5: Portal 2

Publisher: Valve
Developer: Valve
Year: 2011
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.

Wheatley

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.

Playing with a partner

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 RatingHigh.

Cruelty RatingMerciful. There are regular checkpoints that the game sends you back to if you kick the bucket.

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6 thoughts on “5: Portal 2

  1. The underground section did drag a little, but every time I made it up a new level I felt like I was progressing, so it wasn’t too bad. The thing that bothered me most about the game wasn’t the tedious sections, but the anachronism. How could they possibly have a portal gun at the same time they were using reel-to-reel computer systems and transistors? Over all though, the game is one of my favorites, and I expect to replay them every couple years for the rest of my life.

  2. Meh. I would rank Portal higher still. The gameplay was totally dumbed down. As a fan of the first more puzzle based game, I wasn’t looking to go on co-operative sequences, engage in banter with potato entities and go on pointless lunar expeditions just to advance the story.
    Then the mess of the story at the end… Maybe all can be forgiven after the third one comes out, but this one left me very unsatisfied.

  3. I think the review is spot on. I felt a lot of the puzzles consisted more of figuring out what one thing was possible, doing it, and then repeating until the level was complete. The various fluids introduced at the end were great, but introduced too slowly and too late.

    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.

    I wish I could find someone to play with. The single-player game was fun and all, but I feel like I’m missing another third or half of the game.

    • Maybe a third of the game? I don’t have time these days, but ask nibbish. He’s played through it, though it is fun to play with someone who is learning at the same time.

      • I have the 360 version, so if anyone is looking for someone to play through it on that platform, I’m totally game. I’ve gone through it a few times, I found just about as much fun playing through it the second and third passes.

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