Home Entertainment & Technology Resource

  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Portal 2

Prepare to scratch your head and laugh your socks off all at once

by Stephen Carter May 23, 2011


Gaming review

11

SRP: £39.99
The gaming world has seen somewhat of a slump of late, what with Sony’s servers being hacked and the post-Christmas rush leaving many gamers gasping for one or more games to re-ignite their passion for gaming. But fortunately we can rely on developers like Valve to come to our rescue with titles such as Portal 2.

It’s not often that gamers are rewarded with a package that sums up the term, “Value for money” yet Valve delivered exactly that with their first outing on current generation platforms. No quicker had The Orange Box been released, nearly all who purchased, instantly fell in love with it, be it because they could relive Half-Life on console or because it was their first experience with the series. One main attraction to the series is the fact that it has never been focussed on being the best looking around but simply one of the best action/adventure games around.

One thing for certain is that people were impressed with its quality and quantity though, in effect, offering five games on one disc; All three recent Half-Life episodes, Team Fortress online and finally the experimental Portal. Initially, Portal was seen as nothing more than an add-on to give players a distraction from the main games on the disc but after word had spread, it received critical acclaim across the board with players instantly begging for more.

With demand clearly there, Valve announced a sequel would find its way on consoles as a stand-alone release. A risky move some thought, as many believed it would be nothing more than an Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) or PlayStation Network (PSN) release. With much focus, anticipation and desire for Portal 2, will Valve rue the decision to not release digitally?

Although not aiming to be the best looking around, Valve have clearly spruced the graphics up in Portal 2 giving more life to the potentially dull environment you find yourself in. Their typical cartoon-style is present as ever, yet textures have added detail to give the game realism which contributes to the charm of the Portal series. A recurring theme throughout is the limited number of menus that you will have to navigate within the title, the only ones evident are the main menu and the pause-menu.

Whilst in relatively small quantity, the sounds throughout the game complement one another and never overpower each other. There are no massive explosions to pierce your eardrums, nor are there any roaring vehicles to rattle the windows. Instead you are treated to ‘futuristic’ effects such as the opening and closing of portals, the sound of you bouncing or zipping off of goo and laser beams hum as they fire across the challenge room.

A major bonus for Portal 2 is the excellent script and voice acting for all the characters involved, especially GLaDOS and Wheatley who make regular appearances throughout the single player campaign. Voiced by Stephen Merchant (star of The Office and voice of the recent Barclays adverts), Wheatley will make you smile every time he engages you in one-way conversation as he rattles off several anecdotes and puns. 

The premise for Portal 2 is simple; once again you find yourself trapped within a series of puzzles and challenges, dictated to you periodically by Wheatley and GLaDOS. The latter being the masterminding robot that you destroyed in the first game, but when Wheatley accidentally reboots her systems you find yourself at her mercy, once again putting you through a series of taxing tests.

New features are introduced to you over time as you progress through different stages of the derelict factory, all of which keep you engaged and make you want to keep playing through. This was the main worry for many, as they predicted that Portal 2 would be very similar to the first outing and not be a full step forward in the series, but that’s not the case. Making test chambers exciting and mind-bending at the same time, you come across orange gel that propels you, blue gel that enables you to bounce off of it and white gel that covers non-portal walls to allow portals to be placed.

It would be very easy for Portal 2 to become boring or repetitive, but it doesn’t. There’s always something in each chamber to keep you engaged, be it the witty banter from GLaDOS, or you perversely messing around with the laws of physics by altering portals’ direction and placement. Doing this is a joy as you never feel like you’re battling with the controls to keep yourself in the desired direction of travel, all aspects of character control feels easy and intuitive.

Whilst the single player campaign could appear short to some if they storm through it, to many it will not outstay its welcome nor sell itself too short. If you stop and think puzzles through, listen to most of the dialogue and generally explore the factory you could find the campaign lasting for around 8 hours. Some will also find themselves repeating many of the puzzles as they are so well thought out, it gives you enjoyment in completing it for a second time.

