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Published on April 22nd, 2011 | by Charlie

3

Review: Portal 2

Release Date: April 19th 2011 (US), April 21st 2011 (UK)   Genre(s): First Person Puzzler Developer: Valve Publisher: Valve, EA Games (retail) Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+), 12+

[Rating: 10/10] (10)

Portal 2 has arrived…. ABOUT TIME! After a few delays, lots of promotion, and so many playthroughs of the first game, I finally got to play the full game! This game… is just the most fun I and many people have had in such a long time. The night before Portal 2 arrived through my door, I just couldn’t sleep. It was like Christmas all over again. The first Portal was, let’s say an experiment for Valve; a prototype. In no way did Valve believe they would be making the sequel they have just made. Back in 2007, they had no idea Portal would get the response it received. Portal 2 was so worth the wait! Last year, the Steam version of Portal received an update in where after the explosion of Aperture Science; Chell (the main protagonist) is dragged back into the facility. This update was not added on the other versions, unfortunately. Then a couple of weeks ago, Valve released a new comic, in which Rat Man, who is an unseen character in the franchise, placed Chell in stasis forever. The single player game starts 50 days after that, in which the facility wakes up their subjects every so often. Once Chell has done her routine exercises, the game then moves further into the future… as in hundreds of years into the future. When she wakes up, her room is rusted and mouldy. She hears a voice at the door and opens it, where she meets a personality core named Wheatly. He is to try and help Chell escape the facility… um, because well um, everybody else is dead- MOVING ON. As they both try to escape, they need to travel through GLaDOS’ chamber. They both travel below the chamber to try and look for an escape pod, but Wheatly messes up and accidentally wake up GLaDOS. Chell and GLaDOS meet face to face once more, and rather than kill her, GLaDOS decides to test Chell some more, putting her through a bunch of test chambers. I don’t want to explain any more in the story, because honestly, it’s pretty tough to keep the story secret and unspoilt. But I will say that the story contains more surprises than any game you will have played in the past -how many years you may have lived-. And the ending blows your mind (just saying).

Mind boggling. Can you figure it out? Took me a while.

Normally, I never do this in a review, but I just have to talk about the characterization. The characters in the game (as few as there is) are so believable. The dialogue is some of the funniest I have ever heard. Let’s start with Chell; I know what you may be thinking. Chell is a silent protagonist, so how is she exactly believable? Well as the characters speak around her, you begin to think exactly what she may be thinking herself, so you do really feel like you are her. Next is Wheatly, voiced by Stephen Merchant, is so goofy and is just full of sarcastic humour. At first, when they replaced Wheatly’s voice after E3, I was as disappointed as everybody else, but Stephen Merchant’s personality started to grow on me (thanks Barclays adverts), and I began to like the new Wheatly I saw in the shown footage. Now that I’ve played the game, I think they couldn’t have chosen a better person than Mr Merchant. Next comes GLaDOS. She’s a little different from the first Portal; no she does not have a different voice actor. It’s still the fantastic Ellen McLain, but being woken up after so long has slightly changed her. She hates Chell for what she did to her, so GLaDOS has a lot to say to her, and likes to also do it in a sarcastic manner. Finally, you have Cave Johnson, voiced by J.K. Simmons who is the CEO of Aperture Science. He helps guide you through another part of the game later on. That is all I can tell you without spoiling anything, but he does sound like a character from the 1950’s… strangely. Portal 2 has taken a major upgrade since the first one. The first thing you’ll notice is that the facility has overgrown with moss and weeds. Also, doors, cubes, and elevators have also had an upgrades, where the cubes that light up, the doors have a different texture, and the elevators are also sized for a single person (unlike Portal 1’s elevators, which could fit multiple people), and travel up and down through chutes. Puzzles are also a lot harder than Portal, and of course, since this is a sequel that’s 3 times as long, there are a lot more of them. A lot of new features have also been added, such as Ariel Faith Plates, which launch you and whatever is placed on it to soar through the air. Also new are lasers, which help to unlock doors or bring up panels which help you reach inaccessible areas. New additions also include three different types of gels:
  • Repulsion Gel – Allows the player to jump to incredible heights depending at the height they jumped from. When the gel is dropped on an object, the object begins to bounce like crazy.
  • Propulsion Gel – Allows the player to run at incredible speeds.
  • Conversion Gel – Allows the player to create portals on flat surfaces that couldn’t originally create Portals.
The game requires you to think a lot, and I think the longest time it took me to figure out a test chamber was a good half an hour. Valve, you are so clever. How did you accomplish such a gem of a game? One thing the game did lack is those tubes which suck things into them. Even though it doesn’t have that, you don’t really notice it’s not there. In fact, if you haven’t seen the trailers, you really don’t care. Anyway, Gels are an extremely interesting addition to the game, because since your environments are big open spaces, a lot of thinking will be done.

The power is in my hands... mwahahaha. I could crush you at any moment... but I need you.

Next comes the Co-Op, which has its entirely own story and puzzles that requires two players. The characters here are Atlas and P-Body; Atlas looks like Wheatly on legs, and P-Body looks like a walking turret, without the turret part. The co-operative segment requires you to think, and think, and think with another friend. Puzzles can be all sorts, from creating light bridges which may spread out in different directions, which can only be done using 4 portals or a puzzle where one person has to navigate through a maze, and the other person has to press buttons to help the other person progress through that maze. Throughout the Co-Op, GLaDOS tries to split Atlas and P-Body up by praising one robot and then badmouthing the other one, as if GLaDOS is trying to make the robots jealous of each other, but she finds it quite tough to do so. Also, if one, or indeed both of you dies, you are just sent back to the beginning of that section of the chamber, so there’s no checkpoint. The Co-Op is shorter than the actual campaign, but you don’t really care because you can just play it as much as you like. Plus with the achievements in the actual game you can obtain, you’ll have hours of fun! Portal 2 is basically perfect in every way. Fantastic characters, mind crushing puzzles, a great addition with co-op, and one of the finest ending songs ever released. Is the ending song better than “Still Alive”? No. Are they as great as each other? Definitely. You got to love Jonathan Coulton for how creative his song writing is. With Portal 2, saying “aha! That’s how you do it” never felt so good! So now that Portal 2 is out… Valve. I think you know what you have to do next (EPISODE 3!!!).

The Good

  • More surprises than 10 birthday parties put together
  • Better than Portal 1 by far
  • Fantastic characters
  • Perfect length of a game
  • Extremly mind boggling
  • Perfect end song yet again
  • Now means we’re one step closer to Episode 3/HL3 right?

The Bad
  • Ummm…. Nothing really. This game is basically perfect.
  • If there was anything bad, you got so immersed that you didn’t notice a thing.
[Rating: 10/10] (10)

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About the Author

Some say I should be a video game journalist, others say a video game designer. Shame you can't be both.



  • Iain

    That test you show in the first screenshot irritated the tits off me for a long time, when I worked out how to make it easier I kicked myself. So very obvious once you work it out… but that’s the genius of the game. Everything is so complex, especially later on, but the solutions end up being so obvious.

  • Fbillybob

    10/10?

    Oh for pitys sake……

    I’ve been reading NAVE for a while now, but as soon as I saw 10/10 that’s it for me i’m afraid.

    Please, show some balls and point out the bad points in a title or just dont bother

    • Charlie Murray

      If you read the review, in the 360 version, there basically is no faults that I saw.

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