|Portal 2: The sequal review
||[Apr. 21st, 2011|08:18 pm]
Besides not remembering html and how to properly format and embed videos in lj any more. Let's do this Portal 2 Review.
I honestly wish i had been able to finish this game in one sitting but instead had to drag it out over 3 days. To make matters worse, portal 2 feels a little dragged out in some places.
Portal is so much a series unlike any other game before it, that it's very hard to draw parallels and critiques to compare it to other games. So the other game i'm going to have to use in this instance, is the first portal.
First some facts about both.
Portal 1 was included in the Half life ORANGE BOX with Half life episode 2 + 1, and team fortress 2. It was thought that portal wouldn't be able to stand on it's own because of how short it was (90min - 3 hours pending on skill). The game turned out to be the break out hit of valve and quickly spread like wild fire through the gaming community. Since then it has been available for purchase stand alone around 10 dollars, except for the few times that valve has just decided to give away the game for free. (I currently have a free copy of portal i can gift to someone if they've never played it before.) So basically this game was available to everyone.
Portal 2 was a standalone title at launch, is available currently for PC for 50$ (for console i have no clue cause fuck those guys). The single player ranges from 4-8 hours depending on how bad you are, and it also has added a co-op campaign that is also around 4-8 hours depending on how bad you are. So right off the bat we have a 8-16 hour game vs a 90min - 3 hour game. It's about a 4 fold increase on size. It's also a 4 fold increase on price.
To be honest there really isn't a whole lot to say about portal 2. Just think of portal 1, with new levels. Story wise all the humor has transfered over to this sequel, quirky, dark, mad scientistesque humor with a splash of HEY I'M BRITISH now thrown in. As far as plot progression goes, there really isn't any. You learn a few things about glados, you see aperture science back in the day and get to here some pre recorded tapes from it's creator, and you get a new character named wheatly who really just doesn't do anything except be the bumbling fool to make you laugh.
*spoilers probably past this line*
While the game is in 9 chapters it can basically be broken down into 3 scenes. You and wheatly vs glados. The Cave Johnson experience. And you and glados vs wheatly. The problem i have with this layout, is that these aren't 3 acts, it's just like watching the beginning of a different movie 3 times in a row. Every scene starts off with a tutorial, then some test chambers, then a finale with some plot points throw in. It completely breaks the flow of the game right when there is a giant double cross, you're suddenly in a new area doing tutorials with some new stuff. Then right when there is some good meaty plot points, You have to do a stupid fucking ladder climb all the way back into the first scene and when you get there, there are some new tutorials to go through until you finally make it to the big boss fight.
Repeating the cycle to many times makes this game FEEL long. I could play for a few hours and feel like i haven't gotten anywhere besides a new room. Then finally when something does happen i'm thrust back into the beginning of a different level. Again while all the writing is great and the humor is wonderful and the puzzles are fun it doesn't offset the fact that this game is awfully paced.
The level design is beautiful, however i found them too large.
The puzzle design is fun, however i found them too linear.
Most of the time i was stuck on a puzzle (or transition) sequence is just because i couldn't see the one place on the wall where i was supposed to shoot, or i had no idea where the exit was. It's hard to connect A to B when you can't see where B is. I actually found myself using a walkthrough guide on 3 separate occasions for this game, which is something i never had to do with Portal 1. The fact that the puzzles are so linear are also a problem. You HAVE to do them in THIS order. If i got stuck in portal 1, i could "break" the game or solve it the way it wasn't supposed to be solved and progress. Granted this game breaking didn't happen often, but it was there. Portal 2 is far to specific for a puzzle game. Also another problem i had was after solving a test chamber in the cave johnson part of the game, i had MASSIVE problems trying to navigate to the next test chamber, because they aren't connected at all. But again, even these massive expansions of travel, had only 1 way to traverse them.
The fact that they added a "zoom in" feature was a red flag that i was going to have problems with this game, if and only because my vision is shit.
So that's the campaign with the least amount of spoilers i could implement.
Also now that this game is a full length feature, i expect the features i would get in any other title of it's price. I was daunted to find that after i completed the game, there is no challenge mode to see how best you can solve the puzzles that were in the game. Or as in portal 1, they also just added new test chambers to play in, because that's the main draw of the game. I would have rather had a challenge mode than a co-op mode.
Speaking of co-op, i would have LOVED to see a multiplayer mode in this game that wasn't a co-op campaign. I under stand that with first person shooters, making multiplayer isn't hard. You got your team death match, your king of the hill, your capture the flag. BAM SHIP THE GAME! But with portal they could have at least done something different. Maybe added some sort of tag mode or added a level creator. Again, comparing this game to portal 1, which launched as a freebie, that was also available for dirt cheap if not free, i find this standalone full priced incarnation very lacking.
In conclusion if you were already a huge fan of portal you probably already bought this game. If you're a fan of puzzle games in general this might be something for you, though some first person game experience will surely help. For anyone else just looking for something to play, i would seriously recommend giving portal 1 a try since it's so widely available for cheap (or free). Then if you love it go from there.
The story mode was funny, but poor plot exposition and felt like a lot of feet dragging through levels.
Co-op is fun since you have another player. Puzzles are a bit harder but it boils down to mostly timing.
A larger multiplayer set up in this game would have been marvelous, but the lack of one really brings down the value of the game overall.
Also i find the replayability of this game surprisingly low. Because of no incentive to go through single player again as there is no changing of difficulty, basically you would just go to hear the in between tests banter which is funny but forgettable. And the co-op campaign has the same problem of not really have any challenge offered after the first completion.
Final grade is it's good, but no where near as good as i expected.
This review was a lot more negative than i thought it was going to be.