Valve have progressed quite a bit since its days with the original Portal. The first was a unique puzzle game with a surprising twist and filled with charm. But after watching my brother go through the entirety of it made me realize the superiority of the sequel in nearly every way.
The Source engine can be commended for its scalability and adaptability to recent technological developments, but there are a couple of issues to note.
First: the loading; it was disruptive to the flow of the game. Valve, needs to invest in streaming technology to mask loading and avoid loading screens.
The second point is texture quality. The game looks fine from afar — excellent even — but when I’m up close investigating the graffiti and posters on the wall, I was disappointed by the less than stellar textures. Even the highest quality options did not do the artwork justice.
Like with the first installment, there were clues to what was going on hidden behind broken panels and other nooks. But unlike the first game, it was not the only means of delivering a narrative. This time, there were more characters on board to share insights and divulge backstory to me. One of them was even voiced by Stephen Merchant who delivered some of the sharpest and funny in-game dialog in quite some time.
I won’t divulge any of the story; don’t worry about that. I would, however, like to share a piece of advice with those who have not played the game yet: pay attention to the environment. As I mentioned, doing so in the first game paid dividends, but Valve took it to the next level in Portal 2.
They made the Aperture Science facility a part of GLaDOS. When she was angry, she would express that throughout my surroundings. Valve empowered her position with this decision and I loved it. If she was the caretaker of the facility in the first game, then she was the facility in this one; she had control of everything and I was in the middle of it all.
When I first heard that they were making a Portal 2, I was afraid they were going drive the whole “think with portals” thing into ground. I mean, what else can you do with portals? It turns out there isn’t much that Valve could have done without introducing more variables into the mix. Valve essentially fused Portal with Tag, another independent project developed by DigiPen students. And unless you knew that beforehand, you wouldn’t be able to tell Portal 2 had such indie roots.
No, Portal 2 has grown into its own game. Valve even tucked those telltale Source engine callbacks away. No more Half-Life 2 loading bars or option screens; they went out of their way to polish this game up and prop it up as more than just a mod or a spruced up indie project. This game was big — Half-Life kind of big. Even more so, in my opinion.
Out of all of Valve’s properties, the Portal franchise quickly rose to the top of the heap. Portal 2 is the summation of Valve’s knack for innovation and uniqueness. From the moment it opens, Portal 2 amused and enlightened. It made me laugh, it made me feel like the smartest person in the world and at the same time, the dumbest. I didn’t know it, but I was feeling a bit of ‘shooter fatigue’ after all the Killzone, Crysis and Dead Space I’ve been playing.
Thank goodness for Portal 2 for brightening up my gaming year thus far.
For more information on Portal 2, visit the official website.
2010 PC Rev. 1.1 was used to play Portal 2.