Portal 2 is, as the name would suggest, a sequel to Portal, part of The Orange Box, which was released in 2007 and also included the superb sequel, Half Life 2 Episode Two (which also leaves us still wondering when Episode Three will be released.
Anyway, the basics of this title are that it’s a very clever puzzle-fest in which you must move through the portal to get access to necessary parts of the set in order to progress. After a short time you’ll get a portal gun to point out from where you’ll exit to, and then later on you’ll upgrade to a device that can pinpoint both the start and exit points and it becomes a really fantastic mindfuck!
Whereas the first game only had around three hours of gameplay, this one reportedly has between 10-15 hours, although I’m still working my way through it, and as I do I’ll be uploading more footage from the game, but at the time of writing, I’ve made it to the end of chapter 2. It gets more tricky as you proceed, but that’s when things start to get even more interesting.
As the sequel begins, you awake in what looks like a very pleasant hotel room, but after a couple of brief physical exercises, it’s time for sleep again. When you wake next, the room is somewhat dilapidated. What exactly has happened and how long have you been under? There’s a knock at the door, but it’s a… well, it’s not human. It’s a personality core called Wheatley (voiced by Stephen Merchant, who’s slightly annoying following a recent banking advert) who tells you that after something went wrong, you’re one of 10,000 test subjects who’s been under sedation for far longer than you’ll ever know. It soon becomes apparent that Aperture Science Laboratories has deteriorated beyond repair but you have no option but to traverse from level to level.
You soon come across GLaDOS (again voiced by Ellen McLain), though – after all, there wouldn’t be a Portal game without her – but she’s pissed off with you for having killed her in the last game and the place has gone to rack and ruin without her fine touch, so everything looks and sounds rather eerie and in pieces.
The game contains very trippy audio, which sounds like it’s come out of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, circa 1981 for The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and the graphics are as sharp as before and interact without a hitch. The gaming footage is a testament to this.
Now while the autosave feature can be a great plus for a title like this, there are times where it can become a complete pain in the arse. It only saves two or three positions in total and when I wanted to go back and replay a whole level to record the footage after practicing, I couldn’t because there was no save for the start of the level! Luckily, I’d manually saved during the level before, but otherwise I’d have been stuffed.
By all means have an auto-save within a level, but there should still be an option to start any single level completed so far. A little bit of thought with many more game save slots allowed could’ve avoided this.
I do have one gaming-related annoyance with this sequel, though, which is that while you really had to think about where you were going in the first game, here, many of the levels contain only a handful of specific walls where you can place a portal with the rest being impossible to use, thus it soon becomes clear roughly where you’re meant to place one, which rather defeats the object and loses this game a couple of enjoyment points. It’s still a worthy purchase, however.
Overall, this is best shown off by just watching the game footage. It’s more Portal. You loved the first one. You know you want this one. Buy it. That’s all.
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- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Price: £49.99 (Xbox 360, PS3); £34.99 (PC)
- Players: 1-2, co-op: 2, system link: 2, online multiplayer: 2
- HDTV options: 720p/1080i/1080p
- Features: voice
SOUND EFFECTS AND MUSIC
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.