Round two of Chell V.S GLaDoS is better in every way possible.Portal 2 is one of those titles that cannot be simply labelled as a game. It is an experience, an interactive art form, a puzzler, a movie and a soap opera. It deals with classic themes such as friendship, betrayal and corruption but puts a contemporary spin on them.
Portal 2 is a character study as well, featuring some of the most interesting, funny and engaging writing that I have ever come across. That’s not just in the gaming medium either. For anyone who wishes for a game that is so much more than a game, to be thrilled and moved at the same time, Valve’s first person puzzler is a must buy.
Despite running on Source engine which is at this stage 8 years old, Portal 2 looks absolutely beautiful. It’s environments slowly degrading from industrial to natural provides a beautiful contrast that was absent in the last game. Flora and fauna are growing through the cracks and adding lifelike movement to the sterile testing facilities. However these facilities are no longer still themselves.
As GLaDoS works tirelessly to maintain and repair the building around you, you will see tiles being shot back into place, platforms constructed in front of you. Occasionally you catch glimpses of the maintenance areas behind the test labs and eventually you’re thrown down to the lower levels entirely.The dirty, corrugated metals and industrial feel of the underground feels completely different from the upper levels. Once again this contrast helps bring the world of Portal to life.
There are three gels that add spice to puzzles, the propulsion gel, the repulsion gel and the ever useful conversion gel. These gloopy liquids are wonderfully animated, and their natural flow adds a sense of life to otherwise abandoned stages. Holographic bridges, turrets and your faithful companion Wheatley are all done to a high standard. Wheatly in particular manages to display a staggering range of emotions, despite being basically a floating, robotic eyeball.
Each puzzle in Portal 2 is unique, stylish and at just the right difficulty. The portal gun is the most inventive weapon there is outside the Ratchet & Clank series, and is used in a whole lot of ways. Accessing hard to reach platforms, catapulting objects (including yourself,) and redirecting lasers and bridges can all be achieved with the device. This allows the test labs to appear simple, but soar in complexity limited only by you imagination.
The aforementioned gels, holo – bridges and turrets bring even more depth to the game play than the original did. By focusing on one particular tool or a range of them, each level presents a different challenge that will test your brainpower and/or timing. All this leads to some of the best puzzle – based game play on the market.
Despite featuring a mute main character and only three voiced inhabitants of the game, Portal 2 creates a thrilling story that, while a bit dragged out in the center, is very strong and finishes on a high (literally)! While your companion and opponent are both robots, and the other voice in the game is pre – recorded intercom messages, Portal 2’s story is surprisingly human. Wheatley is a very emotional little ball, who is of a weak – minded nature, and screws up a lot.
GLaDoS is of the highest tier regarding villains. She will mock you, taunt you, make disparaging comments about your weight and generally try to kill you. She is entertaining, complex and very funny. She effectively is Portal 2, a far more engaging character than the player. You won’t forget her or her final scene for a long time.
Portal 2 is a deep, thought provoking and utterly hilarious title that no one in their right mind should pass up. It’s as close to perfect that I’ve experienced in a long time. Buy this game. Naow!
GAME PLAY: 9/10
Overall: 28 / 30 (Stunning).