Sequel to the acclaimed Portal (2007), Portal 2 pits the protagonist of the original game, Chell, and her new robot friend, Wheatley, against more puzzles conceived by GLaDOS, an A.I. with the sole purpose of testing the Portal Gun's mechanics and taking revenge on Chell for the events of Portal. As a result of several interactions and revelations, Chell once again pushes to escape Aperture Science Labs.
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there definitely exists an ambient difference between portal and its sequel: while the first game demonstrated pitch black humor set against a haunting, sterile environment, portal 2 feels considerably lighter hearted and goofy--even feel good, for some reason? this approach no doubt helped jettison the game into absurd popularity and success, and i don't blame valve either for not wishing to retread the same ground twice but, regardless, it's just not quite as enjoyable to physically be in aperture science this time around.
of course the writing is hilarious, sure, and absolutely memorable, but it's also kind of... well, let's just call it the best written marvel movie.
gameplay's also running on the whole "let's not retread the same ground twice" design philosophy as well, with less emphasis on physically going in and out portals and more on using said portals to manipulate other things to go in and out, and around and throughout and etc etc. i don't think it was a bad idea to do this, but it's funny that the levels are designed to such a point that their testers literally forgot they could even just walk through the damn portals, as one developer commentary node recalls. so in a sense, there's a bit less... magic to the whole ingenious simplicity of portal's concept overall. but hey, it's also really, really cool to play around with the varying gels and light bridges and cubes with turret limbs sticking out.
i think my favorite aspect of portal 2 is the sound and music design, where seemingly every object and "tool" emits some wavelength of noise, and many manipulate their sounds in response to player actions and proximity. the gentle humming of the lasers, the bouncy synths of the bouncy gel, the underwater obfuscation of the... uh... blue wind tunnel things--it's all really mesmerizing. the technical side is cool, too, their approach to rooms next to rooms that don't actually exist next to each other (another node explains further), and the gel physics are cool as hell. yeah, a lot of the game is cool as hell.
oh, there's also that whole cooperative aspect. i've played through it a dozen times with a dozen different people at this point and, yet, it's still just REALLY fun to experience with others, especially when you're playing with newcomers to the whole experience. hell, i'll probably be playing this game for another decade just to tag along with those who have somehow lived under a moonrock all this time.
so yeah. portal 1's short, sweet, and perfect. portal 2's much longer and has some sacrifices made with an overall different design philosophy, but it's pretty damn sweet too.
With Portal Valve didn't know they had a hit on their hands. With Portal 2 Valve was trying to manufacture a hit. Portal 2 is bigger, prettier, and louder then its prequel but it isn't better. For all the new mechanics added and being double the length of Portal 1, Portal 2 isn't harder then 1 nor is it even constantly harder then 1. There is about the same amount of advanced puzzles in both games with Portal 2 being a bot easier due to a lot of the chambers lacking significant white space. Portal 2 instead fills the time with excessive tutorial puzzles, long walkie talky sequences, and times where you just walk around an area looking for the one white space you can portal to. The pace of the game goes like basic movement and portal tutorial from 1, new mechanic tutorials with 2 advanced puzzles to tie it up, three gel tutorials in old aperture with 1 advanced puzzle tying it all together, and then a tractor beam tutorial puzzle set until the game finally lets a few of the mechanics combine.
Portal 2 tries unsuccessfully to ape Portal in other ways. Portal 1 was well known for being a funny a game so valve hired a famous to yuck it all up. Stephen Merchant does a fine stand up style performance but his ad-libbed, naturalistic British delivery does not fit the tone of evil science facility run by a mad AI at all. Frankly they left too much of his voice in leading to a disconnect between Wheatly's human voice and Glados and the core's very robotic ones. Even Glados has shifted from a genuine threat to wise cracking villain who simply wants to call Chel fat and ugly. Cave Johnson's lines reek of mythbusters-Bill Nye wannabe science nerd culture that was popular at the time. All his jokes are variations on "For Science!" with the farcical elements (mantis men) turning Aperture from a genuine threat to an absolute joke. Portal 1 was a game with a serious tone and some dark deadpan jokes that worked because they were in a dangerous context. In contrast Portal 2 is a slapstick farce with almost every line of dialog being another forced laugh.
When Portal 1 got big some of its jokes like the companion cube and cake became memes. In an attempt to replicate this Valve pushed a few jokes hard to force a meme. Before the game even launched they dropped the potato gag ARG before anyone even know about Glados potato. When the player reaches wheatly the phrase "The Part Where He Kills You" is repeated 4 times across dialog and text in the span of a minute. You can't force a meme and you can't force a great game. Certainly Valve was able to make a hit out of Portal 2 they gave gamers what they wanted: more obvious jokes, better graphics, more puzzles, and play tested the hell out of the game so even the most uninterested players could solve every puzzle with ease. In doing so Valve lost the magic of Portal 1. I don't want a Portal 3 its clear the Valve play testing method cannot consistently make good puzzle games, and I'm not if there is anyone on the team left who truly knew what made Portal special.
Extremely successful sequel to the original game, delivering on almost every front tenfold. Puzzles were more intricate, story was a lot better, challenges felt more challenging. Only complaint is that the game, again, could have been longer. But other than that, had no real issues. Well done Valve.
This review contains spoilers
If Portal was a masterpiece, then Portal 2 is a magnum opus. Great puzzles, great writing, and great atmosphere.
Every mechanic, every puzzle is integrated so smoothly that sometimes you won't even realize what hit you. It's the kind of game that will make you stop so many times just to think to yourself "Wow, that was clever." The kind of game where there's just a big dumb smile on your face as you listen to the characters talk and banter.
Some of the mid game levels drag = particularly ones from the Cave Johnson segment, maybe a product of the game being much longer than Portal 1, but Portal 2 more than makes up for it with how good everything else is. One for the books.
fuck u wheatley ): 3