A totally new feature for the Portal franchise is the local, or online co-op mode in which you play a completely separate story to the single player, and this will take around the same time to complete. Although all protagonists are mute throughout, you can’t help but become attached to the robots P-Body and Atlas, who you play as throughout co-op play. This will push you on to complete the game to see how each character’s story ends, giving Portal 2 huge amounts of longevity if you have people to play with.

Like in many modern games, there are also ‘Easter eggs’ and secrets to find throughout the campaign, avatar awards to unlock and may special achievements to acquire by meeting certain objectives in the test chambers. 

Those who are overly critical of their games would slate Portal 2 for being too similar to the original and being more of the same as opposed to anything new or fresh. But they would be wrong; this is an essential title in the series in its own right with new features and a brilliant story to go along with it. It could be suggested that paying the full £40 is a bit steep but there’s one thing for certain; no matter how much you pay, you will find yourself laughing every time you play through it. 

Conclusion

10
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

Portal 2

  • Brilliant story
  • Great mechanics
  • Environment full of life

Portal 1.5

  • Doesn't have the same magic as before
  • A bit repetitive in places

I own this 0
I want this 0
I had this 0

Portal 2

Valve once again show their strength and prowess as a developer with a title that sings credit to the games industry as a whole. Providing gamers with a good balance of platforming, puzzle elements and an excellent script, Portal 2 is a game that does not deserve to be missed. Overcoming possible issues with its repetitive nature and simplicity, Valve show that they can provide games that fully deserve a full retail price tag.


The Rundown

Gameplay

10

Story

10

Graphics

10

Audio

10

Single Player

10

Multiplayer

8

Longevity

8

Overall

10

Our Review Ethos

Read about our review ethos and the meaning of our review badges here.


    1. Mark Botwright

      Mark Botwright Moderator & Reviewer Staff Member

      Joined:
      Nov 3, 2006
      Messages:
      7,963
      Trophy Points:
      136
      Ratings:
      +1,251
      Reviewed by Ste Carter

      [​IMG]

      Developer: Valve Corporation
      Publisher: Valve Corporation
      Format: Xbox 360 (Also available on PC and PS3)
      Rating: 12 (PEGI)
      Release Date: Out Now

      Synopsis

      The gaming world has seen somewhat of a slump of late, what with Sony’s servers being hacked and the post-Christmas rush leaving many gamers gasping for one or more games to re-ignite their passion for gaming. But fortunately we can rely on developers like Valve to come to our rescue with titles such as Portal 2.

      It’s not often that gamers are rewarded with a package that sums up the term, “Value for money” yet Valve delivered exactly that with their first outing on current generation platforms. No quicker had The Orange Box been released, nearly all who purchased, instantly fell in love with it, be it because they could relive Half-Life on console or because it was their first experience with the series. One main attraction to the series is the fact that it has never been focussed on being the best looking around but simply one of the best action/adventure games around.

      One thing for certain is that people were impressed with its quality and quantity though, in effect, offering five games on one disc; All three recent Half-Life episodes, Team Fortress online and finally the experimental Portal. Initially, Portal was seen as nothing more than an add-on to give players a distraction from the main games on the disc but after word had spread, it received critical acclaim across the board with players instantly begging for more.

      With demand clearly there, Valve announced a sequel would find its way on consoles as a stand-alone release. A risky move some thought, as many believed it would be nothing more than an Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) or PlayStation Network (PSN) release. With much focus, anticipation and desire for Portal 2, will Valve rue the decision to not release digitally?

      [​IMG]

      Presentation

      Although not aiming to be the best looking around, Valve have clearly spruced the graphics up in Portal 2 giving more life to the potentially dull environment you find yourself in. Their typical cartoon-style is present as ever, yet textures have added detail to give the game realism which contributes to the charm of the Portal series. A recurring theme throughout is the limited number of menus that you will have to navigate within the title, the only ones evident are the main menu and the pause-menu.

      Whilst in relatively small quantity, the sounds throughout the game complement one another and never overpower each other. There are no massive explosions to pierce your eardrums, nor are there any roaring vehicles to rattle the windows. Instead you are treated to ‘futuristic’ effects such as the opening and closing of portals, the sound of you bouncing or zipping off of goo and laser beams hum as they fire across the challenge room.

