Sunday, May 15, 2011

Xbox 360 - Portal 2

Portal 2 by Valve

Portal 2 is the follow up to Portal. Portal is available through the Orange Box game set or via download on Xbox Live. Obviously, it's also available on other platforms (both Portal 1 and Portal 2).


Mini-review. Portal starts as a unique and fresh take on a shooter. Instead of being a straight first person shooter, it turns the gun into a portal creation device. So, you run around in 'test' chambers creating portals and then running through them to get to other places in the room without walking. So, you can create an orange and blue portal. This creates two doors linked together.

Portals are like mini-rifts in the time fabric that let you walk through the portal and enter one place and exit wherever the other doorway is. Portals can be created on floors, ceilings, walls or wherever a portal surface is. Portals can only be created on special surfaces. Some surfaces cannot create portals (like metal).

In the first Portal, you were a test subject thrown into a series of test rooms to test out the portals and whether you could solve the puzzles using the portal guns. In among all of the tests there are motion sensing shooting robots, a quirky and somewhat insane robotic female computer along with other traps that could kill or maim you. At the end of Portal, your character ends up shutting down the main insane female computer to prevent it from becoming more insane (and, of course, to escape).

To solve many of the puzzles, you are tasked with dropping down long drops into created portals to fling yourself across the room using momentum.

Score for Portal: 8.5/10.

Portal 2 -- story

Portal started this whole new genre of puzzle shooters. This is a unique game with an odd twist on a shooter. It's fresh and unique and sits in its own unique place in the gaming world. Hello other developers, you might want to take notice.

Portal 2 continues with where Portal ended. It's not exactly clear how you get there, but you are now many years in the future. So, you start off with a somewhat odd flying eye bot with a male British or Aussie accent. This bot leads you back into the test chambers again where, eventually, you awaken the insane female robot computer from the first Portal. Now that she's awake, she begins testing you again with various rooms and new trials. Except, now this eye bot is helping you along and the female computer is now seeking revenge (even though she says she isn't). So, you meet up with the insane female robot computer again and things take a turn when you disconnect her and connect up the eye bot to the mainframe. So, now the eye bot is in charge and the insane female robot computer gets shoved into a potato.

As you carry the potato around, she talks to you trying to devise a way to get herself back into the mainframe and get the eye bot out. Worse, the eye bot doesn't seem to understand the system at all and is now leading the entire test facility towards destruction.

So, you are now tasked to work your way back up from the very earliest levels of the facility to the most recent and to the chamber with the eye bot. And, there are some new things you need to do along the way.

Liquid blobs and flinging

As you progress, you will run into holes dropping various colored paint blobs. These liquids do various things. The orange liquid is very slick and makes you slide. The blue liquid makes you bounce. The white liquid lets you 'paint' surfaces to create portals. The clear liquid washes any of it off. The liquids can also be dropped onto things to disturb them (like robots).

Now instead of just trying to figure out how to get out of the room with portals and momentum, you have to use the liquids creatively to coat surfaces. This allows you to create speed and momentum to jump through portals to fling yourself across the room onto a ledge or some other surface. You are tasked with figuring out which surfaces to coat.


The story is mostly reasonable. It takes place many years after the first incident. But, the robot says she doesn't hold a grudge, although it's quite clear she does. Note that the insane female robot computer has some of the best lines in this game (including Portal) and they all happen during the first few test chambers. After she becomes a potato, the one-line zingers basically stop.


This game relies almost entirely on humor to carry it. While the puzzles can be challenging, it's really the female robotic computer voice that makes this game. Unfortunately, the eye bot is not so much that way. His British or Australian accent is annoying and his lines aren't funny at all. It's a good thing that he disappears for a good bit of this game, otherwise this game wouldn't be nearly as much fun to play.


This is a good follow-up to Portal. The game is nearly as fun as the first. Portal 2 is a unique game much in the same way as Portal. The only one downside is that I was expecting the campaign to be a lot longer. Instead, the game requires co-op play to get more fun out of it. When you play co-op, though, you play as two robots rather than as the female in the first Portal.

I would also have preferred a completely different character and a different approach to the Portal gun. I was hoping to see more than the test facility, but that's where we're still stuck.

  • Sound: 9/10
  • Graphics: 8/10
  • Gameplay: 7/10
  • Story: 9/10
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 9/10
  • Bang-to-buck: 5/10
  • Play Value: $30 (if you like puzzle games, worth buying)
  • Overall: 8.5/10 (a good follow up to Portal)

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