Friday, April 22, 2011

Portal 2

Ok, so, I had such big fucking plans and then I got held back by work and classes and other boring and unimportant shit, but now I'm back to the stuff that really matters, that's right, video games!

Now, I would like to point out that I said I was going to review a number of games after my reviews of BioShock and BioShock 2 *shudder*. But recently a game *cough* Portal 2, came out and I think I would be remiss if I didn't talk about that, seeing as how I finished it yesterday.

Ok, now, Portal, in case you're not familiar with it, then I would recommend that you find a crowbar to pry up that fucking rock you live under to get out and try it. But until you have played it, STOP READING BECAUSE I WILL LIKELY RUIN THE WHOLE FUCKING GAME FOR YOU...WHY ARE YOU STILL READING? WHY? YA KNOW WHAT, FINE! FUCK YOU TOO! NOW YOU DESERVE TO HAVE THE GAME RUINED FOR YOU! ASSHOLE!

Ok, so Portal was this puzzle platformer game that made you use your mind to accurately place portals and use physics to get to certain places or to achieve certain tasks like using a box to press a button that's on a platform that you can't get to. The game was an instant hit and will probably be known as a cult classic for many years to come. It originally came from a set of games featured in a package called "the orange box", this was a groundbreaking thing as the orange box was the first time you could get 5 games for less than the cost of one feature length game. The big attraction seemed to be Half Life 2 and its two following episodes but Portal was the instant breakout and was a favorite by fans and non-fans of the Half Life series alike.

In Portal they managed to combine dark humor with puzzles, which didn't make me complain one bit and that might come as somewhat of a shock, considering the fact that I'm such an amazingly cheery bastard. The game gave you a feeling of isolation as it is very clear that no one is watching you perform these tests other than the computer AI which has a cryptic foreboding in its inflections. In the end you end the AI's life and blow up the facility saving yourself from being killed by the same AI.

Portal 2 begins after an unknown amount of time has passed and you have been put right back into isolation again following the events of the first game. You'll be happy to know that the game hasn't lost any of its wit, and in fact has become even more witty, however the wit is no longer truly centered around GlaDOS, the AI computer that you destroyed but is more so centered around your new computer partner named Wheatley, who is voice by Stephen Merchant. Wheatley is the plucky side kick who is also the brunt of the majority of jokes. I won't ruin the plot twists for you but suffice to say that you and Wheatley are trying to escape the Aperture science labs that have held you captive for both this game and the last. 

During the story you'll encounter old test chambers, new ones and even some new substances like the "repel gel" which allows you to jump higher pending on your height. These add complexity to the puzzles and the number of challenges you face. Right off I will answer two questions you have, yes, I am single and no I am not interested in dating you, weren't interested in those questions, well, you must mean the other two, less popular questions.Yes, the game is substantially longer this time around, Portal originally was about 3 hours long on your first run, Portal 2 clocks in about 10-12 hours on your first run through and yes, it's also more challenging. But don't be discouraged, Portal and Portal 2 manage to be just challenging enough to be interesting and fun without being overly frustrating...that is, unless you have a particularly short fuse...GODDAMNIT!...sorry...

Portal 2 also allows you to see Aperture's history and how it was created, about midgame you stumble upon the initial labs that, by the looks of them, were created circa the 1960s. During scouting these areas you encounter the voice of Cave Johnson(voiced by J.K. Simmons, a comedy hero of mine), the hilariously honest and eccentric creator of the Aperture science labs who is prerecorded and playing over the loud speaker.

Near the end of the game there is a nice twist and the ending is satisfying...and hilarious. Portal 2's ending closes in a nice way by return and if you play it you'll see what I mean. But the ending almost assures you that this series is done, Portal 3 will not be made and to be honest, I'm glad, but more on that in a minute.

Portal 2 looks similar but different from Portal, there is more detail and the graphics are better but it will be a little jarring for old players, who think they are going to venture into the same Aperture. Its also worth noting that the gameplay doesn't take place entirely in the science labs this time, there is some outer world exploring but I assure you that its just as fun! With the look changed, the feel of the labs changes too, this doesn't feel like the old labs where you were alone, not because they have changed the setting as such, but you spend a lot more time in the backdrops seeing how things are made, plus the mood for most of the game is to see if you can get from point A to point B, whereas in the first game you could only complete the tasks given to you and hope you were headed somewhere. This time around you know the score and that the only way to survive is to escape the labs and the testing, and this changes the feel of the game. This isn't to say that its bad, just different, and it's good that it feels different, that's what a good sequel does, if you felt like you were playing the same game then it would feel like a waste of your fucking time and money eh?

Just like Portal, you'll want to replay this game again and again, I want to go play it right now, but I'm stuck writing this for you all...and who says I don't love you???

Finally, I love ice cream! While this might seem like an irrelevant point, allow me to tie it in. Ice cream is great and I love to eat it and put it on things and its amazing, but I eat it rarely. See the thing is, its special because I have it rarely so I have to enjoy it when I have it, like Portal. See the thing is, if Valve makes too many of these Portal games it will probably end, at least for me, the same way having too much ice cream would, usually leaning over the toilet wondering why such a good thing was overdone and of course vomiting followed by a genuine distaste for the product after, which would be tragic because these games are so good! In fact, I'm going to call it right now, Portal 2 is not only better than Portal, but it is probably the best game this year, it will probably WIN game of the year assuming Mass Effect 3 doesn't come out. Hell, even if it does, it will need to be a hell of a game to beat Portal 2! If you haven't yet, buy this game, its worth it, you'll love it, just like ice cream!