Time flies. Has it really been four years since The Orange Box came out? It’s still crystal clear in my memory when Valve released that fantastic compilation of games (Half Life 2, HL2: Episode One, HL2: Episode Two, Portal and Team Fortress 2) just how much gamers went nuts over Portal.
You being the game playing as a mute woman who wakes up in a white panelled room, the subject of a rather strange ‘science’ experiment. Through a sequence of logic puzzles, you use a device that creates portals to navigate your way through a maze of test chambers. If that was all there was to it, Portal still would still have been fondly remembered for just the portal mechanic alone.
However, in the closing chapter of the game, instead of completing the final test chamber which was punctuated by a burning furnace, the player was able to dramatically pull back the curtain, leave the test environment and make a run for it, against the wishes of the seemingly omnipotent computer AI GlaDOS who had been your guide throughout the game. The final chapter of the game, with its weighted companion cubes, cake and that song made Portal the biggest talking point of The Orange Box, created half a dozen internet memes and made an experimental three hour long puzzle game a Game of the Year contender in the same year that Halo 3, Super Mario Galaxy and Rock Band came out.
Four years later, here we are with a full blown sequel. Does the game still retain its charm? Do the puzzle mechanics work just as well stretched out over a longer game?
I can’t quite give my full opinion on those questions just yet. I’m about halfway through the single player mode for now. The one thing I will say though is that the game does retain its hilariously dry sense of humour and four years after the original game’s release, the industry that Portal is surrounded in is still primarily dominated by dour and humourless shoot ’em ups. For that alone, Portal 2 is easy to recommend in that the game involves almost no combat and is very, very funny.
A full review will be up in due course.