Monday, August 12, 2013

August of Games: Day 12 - Portal 2

Reminder: I did a Let's Play video for VVVVVV in yesterday's post!

From the main menu or first scene, I believe. A very very early track in the game. I actively wanted to avoid Want You Gone, as it might be considered spoiler-y. I love it though. I don't like a lot of Jonathan Coulton's work, but combining it with the extraordinary GLaDOS voice has now produced two very good pieces of music.

Portal 2
Developer: Valve
Genre (Setting): Near-future, Sci-fi
Genre (Gameplay): First-person puzzle platformer (how's that for a mishmash of genres? If only it was part RPG, it would be all the bases)
What is this game: This is a sequel to a ground-breaking game about opening portals with your portal gun to navigae puzzle rooms and escape from captivity. In this game there's higher-caliber graphics, music, voice-acting (building on Ellen McLain's masterful performance in the first game and adding Stephen Merchant and J.K. Simmons), and puzzles. The environments are more varied and interesting, and the plot is significant in that there actually is one (as opposed to the first's excuse).
To sum it up: Portal was a small game that was used as an experiment in The Orange Box because they liked it, and it did extraordinarily well. And even given that huge legacy to live up to, Portal 2 shows up and reveals Portal to be the prototype it is. It's everything from the first one, but MORE of everything, and in a good way.

What's great about it: I've kinda already started up with explaining why I love it. It's everything is just plain GOOD. The voice acting and writing for all three of Wheatley, GLaDOS, and Cave Johnson just hits the ball so far out of the park, it's crazy. There IS a valid complaint that some of the puzzle solving in the substructure is a bit linear, but it's still a fun experience.
The character design has way more nuance than I ever realized, which was pointed out by this book on Video Game Art and its connections to classic art that I was reading this weekend, about how the cables that hold up GLaDOS do huge amounts to present a more intimidating figure compared to Wheatley's robotic posture.
The co-op is very fun as well, and gets significantly difficult because it's already a stretch to get your mind into thinking through the portals mechanic ("Now you're thinking with portals!"), so learning to think with two sets of portals at the same time is weird and interesting.
The additional mechanics they added over the original, such as light bridges, is a great way to innovate things but everything still feels right and captures that fantastic but oppressive feeling of the original.

How do I get it: Xbox 360, PS3, and Steam. Gamestop is listing 360 and PS3 as pre-owned only, but you can still get on Steam for only $20! The original is $10 on Steam as well.

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