As I said in my Quick Review of Portal this game series is amazing and you should buy it. Okay with that done let’s all have some cookies and go outside and enjoy the sunshine. What? You want more? Ok, if you like puzzle games or games with great story and characters then this game is for you. If you want to know even more read on for my Single-Player Review…
Portal 2 takes place 50 years after the original (the time difference is explained in an online comic (it’s free!). You are back inside Aperture Science Enrichment Center and you wake up with the entire structure falling to pieces around you. Wheatly, the robot caretaker, helps you escape the part of the building that you are in and you eventually run through some familiar rooms and then inadvertently reactivate your old pal GLaDOS (I’m not spoiling anything, it happens quite early and you had to see it coming). GLaDOS is ready to do more testing and possibly get some revenge on you for your last meeting. She slowly starts to rebuild the lab while you pass through test chamber after test chamber.
At one point you’ll even find yourself in the super lowest levels of the Aperture Science Enrichment Center and the voice of Cave Johnson echos from the speakers. Cave’s voice is a recording and you learn quite a bit about how certain parts of how Aperture Science was created as you move your way back up to the upper floors of the Center.
The story is much more compelling than Portal and with the couple extra characters it adds so much more feeling to the game. Along with the history of Aperture you get to know GLaDOS more. As with the previous game, everything unfolds while you’re in the middle of test chambers. The story gets an A+ from me. (Also to note, you don’t have to play the first game to play this one, but it is recommended). Oh and to add, the ending to this game is epic.
The game is pretty, very pretty. The first Portal was very nice but watching Aperture get ripped apart and put back together is gorgeous. At times I feel like it can take away from the game’s beauty, but it adds an awesome dynamic. As I always say, graphics to me are all about how the visual style fits with the game. In the case of Portal 2 it all fits, everything looks clean when it should (white walls glisten) and dirty and degraded when it should(walls hanging by hinges). Overall the graphics are a win!
Again the voice work in this game is amazing. GLaDOS is back to her old self and the addition of Whealty and Cave Johnson just add to the fun. Cave is voiced by everyone’s favorite M&M J.K. Simmons and he pulls off his job to perfection.
The sound effects are clean and limited (meaning they work great). Valve makes sure that every sound fits and sounds great. The music melds with the test and some of the actions you’re going through in the tests.
The sound in this game gets most of its props form the fantastic voice work (which could have been the entire game and I still would have enjoyed it (Once again as Tony said, everything is quotable)).
Now what you’ve been waiting for, what’s new in the sequel to such a great game like Portal? Surprisingly quite a bit. With the first games success a lot of companies would have turned out some new test chambers and called it a new game, but Valve has gone above and beyond. Yes weighted cubes and pressure panels are back along with their good friends the turrets, but Valve has included a slew of new Aperture inventions, new and old. Light Bridges (pictured above), floating tunnels made of energy that push you in whatever directions they are traveling, not to mention the gels (pictured below). The gels are old experiments in the super basement of Aperture and they look gorgeous and are super fun to play with. I don’t want to spoil too much in case you are one of the two people who haven’t played this game. You still have the trusty dual portal gun and you still have to make it from room to room, but the new features (and story) keep it fresh and fun. The new features also add some length to the game, making the game quite a bit longer than Portal, but still somewhat short (it doesn’t feel short but it can be beat in about 6 hours if you know what you’re doing).
When I say it doesn’t feel short, I mean that you won’t feel cheated by the amount of time played. Plus there is DLC coming out soon and Co-op (which I have yet to play and thus it isn’t included in this review).
The test chambers range in difficulty, but you never feel frustrated by them, just a strong urge to finish it and continue your attempted escape from Aperture. The other bonus to the test chambers is even the easy ones leave you feeling like a champ after completing them.
The gameplay is great and stays fresh all the way through, which is an amazing feat and just shows how great a developer Valve is.
Is Portal 2 better than Portal? Yes and No. I say “No” because Portal had originality on it’s side. It was new, it was different, it was amazing. I say “Yes” because they took all the amazing parts from the first part and improved upon them. The care and detail that went into this game shows and you can tell that Valve didn’t want to mess with a good thing (Like I said, they know what they are doing). Portal 2 does what a good sequel should, know what made the first one good and keep it fresh and exciting.
To quickly run through the review again, the graphics are stellar and the controls are tight. Voice work is over and above what I was expecting. The story is amazing and you’ll probably want to play through a couple times to catch all the jokes that you might have missed (plus to get those pesky achievements).
If you’re still unsure I can suggest a simple and cheap solution. Play Portal, it’s $10 on Steam. If you like/love/marry it then you’ll want to play the second game; if on the other hand you hate Portal then you’ll probably want to avoid the sequel. If you haven’t played either but know you’ll love it, then you can get both games for $55 dollars.