Archive for July, 2012


Posted: July 31, 2012 in Let's Play A Game
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Slender¬†is a creepy indie freeware game¬†currently doing the rounds. It seems like¬†every gamer I follow is talking about it at the moment.¬†I was already somewhat familiar with the story of “Slender Man” from a foray into the 4Chan paranormal boards a few years back, and was interested to see how someone had managed to work the concept into a game.¬†So last night I dimmed the lights and fired up the old laptop to see what it’s all about.



I watched a great documentary last night about a somewhat neglected page in the history of gaming: the text-based adventure game.

Get Lamp: The Text Adventure Documentary¬†is a fantastic introduction to ye olde days of text-based adventure games (or “interactive fiction“) for those unfamiliar with it.¬†Aside from being a great insight into the world of early PC gaming, it’s also a fascinating look at the people who pioneered it.

You can watch it (for free!) on youtube, complete with an intro by Jason Scott (my digital hoarder historian hero) at a Google Tech Talk. The doco itself starts around 07.30:

Get Lamp¬†brought up some interesting points. (more…)

“You appear to understand how a portal affects forward momentum, or to be more precise, how it does not. Momentum, a function of mass and velocity, is conserved between portals. In layman’s terms: speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out.”

So I finally finished Portal 2¬†last night. It’s not a particuarly difficult game, but after playing through the co-op missions with a buddy a few months ago, I put it aside for awhile before starting the single-player campaign. And it more than lived up to my expectations!

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Since I didn’t have an Xbox 360 when Portal¬†originally came out (released as part of the The Orange Box¬†in 2007), I was a little late to the game. I remember reading a few reviews and thinking that it sounded like a game I had to play, but forgot about it until a friend gave me¬†Portal 2 ¬†earlier this year.

Before starting¬†Portal 2, I decided to¬†dust off the¬†Orange Box¬†and finally see what this Portal¬† business was all about. And I was absolutely blown away.¬†I think I may have even shed a tear during the ending credits (and instantly became a lifelong Jonathon Coulton fan).¬†It was also refreshing to find myself enjoying a game that wasn’t focused on headshots or killing sprees – considering my favourite games are usually more in the vein of sandbox slashers and shoot-em-ups like¬†GTA¬†&¬†Halo, I was amazed that I could become so immersed in a game that didn’t involve a single human casualty.

Briefly,¬†Portal¬†is a first-person¬†perspective¬†game which begins when you awaken in a sterile scientific facility, and are immediately urged by a computerised female voice (GLaDOS) to begin “testing”.

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The tests involve completing simple puzzles through the use of portals GLaDOS creates for you, and eventually you get a gun with which to create portals of your own. From there you must continue to navigate the facility by completing each chamber aided only by your wits and your portal gun, all while putting up with GLaDOS’ endless taunts and thinly veiled insults.

As a game, Portal¬†was¬†funny, challenging, intriguing – it ticked all the ‘intellectual gamer’ boxes (and having a kick-ass female protagonist didn’t go astray either).¬†Portal¬†2¬†retained all these elements and added vastly improved graphics, while expanding both¬†the¬†narrative touched on in the first game and¬†the¬†character of GlaDOS, a sociopathic AI obsessed with “testing”.¬†Overall, I found it more engaging than the first¬†Portal, although the ¬†simple elegance and sheer novelty of the first game¬†(both¬†in gameplay and narrative) will always hold a special place in my heart.

Also worth noting is that the Portal games can be enjoyed by the ‘casual gamer’ – when I played Portal, I finished the game in around 4 hours, and I knocked off Portal 2 in around¬†5-6 hours (over 3 sessions).

Overall, Portal 2 is a fantastic sequel to a stellar series, and I highly recommended it.

5 stars



And finally, I couldn’t make a post about¬†Portal¬†without including Jonathon Coulton’s epic ending credits song from the first game:


As a bonus, I have also included a link to the Portal 2: Lab Rat¬†¬†comic which was released to bridge the games – it’s quite short, but a great read for fans:

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Portal 2: Lab Rat comic (online | pdf)