Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Jump through hoops... inter-spatial hoops!" A review of Portal 2

So Valve has finally come out with a sequel I've been eagerly waiting for! No it's not Half-Life Part 3 it's Portal 2!
I loved the first Portal, as did most others considering its popularity, and it was a certainty that Valve would make a sequel and it doesn't disappoint!

So normally I'd do a review that is spoiler filled focusing on the story of the single player experience however since the singleplayer AND multiplayer games stories consist of solving puzzles with dialogue interspersed in between there's a fairly small (yet fantastic mind you) amount of actual story. To sum things up in the context of the single player campaign you once again play as Chell from the first game and you are once again forced by GlaDos to solve a myriad of test chambers all in the name of SCIENCE! You have to escape, and your only friend is Wheatley (a personality sphere voiced by British Comedian Stephen Merchant). The result is a wacky and mind bending game that will please fans of the first games for its charming wit and great gameplay.

However I must start this review off with the most surprising (and most awesome) addition to Portal 2. The SPLIT SCREEN CO-OP mode! Yes! Yes! Yes! After a long friggin time wishing games that focused on multiplayer would at least put in a split screen function as well as an online multiplayer. Most people who actually read this might know from previous entries that I am not a fan of online multiplayer or DLC's for that matter (the latter I view as a blatant attempt to cash in on players desire to play portions of the game that were "left out." The former because I am admittedly a bad gamer and also because I was sick and tired of getting blasted with childish insults every other match.) I have long since ended my online accounts so the only viable option for someone who still likes playing with his buddies is to find split-screen capable games, which have become scarce in recent years.
So it was a fairly pleasant surprise to find that Portal 2 had a split-screen multiplayer mode, and I'm glad to be able to play what is undoubtedly the most fun aspect of the game. I love the multiplayer aspect of Portal 2, and it is a welcome addition to the game.

The single player mode is pretty much what you'd expect from Portal, however it's the story and the comedy that make the single player mode memorable. Through the course of the game you are taken on a tour of the history of Aperture Science and even some history on the origins of GlaDOS herself. I will even go so far as to say that by the time you finish the game you will come to see her in a new light. The best part of the story has to, undoubtedly, be the levels on the older levels of the Aperture facility. In the game you are tossed into the bowels of the facility and are forced to go through numerous testing labs to ascend back up to the surface. Here the common insults of GlaDOS change to pre-recorded messages of the founder of Aperture, Cave Johnson voiced by J. Jonah Jameson himself JK Simmons. Simmons' brings a welcome change from GlaDOS' usual taunts, bringing instead humorous comments ranging from hinting at forced irradiation and dangerous side effects caused by moon dust.
However, Simmons' Cave Johnson is just one of the new characters added to the game. The most humorous (and somewhat tragic) is Merchant's Wheatley. The somewhat dimwitted personality sphere serves as your only ally for the first half of the game. Merchant is great as Wheatley who is by far my favorite character in the game. Between his suppressed hatred for humans and how they smell to his shyness when hacking doors he is always a fun character to listen to.

The witty atmosphere that made the first game popular is intact in this game. The deadly yet ever so loveable turrets make a return in the game (with a musical upgrade it seems). The companion cube makes a return as well though this is sadly short lived. To be perfectly honest there are so many things in this game I love for its humorous wit that I simply cannot name them all. You simply must find them out yourself.

To sum things up Valve has once again outdone itself with a fun and engrossing game that will please fans of the original and entertain newcomers.

I give Portal 2 five companion cubes out of five for its hilariously wonderful characters, gameplay, and multiplayer.

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