of the best lines in the game in his role as Cave Johnson.
Cave Johnson is the creator of Aperture Science and you come across some testing chambers in the game in which you are greeted by his now-ancient recordings. You'll find many discussions online talking about some of his great quotes about "tattered hats and beard dirt," among others.
All That and 2-Player Co-op
After blasting through the single player game, I tried out the co-op with a good friend online. Plain and simple: it is an absolute blast. In co-op, you both take control of one of the robots you see at the end of the single player game and take the place of the escaped Chell, solving various puzzles that absolutely require you to work together.
Instead of just having 2 portals of 2 different colors, you now have 4 portals of 4 different colors, allowing you to create some really crazy combinations to get you where you need to go. Not only is solving the puzzles a blast, you can have a lot of fun essentially just screwing around in the test chambers with your partner, dumping them into water or catapulting them across the room.
Recommended? Heck Yes!
If you want an escape from the standard "killing stuff" found in most games, you have to give Portal 2 a try. What little story exists is great, the gameplay is awesome and makes you think, and the humor is the icing on top. You must play this game.
Article by - Brett Huffman
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