Portal 2 Review

It has been around four years since we first started to think with portals. Now, it’s time to time to think outside of the box with Portal 2. The long awaited sequel is finally here. Will you survive the next onslaught of puzzles that are in your way?

The Good

Atmosphere: Compared to the original Portal, Portal 2 is leaps and bounds ahead in terms of the overall level design and surrounding environments. There’s a lot more variation between each stage. You wont just find yourself in the typical white portal test rooms and offices. There are a multitude of differing environments from areas with vegetation surrounding you to vast vistas which include gigantic monolithic structures. The Aperture Science facility is huge and you really get a much better sense of how big it is in Portal 2. Additionally, you will notice levels forming and shaping right in front of your eyes in some of the later stages of the game.

Coop: One of the best pieces to complete the Portal 2 puzzle is COOP. It’s so much fun to play with a friend and it also adds more of a challenge to the game. This is where Portal 2 really shines. You and your friend really need to communicate with each other and be in sync. COOP will definitely keep the game going outside of the single player campaign.

Story: The story is much more pronounced in Portal 2 compared to the first game. You get a real sense of each character you meet and there are a lot more twists compared to the first game. It may take the average player around 6-8 hours to beat the game. It all depends on how fast you can solve each puzzle. As a result, the amount of time needed to complete the game will vary for each player.

Additional Elements: It’s not just you, a box, and portals this time around. There are all sorts of awesome environmental pieces that come into play. This includes lasers that you have to maneuver to certain areas of the level, gels that can make you jump high or run really fast, levitation beams that will move you around the level, and light platforms which you can manipulate and walk across.

Voice Talent: There was a bit of a controversy surrounding the voice actor of Wheatley. Originally Valve animator Richard Lord was the voice behind the character at the E3 demo in 2010. However, his role in voicing the character was temporary since the actual voice actor behind Wheatley was Stephen Merchant. There was a bit of backlash against this decision, but Merchant’s portrayal of the animated AI definitely delivered. You really grow attached to the little robot as the game progresses during both the good and bad times.

J.K. Simmons was another great choice for Portal 2. His delivery of the mad Aperture Science CEO was hilarious. You will hear him back stabbing his own employees, making on the spot decisions that defies all logic, and explaining the oddities associated with the old days of Aperture Science. Ellen McLain also reprises her role for both GLADOS and those lovable turrets. Her evil schemes and odd sense of humor are not in short supply. Overall, this excellent cast provides a collage of humor and excitement that will leave you with a lasting impression.

Challenges: At first glance you may think Portal 2 is pretty easy. Once you get past those cake walk stages you will occasionally be slammed into a wall. This can get frustrating at times, but that’s the fun with this sort of game. You can’t immediately understand every puzzle at first glance. The game actively makes you think with every twist and turn you make.

The Bad

Release Date: We wish the game could have come out sooner, but Valve Time prevailed in the end. On the plus side a lot of indie games got a lot of attention.

Conclusion

Portal 2 is the must have puzzle game of the year. It’s an exemplary experience that you cannot afford to miss. COOP is a great addition to the game and it is executed brilliantly. The story, voice talent, atmosphere, and gameplay elements are outstanding. Portal is a wonderful symphony of puzzles and action that is just too good to pass up.

Portal 2 Review by FacTor-X