The test results are in: you’re probably going to buy “Portal 2.” After the huge success of the first “Portal” game that was attached to “The Orange Box” game pack from Valve, gamers have been waiting with bated breath for the sequel. The series has humble beginnings, and a simple concept, but the game is so much more than just a gun that shoots paired portals.
In this shiny new sequel, Valve has brought us a few new things to play around with. For one, there is a single player campaign that continues the story from the first game. There is also a cooperative campaign where each player is given their own portal gun to wield, but the most interesting feature of the cooperative campaign is the “cloud gaming” feature. This allows players on a PS3, a PC or a Mac computer to play together. You can also save your games in this same format, and move between the PS3 and computer seamlessly. Though at the moment the PlayStation Network is down and prevents online play from that console, players can still play split-screen on the same console, or co-op over the Steam network.
The single player campaign is superb. The intro levels where Valve has to teach new players how the game works are made fun through quirky dialogue and actions. You start the game by making your escape yet again from Aperture Labs, and along the way you get to meet some old enemies and make new friends. The puzzles start out simple and ramps up in difficulty as the game goes on. At about halfway through the game, I became worried that I had come to the end, but I was thrown for a loop and spent the next several hours playing through to an epic finish.
There are several new mechanics and objects added to “Portal 2.” Faith plates launch the player across a room, or perhaps into a portal, and can provide for some high flying puzzle solving. Throughout the game you get to utilize all the different gadgets to solve the puzzles. The voice acting and music set the tone. The intercom that talks to you becomes a character unto itself, explaining the history of Aperture, how puzzles work or even just humorous anecdotes. The angry comments of a vengeful GLaDOS following you along as you play add more depth and humor. I found myself taking my time on the puzzles just to hear what jabbing comment GLaDOS would say next.
The next portion of “Portal 2” is the cooperative campaign. The cooperative play consists of five level packs with several puzzles per pack. At a steady clip, my friend and I were able to complete one of the packs of levels in 40 minutes, and that allows for the obligatory moments where we each used our portal to kill the other. Each player takes the form of bipedal robots complete with personalities, and GLaDOS uses that against you. While you are playing, she will comment on your progress, compare you to humans, praise one of you over the other and generally try to get you to kill each other. The puzzles are brilliant. At one point, one player would place two portals, one on the floor the other on the ceiling, and the other robot jumps in them and picks up speed. The first robot then switches his portal and launches the second onto a ledge to collect a box. It’s genius how they put these puzzles together in such a way that you have to work together to solve the riddle.
“Portal 2” is a great title that comes on every console except the Wii. If you buy it for the PS3 you get a free copy for your computer. It’s a title that has a simple concept, but uses that concept in ways that many would never perceive. Anyone can pick up this title and start playing. It’s rated for everyone above the age of 10, and that is everyone that should give this game a shot. The voice acting, the musical ambiance, the scenery and the mechanics make this game a little more than just pixels on the screen. They make it an experience.