Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Gaming Review: Portal 2 (First-Person)

This past week I finished up the solo storyline of Portal 2, and I have been singing the praises of this humorous and challenging puzzle game ever since.

For those unfamiliar with the original Portal, it was introduced as a part of the video-game compilation pack, The Orange Box.  The story of both Portal 1 and 2 are quite similar in that you play as Chell, a mute(or just non-speaking) woman who has been trapped into rigorous psychological and physical testing at the defunct Aperture Laboratories by the supercomputer GLaDOS(Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System).  

Chell is armed with only two things: a pair of shock-resistant boots that protect her from falls and a portal gun.  The portal gun is an interesting piece of hardware.  The portal gun shoots out orange and blue portals on the white surfaces found in the building.  By shooting a blue portal in one space, and then an orange one in another space, Chell is able to travel through them to get around obstacles.
Here's an example because I know all that sounded crazy:
The tests are extremely addictive.
For the player and for GLaDOS.
Who is trying to kill you.
Because you apparently killed her at the end of Portal 1.

When this game starts you meet Wheatley, a small robot who is trying to help you escape from the facility.  The lab has endured years of decay while you were in stasis sleep.  Before Wheatley can get you out, you both find out that GLaDOS has survived, and is awaking with quite the grudge.

As the story-line weaves in and out, you learn more and more about how Aperture Science became this horrible place, and you learn more and more about Cave Johnson, its founder, and his assistant Caroline, who bears a strong, almost familial resemblance to GLaDOS.

The rating on this game was E, which I thought was fortunate because the puzzles could be fun for any age.  GLaDOS is hilarious, even as she insults and torments Chell.  There are also audiotapes playing of Cave Johnson that introduce you to his headstrong but funny personality as he drifts into madness.  Wheatley is an interesting and funny companion as well.  Even the turrets are funny! LOL

In the co-op mode you play as a robot with a robot companion.  I'm still playing that one but I'll add the review here when I do.  So far it seems just as engaging as the first-person.

Another added bonus: There is a complete graphic novel formatted e-book that delves into what has been going on during the time between Portal 1 and Portal 2.  The book, Lab Rat, can be found here.

Overall, Portal 2 was a visually stunning and highly competitive game.  I was impressed with the level of detail involved in the story, while the majority of play is done in silence.  For the game to have only three voice-actors, it could stand up to any full-cast feature.

Another cool treat at the end of both games is the singing done by GLaDOS, who is voiced by Ellen McClain, an opera singer.  Some wonderful person has YouTube'd the endings of both Portal games just to showcase the songs.  If you don't care much about it spoiling the end of the game for you, I've included it here to listen.


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