Let’s Play A Game – Portal Edition

Posted: July 10, 2012 in Let's Play A Game

“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!

image credit: gameinformer.com

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”.

image credit: strategywiki.org

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:

image credit: thinkwithportals.com

Portal 2: Lab Rat comic (online | pdf)


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