Now you’re thinking with Portals too.

If Chatroulette has taught us anything, it is that if a Portal Gun ever existed, people would – almost immediately – use it to show other people their cocks. You’d be sitting there, reading the paper in a comfortable armchair and BAMMF, there’d be a flash of light from across the street and orange ring would appear on your wall, opposite the window. You’d look across the street and see your neighbour create a blue portal on his wall and wham! His wang is hanging off your wall. Portal guns would be worse than actual guns.

Good job then Portal only ever has one silent woman and no other horny idiots around.

I finished playing Portal 2 and it makes me ravenously hungry for Half-Life 2.3, a game which the various Gordon Freeman controllers of the world have been waiting for since 2007. Seriously 4 years, scarcely a peep, quiet as one of their protagonists. Playing it reminded me how much fun the Source engine that they used on Half Life 2 is… in particular its ability to make it always seem like it is early evening; which if you think about it is weird, but if you don’t think about it is pretty cool. Portal 2 was written for Source and really the quality of graphics is great. You know those games where you turn around quickly and the scenery is still rendering? Portal 2 isn’t one of them – you may be hurtling along at terminal velocity, but there aren’t any skipped polygons. I don’t think I noticed a glitch in the entire game, which is either a testament to their programming or a testament to their pacing. I find myself hoping that the Portal Gun makes an appearance in HL-2.3, because the Gravity gun was already so much fun to dick around with… for science! You already take the Portal Gun out of the lab setting in P2, so I don’t see why not.

So I prepped for Portal 2 by replaying Portal again, whipping through that in a few hours and now I’m decompressing with Half Life 2, marvelling at the quality of product that Valve puts out. Bulletstorm kind of lost me after the bajillionth dick joke, it was fine, it just wasn’t that rewarding. Bulletstorm joins Arkham Asylum in the list of games I should probably get on with finishing, but can’t bring myself to do so.

Anyway Portal 2, reviewed without spoilers, hopefully:

Totally great. A larger feeling, longer playing Portal game. They’ll never be able to capture the surprise of the original game; you’ll never be as delighted the first time you heard “This was a triumph… I’m making a note here: huge success” when you were only expecting interminable credits. But they do a great job of keeping the humour, adding new features and progressing the franchise’s story in two separate speeds.

To explain that last: there are two stories going on in Portal 2. The first story is that you are trapped (again) in Aperture Science’s test facility and must escape despite the machinations of a megalomaniacal computer personality. It is a much longer game, because as well as having to escape from the Enrichment Centers, you have to escape from the abandoned salt mine in which Aperture Science is apparently housed. You start, escape each area, you have a boss fight and the game has a delightful and satisfying ending. That is the story that everyone who sees the game through to completion will see and they’ll have a great time doing it.

At the same time, a largely unobtrusive background is created and that is the second story. Paying attention to the second story is mildly rewarding in the same way that Bioshock’s background was mildly rewarding – ooh, chart the downfall of a man’s utopia – and at first seems to give only background if you care to pay attention to it or go looking for it. If you continue to look for clues about the history, the second story is revealed and while it doesn’t change anything about the outcome of the game, it makes that delightful and satisfying ending FUCKING AWESOME.

There aren’t many spoilers one can post for Portal – there is no big shocking reveal and all the puzzles are solvable if you just test them out a few times and be careful to look around. That said, if you have even a faint interest in it, you should avoid the spoilers like the plague. It is well worth experiencing the story at the pace and scale they set.

You can whip through the game in… what, 10 hours if you take your sweet time? And by all accounts that I’ve read, Multiplayer is where the puzzle solving gets really fun.

6 Comments on “Now you’re thinking with Portals too.

  1. I just finished the single player off last night. The first part of the game where it still feels like the original is funny, but I was laughing my head off from the second act on.

    Once I actually finished it that’s when it kind of blew me away that the game really is an amazing feat of storytelling. I mean, it’s got a perfectly balanced and paced three-act structure, characters that actually develop as the plot moves, and fucking laser-focused comic timing. For something so linear there’s so many tiny little touches that make you feel involved in the story too, which is where the real genius of it is, I think.

    Loved it, loved it, loved it. I should buy a copy so we can play through the co-op.

  2. Some day I’ll have an XBox. Then I won’t have to get my Portal 2 experience via YouTube. 🙁

  3. Think how much you’ll save on food: You won’t have time to eat anything because you’ll be working through a backlog of great games that I can give you and Noe won’t be able to eat anything because of the appalling motion sickness she would definitely get watching you play Portal.

    No more grocery bills = XBox paying for itself.

  4. As sad as it may sound, I will likely never own an XBox 360. The reality is, I have too much technology that is begging to be replaced and $300 on a device that is strictly for entertainment is, at this point, a low priority.

    However, I do need a news Windows machine. You know, for work purposes. If it so happens to have a GPU that can handle the latest games, well, that’s purely incidental. Yup. Purely a coincidence…

  5. Ok. I’m starting to rethink the sentiment of that last comment. I realize that one of the first things I’m looking at while shopping for a new Windows machine is the Video Card. If it were just the bare-bones testing machine that I swore I was looking for, I could pick something up for around $150. But in pursuit of one that has a decent video card, that dollar amount keeps getting higher and higher.

    In other words, why the hell not buy a Xbox 360? It’s not like there aren’t about a years worth of games I could borrow from friends. Damn. I need to think on this.

  6. Yep. You can sell/regift any DVD player, get pretty great instant tv on netflix and as long as you stay away from expensive downloadable content (DON’T GET ROCK BAND) you won’t spend THAT much on games.

    PC games, man, going the way of the dinosaur.

    Bonus: All your information won’t be in Sony’s hands.