Back in 2007, Portal received huge accolades for its unique style of gameplay and dark sense of humor. Now, four years later, the sequel manages to harness all the momentum from the first game and make an even better, expanded experience that really is something special. Those familiar with the series know that the first game was very light on details, but this sequel fills in many of the gaps that were left from that game. There is a nice blend of gameplay from the first game to the second, and those that have played the first game will recognize certain settings and characters. But at the same time, this game is still very accessible to those who have never played Portal before.
The single-player should be the most familiar mode to everyone and this picks up right where Portal left off. You find yourself in what seems to be a hotel room and from there the adventure starts. You meet up with a friendly droid and the two of you make your way through a seemingly desolated Aperature Science. Soon. you learn that GLaDOS is back and you know you must take her out before you can really be free. The story isn’t anything too complex, but it gives you enough motivation to keep moving forward and enjoy the ride along the way.
Portal 2 manages to stick to its roots of being a puzzle game, and an excellent one at that. You still work with the portal gun, and a handful of puzzles in the beginning should feel familiar. As you progress, newer and more complicated elements are introduced, all the way through to the end of the game. Players will be happy to know that the learning curve is not as steep as people feared it would be based on the trailer. The game is very accessible to new players, so you shouldn’t worry about having to play the first game to understand the second.
Visually, Portal 2 is a much more immesive and detailed game than the game that came before. The textures have been filled out and detailed and the environments are expansive and varied. One of the problems of the first game was you never left the training facility. You always saw white or grey walls and you saw them over and over again. This time around you’ll see environments that are more than just white walls but rather a testament of the facility that kept you down the first game. You will also see a lot of areas that add even more character to the game which is a welcomed addition. Overall, Portal 2 looks great and it takes the franchise to levels never seen before in the series
The biggest change from Portal is the addition of characters and a more robust story line. The first game was very sterile, with little to no interaction with anything other than GLaDOS. In this game there is much more to interact with and the story in general feels more fleshed out. All the humor present in the first game is back with a vengeance now. It seems like sarcasm is just dripping from every corner of this game, so if you appreciate sarcastic humor this game is definitely for you. In general, the single-player campaign is just a lot better in every way. Whether you loved the characters from the first game or you appreciated the sense of humor and style, it all makes a triumphant return and is vastly improved from the first game.
The next big addition to the game, aside from the story and visual upgrades, is a co-op mode and the option for Playstation 3 gamers to play with Steam gamers. The co-op mode is an independent story and game from the single-player, featuring different maps optimized for two separate players. The co-op feels a lot like the first game as far as atmosphere is concerned. Either way there is still plenty of content to go through and your favorite villainess guides you along the way and provides many memorable and sarcastic lines guaranteed to make you laugh. The co-op feels great and since the levels were designed to play with two players, everything runs smoothly. Many may be curious about the integration with Steam, and I have to say that it’s seamless. When you play on the computer or the PS3 there is very little lag and you can switch between the PS3 overlay or the Steam overlay, depending on your preference. This was a welcome addition to the game and it only makes an already great game even better.
In conclusion, Portal 2 is already one of the best games of the year, taking the success of the first game and finding a way to make it better. Few games and developers can take such a simplistic and nondescript atmosphere and make it a modern masterpiece. Portal 2 is simply intoxicating and dares you to play it. You want to know what is going to happen to all the characters you meet, and when faced with a difficult challenge, it makes you solve it regardless of the required time. Few games can be hypnotic to the level that Portal 2 is, which is why I can say with complete confidence that you should play this game as soon as you can.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Portal 2 developed by Valve Software
- Great Story
- Challenging Puzzles
- Everything You'd Want in a Sequel