(This has been sitting in my drafts since April, probably time to get it out there, hey? Also, deleted and reposted because it was in the wrong bit)
Months and months of hype, release dates being pushed back and mysterious references to potatoes were finally silenced as Portal 2 was released this week.
It’s took me a little over two days to finish it and I found that my original predictions were correct: This game isn’t worth the hype.
I can’t say that my view of Portal 2 is unbiased. After I initially heard about Portal 2 being released, I wasn’t impressed. “Seriously!” I thought, “How on earth do they justify this?” I am, as I always probably will be, of the opinion that Portal didn’t need a sequel, not until after the sneaky update Valve released.
Now, before the lynching mob start screaming for my blood, lemme give you my review of the game – then you can come hang me by my lower intestines and drain me dry.
Now, I can’t really comment on anything in the first 5 minutes or so, when Chell comes out of “reanimation” since it’s meant to be a tutorial to new-comers to Portal. So I’ll move past that. Yay! Tutorial! *learns*
The atmosphere the game, a post-apocalyptic jungle feel, does get the ball rolling and you make your way through the first few chambers from Portal 1 and the voice-over makes comments about what happened in the outside world.
What? Sorry about that. Like in the first Portal game, elevator loading screens are ever present, but Valve have somehow managed to make the short loading screens far more frustrating by cutting away to an Apature Science loading screen. I know this sounds like a small nag that I’m picking at, but when each level takes less than two minutes, the constant loading takes away from the enjoyment from the game.
I do enjoy the commentary by the voice-over. For a game that doesn’t use much language to propel the story-line, it instead uses it to add humour to situations that seem lacking. For instance, the commentator mentions something about how hundreds of robots used in testing have been given a copy of the Rules of Robotics to share and if you feel that a robot has invaded your privacy or completes an action that contradicts the rules of robotics, you should write it down in your notebook and a future Apature Science engineer will file the appropriate paperwork. Horrah!
Once you get the Portal gun, things begin to move along quite quickly. Wheatley is your companion during the game and he helps in your attempts to escape the chambers.
Things start going pear-shaped when you accidentally bring GLaDOS back to life and she immediately goes back to testing. GLaDOS does hold a grudge about you killing her and she’s not afraid to call you a horrible person, or make fun of how fat Chell has gotten since the last game. Rather, she congratulates you on “beating the odds” on malnutrition and packing on a few pounds. Aw, you’re so nice GLaDOS.
Valve takes the time to introduce some new game play mechanics. I had so much fun with the repulsion (bouncy) gel and putting in on cubes and turrets (seeing turrets go bouncing around the room was gleeful) and generally having fun with it. The propulsion gel was useful to get across gaps where you couldn’t had a portal and using the two together proved to be a handy mix. The last gel is Conversion gel. A white paint substance that you could splash on a wall (or paint with Portals!) and bam! Instant portal wall.
You learn the history of Aperture Science with a tour through the old labs, which is where the above-mentioned gels are introduced and about the founder of Aperture Science founder, Cave Johnson and his assistant Caroline. Since the messages for the tour were recorded around the 50s, it’s all perky and good-spirits in the beginning. As you travel through the old labs, you slowly learn about the illnesses associated with Science(!) and the game takes a somewhat grittier turn, story-wise and Cave tells you what you can do with those damned lemons life seems to be handing out constantly.
Puzzle-wise, the game isn’t quite as challenging as Portal 1. Portal 2 seems more story-based instead of controller-busting brain teasers. I’m hugely disappointed with this because that’s what I loved about Portal 1. I spent forever (no, seriously. It took me twice as long to finish Portal because I could not move past some incredibly rage-inducing levels.) trying to find the perfect spot for a portal to move through the level. While the chambers can be challenging, I just wasn’t finding the learning curve to be as difficult as I was hoping.
The newest feature for the game is the addition of multiplayer. I’ve had a few rounds with my friends and unless you’re playing it with someone who hasn’t played the multiplayer levels (or played them as far as you have), it seems to be a drag on players. You know what to do but your buddy is still messing around with something behind you, although, it’s good fun when you’re get into it.
I’m completely underwhelmed by Valve’s latest puzzle game. While it works as a stand-alone game, the idea of it continuing the story doesn’t strike me as something the original needed until Valve changed the final cut scene (a dodgy move for a money-grab, imo). A frustrating game that occasionally hits the right buttons.