Thinking with portals

‘Portal 2’ a mind-bendingly difficult, fun game

Todd Miller Collegio Reporter

This week, Valve released its massively anticipated game, Portal 2 for the PC, Mac, XBox 360 and Playstation 2. Although the release date was pushed back from February to April, the final product did not disappoint.

Portal 2 offers more characters and dialogue, a more intricate plot, more complicated test chambers (the game’s term for levels) than the previous installment of Portal, and the sequel is roughly four times as long.
The graphics are breathtaking, even with my computer’s moderate video card. There wasn’t a time when I felt they were wanting. If things are shot or hit with a laser, the damage stays. If something gets dirty, it remains covered in filth, including the player character. If she is hit with one of the three physics-altering gels in the game, her field of vision is clouded with muck.
The writing more than matches the prequel. As soon as you wake her up, GLaDOS (the game’s villain) keeps up the same sarcastic and insulting tone she left off with at the end of Portal, if only a little less subtle. She seems to favor mentioning how Chell (the player character) is adopted, and also comments about her being fat. The other speaking characters don’t disappoint, either. Wheatley, a personality core the player meets at the beginning of the game, is spacey and a bit idiotic, and this remains constant and entertaining throughout the plot’s twists and turns. The recordings of Cave Johnson, founder of Aperture Science (an important organization in the game’s story), that play at points in the game go even beyond just being a character. As a player progresses through the chapter of the game that deals with Aperture Science’s history, his voice changes and degrades.
The game keeps its prequel in mind but improves on it vastly. Without spoiling much, the game keeps true to its “solve the test chambers and defeat the rogue AI” plot, but there’s so much more to it because of the additional characters. Along with everything that happens in real time, players also get to learn about the history of Aperture Science and GLaDOS as they try to make their escape from the bowels of the facility.
The game runs as smoothly as its predecessor, if not better. Controls are smooth and, at the right graphics setting for my computer, didn’t lag. I had pin-point accuracy over where I could move the character or create portals.
The puzzles and test chambers themselves are paced well. The game’s tutorial section is easy, featuring some of the destroyed test chambers from the first game. As one progresses through the game, the test chambers become progressively harder up until he reaches the almost mind-bendingly difficult puzzles near the end.
The game also features a two-player mode, which is the same length as the single-player mode, but with a different plot, test chambers and characters.
This is a five-star, must-buy game.

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