Portal 2: Review

Because I was lazy enough for not to do a new one.

This review was first published in my Tumblr, and as you can see there, the idea was to write a deeper one for this blog. And then I realized I will talk a lot about Portal and Portal 2 in the future, getting into details of each games, so I just copied the entry here like some sort of introduction. If you haven’t read it already, hope you enjoy it.

…how have you been?

It’s almost impossible, no matter how hard you try, to get impressed by Portal 2 (Valve Software, 2011)  in the same way the original game did. Even if you didn’t play Portal, internet probably gave you a big glipmse of what the game is about (and maybe a big slice of cake as well). With that in mind, there are two possible options to overcome that situation: to make a completely different game or create a more diverse one on the ground already settled. Neither one of those is the right answer, more over, the simplest one.

If you check Wiki you will see that the development team actually planned to drop the original portals mechanic, but nobody liked that idea (fortunately for us). That is, the first option I listed was considered. After that, starting from scracht, the team sketched and tested a new bunch of elements in order to diversify the game mechanic, creating alongside that a new storyline, a new art direction and developing the new co-op mode.

They did it well. They did it great. Actually, they did it awesome!.

Portal 2 can be easily the best game released this year.

But that is what all reviews say, I want to point at some various design flaws you could see in an almost perfect game. Those flaws are the result of a bigger (and better) game, it’s natural to have them as a result of a heavier design and development process.

I think that in some point, in what you can call the second act (the Cave Johnson section) the design happens to be poor and repetitive between chambers. The inclusion of the gels is a new and fresh idea (read more here) but more of the vast enviroment represents a challenge because where to shoot the portals is a problem, not the puzzle solving itself. An experienced player can go by those enviroments almost automatically, which isn’t boring thanks only to the dialogues. And that happens again between chambers in the last section of the game. I think people at Valve wasted a great oportunnity to give the players the chance to really explore those enviroments. Replayability is not only achieved by giving new chambers, it could be done by having more than one path to get to the same point, even if discovering those paths is the only puzzle involved. Imagine GTA with portals. I’m not saying that Portal FPS nature have to be changed, but it could be enriched in many ways. And they didn’t.

And GLaDOS is disappointed.

Most chambers can be redefined by changing orientation, rotating some walls, putting acid in some places (as the first game did with the special chambers). They didn’t include those changes either.

I think those are big mistakes.

Actually, some new elements like the Aerial Fate Plate and the White Gel are poorly used throughout the game.

To co-op mode fails in the same spots, and actually, I think they are more obvious there.

Valve putted special effort in giving two whole different experiences, trying to create a game more close to Team Fortress, Left 4 Dead and the general “games as service” idea. That is not a bad intention, but those flaws listed are pretty obvious to me. People at Valve totally saw them too, I’m sure of it.

Either way, the story, the music, the game and art design; the voice acting, (Stephen Merchant and J.K. Simmons as Weathly and Cave Johnson are simply wonderful), the pace, the difficulty curve, the ending song, GLaDOS whole new dimesion in personality and every element in Portal 2 is almost hand crafted in such a way it seems like a new game, different from the original.

In an era where such pointless games as Call Of Duty are the standard, products like Portal 2 gave gamers faith in the media we love.



4 Responses to “Portal 2: Review”

  1. Alejandro Hitti Says:

    “In an era where such pointless games as Call Of Duty are the standard, products like Portal 2 gave gamers faith in the media we love.”

    That happens in every media type I guess… Movies, for example, have all these blockbuster movies that are just action flicks with a standard story and everyone loves them, but the really GOOD movies, with amazing dialogues and smart direction are often overlooked by the masses and only the true fans of the media recognize them 😛

    • nicolailobachevscki Says:

      There is a lot to say regarding that matter let me tell you. But even when I agree with your comment, is not that simple.

      I have a draft of another article about what you have said, but I don’t know when I will publish it, because right now I think I don’t have enough knowledge to be as much objective as I want. I will work on that little by little anyway.

      Thanks for visiting.

      • Alejandro Hitti Says:

        Yeah I know it’s not that easy xD It was just a summary of the problem hehehe… I’ll be waiting for that post then 😛 We can finish the discussion there!


  2. Contextual Reference in Dark Recon (II) « Lakitu's Dev Cartridge Says:

    […] A thing I didn’t like in Portal 2 is the way Valve separated each room. I wrote it in my review about the game, that was an easy way to keep the design simple, but also was a way to waste a great opportunity to […]

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