Portal 2 Review

Platform: PS3/360/PC
Originally Reviewed: 2011

It’s difficult to write a review of Portal 2 without sounding cliché or using hyperbole. But then again it’s difficult to play Portal 2 without getting the feeling that the game is, quite simply, a work of genius. Valve have most certainly done it again and produced the perfect sequel to that most unexpected of joys found in the Orange Box.

Whether it has already been said or not, Portal 2 is unquestionably one of the funniest games ever made. The characters are all hilarious, the wit is sharp and the laughs just keep on coming. The dialogue is all presented in an unobtrusive way and the game follows the storytelling example set in the Half-Life series, where the story revolves around the player and events unfold seamlessly in front of your eyes as you move through the various tests.

The game takes place many years after the end of the original Portal game where we saw main character Chell being dragged away, having destroyed GLaDOS. We quickly learn that Chell has spent those many years in isolation in the Aperture Science Facility, but escape is imminent with the help of new character Wheatley, voiced magnificently by Stephen Merchant.

The game follows the same premise as the original, but there are several new locations and a huge amount of new elements to go along with the portals such as gels that affect the surfaces they touch, light bridges, and aerial faith plates among several more. The new elements keep everything feeling fresh, yet the familiar aspects of the previous game have also been wholly improved upon. The game’s perfect pacing means it never stagnates, always throws something new and brain-taxing at you and really shows that Valve know how to keep a game engrossing from start to finish.

As well the new gameplay features, Portal 2 has also added several new environments that help break up the generic test chamber formula of the first game. The facility has been in a state of disrepair without the previously destroyed GLaDOS and the start of the game shows chambers covered in overgrown plant life. Through the course of the game, the narrative ensures that Chell travels to a variety of different locations across the facility, encountering new characters like the brilliant Cave Johnson (voiced by J.K. Simmons), who adds a hilarious and different take on the GLaDOS-style voiceover routine.

It’s clear to see that so much time and thought has gone into every single element of the game. The script writing and level design is of almost unparalleled quality. Every joke is timed perfectly and never fails to hit the mark. Every test is ingeniously designed using the (still) amazing physics engine to be fiendishly taxing without ever being unfair. There are very few feelings more satisfying in gaming than solving a more difficult puzzle in Portal 2.

As well as boasting a phenomenally entertaining single player experience, Portal 2 also contains one of the most rewarding and enjoyable co-op experiences in some time. Portal 2 puts the co-operation in co-op. The game requires much more than your standard 2 player flanking and reviving. The co-op portion of the game is completely standalone from the single player element and puzzles require full cohesion to be completed.

Co-op here is all about communication and unity, with a lot of the puzzles requiring skilful execution of timing and precision. It’s a great experience to share with someone else, where two minds can click together to solve a puzzle, giving off a feeling of dual accomplishment. All the while, GLaDOS will slyly insult your co-op partner when only you can hear and vice versa. Co-op simply does not get any better or more perfectly designed than this.

Every game has its faults, but listing those in Portal 2 is extremely difficult. The graphics are merely good, not great, and despite a meaty 10+ hour single player and additional co-op mode, the game can feel short purely because you simply cannot get enough. It seems impossible to dislike a game that epitomises exactly what gamers want. The writing, pacing, level design, difficulty, and sense of challenge and reward are tuned to perfection. Portal 2 is such a marvellous and unique achievement that it should be experienced and celebrated by anyone who claims to love video games.

Alex Aldridge 

GRAPHICS

Better than the original and are more than adequate for the game’s needs, but the graphics are running off a rather dated engine which can show at times.

7/10

GAMEPLAY

Utterly unique, perfectly challenging and supremely rewarding. The pacing is superb and the new elements and different challenges mean the game is enjoyable throughout. Perfect.

10/10

STORY

A gripping and utterly hilarious story full of wit, sarcasm and the odd twist. Brilliant dialogue superbly voiced across the board and told in that totally distinctive and unobtrusive way that Valve have mastered so well.

9/10

REPLAYABILITY

A game as enjoyable and well designed as this deserves to be replayed. Shame there’s no advanced challenges but it’s near impossible to complain when there’s FREE single player and co-op DLC to come.

9/10

VALUE FOR MONEY AT

Anyone who claims to love video games simply has to play this game. There is no game series like Portal, and this sequel is the definitive experience. The very definition of a classic.

£40

OVERALL

The perfect sequel and a near perfect game. Funny, clever, engrossing and challenging – games rarely come as finely tuned as this. Not only one of the best games this generation, but one of the best games of all time. An utterly essential title – you need this game.

9.5/10

AMAZING

 

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