Saturday, April 23, 2011

Here We Are Again. It's Always Such a Pleasure.

This review was really difficult to write.

Also, a little startling.

After all, it’s not every day that a seasoned gamer gets that feeling of pure, unadulterated satisfaction upon seeing digital credits roll. It’s even more rare when that sated feeling starts translating into thoughts of, "that’s the best game I’ve played in a long time" and “that’s . . . that’s one of the best games I’ve ever played in my life.”

Yeah. It happened.

Like so many others I fell in love with the 2007 original game and was crazy excited for the sequel. However, part of me worried about how the simple (I use that word very loosely) idea of the 4-hour experiment would translate into a full-fledged game. Would I get tired of the same routine after 8 or so hours? Would all the puzzles manage to be unique from one another? Would the addition of an actual plot deter from the mechanics at all?

In short, the answers are no, yes, and absolutely not.

Waking up in a dilapidated sleep chamber, you are quickly introduced to perhaps the strongest element of the game: the incredible and hilarious writing coupled with some seriously impressive voice work. While I was thrilled beyond belief with knowing that Ellen McLain would be returning as GLaDOS (who is quickly becoming my favorite video game villain) I was floored at how good Stephen Merchant was as Wheatley – your spherical and astoundingly funny companion. It’s hard to remember him opening his mouth (so to speak) and me not laughing.

J.K. Simmons also does an incredible job as Cave Johnson, the CEO of Aperture Science who hates you almost as much as GLaDOS does and seems to have a firm belief in everyone around him being a loser who will do anything for $60.

In addition to the awesome writing and voice talent, the game’s designers deserve immense praise. Not only are the puzzles brilliantly designed but the game does a great job of switching up your surroundings to avoid repetition. Just when I would start to get sick of an area, I would be thrown into an entirely new one. Yes, I definitely got frustrated more than once and I’m not too proud to admit that a few puzzles took me over half and hour to solve.

But oh man, when I did. GLORIOUS.

I can’t even begin to fathom how the developers came up with all the puzzle designs but I’m pretty sure we’d find the origin of the universe in their collective brains should we be given the chance to dig around in there.

The single player campaign of Portal 2 really is, from start to finish, genius. Absolute genius. The co-op mode however, introduces something new to the franchise. You and a buddy play as Atlas and P-Body, two robots built by GLaDOS specifically to run her diabolical courses. Lynsey and I have run through the first course and had a blast.

Well, up until I accidently killed her.

GLaDOS seemed okay with it though.

Really folks, I don’t have too much more to say. This is really a game that has few, if any, flaws. In fact, the only one I can think of off the top of my head is that the scripted events can take awhile sometime and upon additional play-throughs it may be a chore to sit through them all again. But why would you want to skip them anyway?

. . .

Yeah, that’s all I’ve got. Really. That’s the only thing I can think of that could potentially be wrong with this game. I’m sayin’ it, Ladies and Gentlemen: Portal 2 is perfect. Perfect. It’s the kind of game that only comes around once in a blue moon and absolutely should not be missed by anyone. Also, it's rated “E” so you’ve got no excuse.

Get out there and get yourself a copy of what is bound to become the gold standard of puzzle games.


  1. I was amazed at how much physical personality and expression they could animate into a robot that's basically the shape of a basketball with Wheatley. I've not been so charmed by a silly little robot since Wall E.

    You're spot on though; this is a close to a perfect game as I've ever experienced.

  2. Absolutely, Hamwize. This game is truly a testament as to how far talented writing can carry a game, even using talking spheres :)