      A major bonus for Portal 2 is the excellent script and voice acting for all the characters involved, especially GLaDOS and Wheatley who make regular appearances throughout the single player campaign. Voiced by Stephen Merchant (star of The Office and voice of the recent Barclays adverts), Wheatley will make you smile every time he engages you in one-way conversation as he rattles off several anecdotes and puns.

      [​IMG]

      Game Mechanics

      The premise for Portal 2 is simple; once again you find yourself trapped within a series of puzzles and challenges, dictated to you periodically by Wheatley and GLaDOS. The latter being the masterminding robot that you destroyed in the first game, but when Wheatley accidentally reboots her systems you find yourself at her mercy, once again putting you through a series of taxing tests.

      New features are introduced to you over time as you progress through different stages of the derelict factory, all of which keep you engaged and make you want to keep playing through. This was the main worry for many, as they predicted that Portal 2 would be very similar to the first outing and not be a full step forward in the series, but that’s not the case. Making test chambers exciting and mind-bending at the same time, you come across orange gel that propels you, blue gel that enables you to bounce off of it and white gel that covers non-portal walls to allow portals to be placed.

      It would be very easy for Portal 2 to become boring or repetitive, but it doesn’t. There’s always something in each chamber to keep you engaged, be it the witty banter from GLaDOS, or you perversely messing around with the laws of physics by altering portals’ direction and placement. Doing this is a joy as you never feel like you’re battling with the controls to keep yourself in the desired direction of travel, all aspects of character control feels easy and intuitive.

      [​IMG]

      Longevity

      Whilst the single player campaign could appear short to some if they storm through it, to many it will not outstay its welcome nor sell itself too short. If you stop and think puzzles through, listen to most of the dialogue and generally explore the factory you could find the campaign lasting for around 8 hours. Some will also find themselves repeating many of the puzzles as they are so well thought out, it gives you enjoyment in completing it for a second time.

      A totally new feature for the Portal franchise is the local, or online co-op mode in which you play a completely separate story to the single player, and this will take around the same time to complete. Although all protagonists are mute throughout, you can’t help but become attached to the robots P-Body and Atlas, who you play as throughout co-op play. This will push you on to complete the game to see how each character’s story ends, giving Portal 2 huge amounts of longevity if you have people to play with.

      Like in many modern games, there are also ‘Easter eggs’ and secrets to find throughout the campaign, avatar awards to unlock and may special achievements to acquire by meeting certain objectives in the test chambers.

      Final Thoughts

      Those who are overly critical of their games would slate Portal 2 for being too similar to the original and being more of the same as opposed to anything new or fresh. But they would be wrong; this is an essential title in the series in its own right with new features and a brilliant story to go along with it. It could be suggested that paying the full £40 is a bit steep but there’s one thing for certain; no matter how much you pay, you will find yourself laughing every time you play through it.

      Portal 2

      +Brilliant Story
      +Great Mechanics
      +Environment Full of Life



      Portal 1.5

      -Doesn’t have the same magic as first time round
      -A bit repetitive in places
    2. Ben Ingber

      Ben Ingber Member

      Joined:
      Nov 5, 2010
      Messages:
      1,124
      Trophy Points:
      66
      Ratings:
      +244
      It's a bloody triumph, is what it is! Great review, Ste.
      • Thanks Thanks x 1
    3. Droogie 2001

      Droogie 2001 Member

      Joined:
      Aug 19, 2001
      Messages:
      1,390
      Trophy Points:
      51
      Ratings:
      +70
      Nice review Mabo.

