Platform: Windows; Macintosh; Playstation 3; Xbox 360
Review: It should be obvious to anyone that has played the Portal games that if I include this one on the list, the other one must be on it as well. So, yes, there goes the suspense for one of the final four spots. But now I can compare the two games.
For those not indoctrinated on the Portal world, it is a first-person platformer that is more or less a bunch of physics-based puzzles involving opening portals in multiple walls and jumping through them to transport. It’s on this list because the game is immersed in a deep plot and because it’s adventure-gamer friendly. It’s also on this list because it’s amazing.
While Portal was a short game that spent most of the time easing the player into the game mechanics, Portal 2 assumes you know what you’re doing and plunges you in right away. The continuity with the first game is a bit muddled, but easy to forgive, especially since the plot is engrossing from the get go. Also, instead of simply going through each level while being condescended to by the computer, you get a friend this time to tag along with you. After rescuing Wheatley, he guides you through the game all the while making you laugh at his mannerisms.
Portal 2 is also deeper, with a few plot twists and additional game mechanics to learn as you are inundated with the entire history of the portal gun. While the added game mechanics (mostly involving different liquids that change the properties of walls and floors) are welcomed, it is precisely the last half of the game where these are introduced that knocks this game all the way down to fifth on my list. This section goes on and on, and then goes on some more. There were times when I was so mentally exhausted I wanted to stop playing, which didn’t happen with the first game. Yes, it’s longer, but it also got just a wee bit tedious near the end.
That said, there are five games on this countdown I have rated a perfect 10 out of 10. What saves Portal 2 from a score of 9 are a pretty fantastic endgame and a separate 2-player game where you team up with a friend and play through a different, near indomitable course, learning even more game mechanics along the way.
If you liked Portal, there is no reason not to play the sequel. If you haven’t played either, and are interested, you must play the first game first.
Contemporary Rating: High.
Cruelty Rating: Merciful. There are regular checkpoints that the game sends you back to if you kick the bucket.