      I thought I would give my thoughts if ok as I finished it last night :clap:

      I have to start by saying that the game exceeded my already high expectations.
      Not quite sure how long it took to complete as I played it in short 30-60 minute chunks but probably around 9-10 hours.
      I got stuck a few times but overall I found it less difficult and frustrating then Portal. Don’t get me wrong I loved Portal but it was quite a bit harder than Portal 2 and in some areas required shear dexterity and skill to complete levels.
      Portal 2 had a few situations where timing and aiming played a part but it was not over used as a cheap way of making the levels more challenging.
      In essence it was the great level design that kept me coming back at no time did I feel that I cannot be bothered to finish the game because I was simply stuck.
      Not sure if anyone else found this but if I really got stuck I would leave it and come back the next day. As soon as I started the next day I would often solve it within literally minutes! It’s weird how your brain does that?! I even worked out how to solve a puzzle on the way to driving to work!
      Story was great though I was a tiny bit disappointed at the end. For some reason I had this vision of a different ending relating to one of their other game series….
      Still I have the Co-Op to go as well as some extra achievements and of course the free DLC.
      Easily a contender for the Game of the Year for me.
    4. Stephen Carter

      Stephen Carter AVF Games Reviewer

      Joined:
      Sep 28, 2009
      Messages:
      3,610
      Trophy Points:
      106
      Ratings:
      +416
      There goes Mark taking credit for all my hard work again haha :rolleyes:;)

      But yes, this game cant receive enough credit in my opinion for what it has achieved and its contribution to the gaming world.

      Must agree with you though, some puzzles initially appear mind bending but on reflection, they are very easy to complete which imho adds to its charm and credit.

      EDIT: Just seen a spelling error on my part towards the end of the review, it should say 'many' as opposed to 'may' :)
      Last edited: May 26, 2011
    5. Droogie 2001

      Droogie 2001 Member

      Joined:
      Aug 19, 2001
      Messages:
      1,390
      Trophy Points:
      51
      Ratings:
      +70
      Sorry Carter91 I now realise you wrote the review and Mabo just created the thread. Sorry about that!
      :blush:
      • Thanks Thanks x 1
    6. Stephen Carter

      Stephen Carter AVF Games Reviewer

      Joined:
      Sep 28, 2009
      Messages:
      3,610
      Trophy Points:
      106
      Ratings:
      +416
      No worries buddy, if possible can i just get some feedback from you based on this and other reviews??
    7. Kayla99

      Kayla99 Member

      Joined:
      Apr 29, 2011
      Messages:
      53
      Trophy Points:
      9
      Ratings:
      +0
      I know its early but this game could very possibly be goty in my opinion.
    8. Stephen Carter

      Stephen Carter AVF Games Reviewer

      Joined:
      Sep 28, 2009
      Messages:
      3,610
      Trophy Points:
      106
      Ratings:
      +416
      Definitely, this and inFamous 2 have been the best games of this year so far. Not bad considering we have so long to go in the year what with COD, Oblivion and much more coming.
    9. Ben Ingber

      Ben Ingber Member

      Joined:
      Nov 5, 2010
      Messages:
      1,124
      Trophy Points:
      66
      Ratings:
      +244
      I totally agree - and I'm usually the first person to moan about '[whatever] of the year' being called early.

      In any case, it's definitely the must-play game of the year to date.
    10. Stephen Carter

      Stephen Carter AVF Games Reviewer

      Joined:
      Sep 28, 2009
      Messages:
      3,610
      Trophy Points:
      106
      Ratings:
      +416
      Thought GOTY had been stitched with Nazi wolves in Space already????

      Haha seriously though this is one game that i thoroughly enjoyed playing, and when you think of all the negative comments games recieve for condoning violence etc, the critics need to be pointed in the direction of titles like this.
    11. Ben Ingber

      Ben Ingber Member

      Joined:
      Nov 5, 2010
      Messages:
      1,124
      Trophy Points:
      66
      Ratings:
      +244
      Hahaha, I'm going to write that one up for next April 1.
      • Thanks Thanks x 1
  • Production

    Developer Valve Corporation
    Publisher Valve Corporation
    Also On Xbox 360
    PC
    PS3
    Suggested Retail Price 39.99
    Release Date 21st April 2011
    PEGI Rating 12
    Maximum Number of Players 1~2
    Has Multiplayer Yes
    Genre Platform
    Puzzle
  • Loading