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Portal 2: A Reaction From A Dangerous, Mute, Lunatic

H’okey dokey! (Spoiler free, by the way) The Misses went and rented Portal 2 for me the other day, and I am proud to say that I beat the snot out of it!  As I played the game I noticed things, both good and bad, but I wanted to go back and check over the developer commentary option as it added a great deal of information to the original Portal game.  Doing so would also help me potentially see a clue I missed, or similar hidden area of the game I glossed over along my path to completion.

The Bad

I want to get the bad out-of-the-way first, as if I don’t, this critique’ll likely get long, mumbly-jumbly, and have this, well, negative vibe to it.  I wanna keep it light and save my rantings for a possible In-Depth post to follow this one.  Again, most of the game is very well done; top-notch stuff.  That said…

The game needed more polish-time in the coding department, mostly the second and third sections of the game.

Quite a few times something went wrong in the game that was neither my nor the game’s fault.  Just something went wrong, bugged out, and I died because of it.  In one case I jumped on a box I placed on a catwalk that randomly launched me far away before the screen faded to black. I only knew for sure that it killed me when I noticed that the level restarted. 

In another example, I did precisely what the game wanted me to do to solve the puzzle, yet I died.  This set me back at least a half-hour (likely double) as I started concocting deeply laid plans and ideas on how to best the challenge and realign the same cogs I started out with.  After a long while of experimenting and staring at what the level was telling me, I realised I was way beyond over-thinking the puzzle, and figured something must have went wrong my initial attempt.  I did it again, only the second time it worked.

Sadly, the portal related issues from the first game have not been addressed for the sequel.  I actually think the issue was more or less hidden under the rug than actually fixed as the game was sure to avoid the same types of puzzles that made it so noticeable in the original.  I’m talkin’ ’bout the “jump in first portal, get sent out upside down the second” that causes a nearly nauseating flip-flop of the camera every two seconds.  (Generally this only happens when you need to fly into both portals to gain momentum and fire off another portal while airborne to go flying out of next.  –Making this a double-whammy.) When the screen is constantly flopping around it is difficult to properly aim, to say the least. 

So yes. That still needs fixing.

As it is getting a bit long, to wrap up The Bad, repetition started to nag the end of the game, and the Developer Commentary needed a LOT of work, making the whole aspect look like a flimsy add-on.  The original commentary was awesome; this time I found myself explaining aloud what Valve did and why they had to do it in such a way more than they did.  Some levels didn’t even have sound clips, while almost all only had one.  One.  One clip every twenty minutes or so?  Weak.

The Good

It is hard to say without spoilers, but I will mention that the first third of the game is a clear above-and-beyond presentation than the latter two.  There is a point where you can actually get an achievement for doing something that I think marks the high-point of the game, and actually for that matter there is another achievement that marks the lower part, but that’s another topic!

The comedy is going to be promoted by everyone who plays the game, and I really did enjoy it.  Again, this dips quite a bit later on, but the game is always kept cheerful and spiced by bits of comedy.  I recently talked about this in comparison to Brutal Legend, and how I described it is, while Brutal was very fun early on and tapered off, Portal 2 keeps it at a steady pace.  Brutal is for deep laughs every few, while Portal 2 is a chuckle a minute sort of deal.  And without spoiling anything, you are going to love Wheatley.

“Just say ‘Apple.’  ‘Apple.’ “

There are a lot of similarities to Half Life 2 in this game, in particular there is a bit with a flashlight that will remind you of Alyx and a dark, zombie-filled tunnel in no time.

The ‘Rat Dens’ or Rat Man areas in the game are welcomed back, and some are hidden very well!  I counted at least four, but I’m sure I might have missed one or two along the way.  Adding onto that, there is one detail within a certain… scientific display about a potato that I thought was awesome.

By far, Portal 2 is a great game.  I am actually typing this as positively as I can, as I know I can mention the little nit-picky things that get to me and make it sound like I loathe something when I’m just listing the things that they could have done better, so I’m going out of my way to say:  This game is great, and if all you can do is rent it or play it at a friends house, do so!  I’m rating this one as a Rental, but a full week rental ^_^  I did not spend any time on the multiplayer aspect, even if I wanted to the Playstation Network is still down, so if you got friends or working internet, you’ll probably enjoy this one even more than I!

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9 responses »

  1. Sounds like an enjoyable game!

    Sadly, I’ve never played the first Portal Game, but I think it’s on the XBLA and PSN now, right? If I can get both games for a decent price, I’ll be interested to give them a try.

    So, are there a lot of Half-Life references in the game, and how does the game relate to them?

    Reply
    • Yeah, I’m actually a bit dissapointed with myself in how the above turned out. I wanted it to be a relaxing read, but after being distracted by movies in the background for like four hours I ended up submitting what I had and cutting the overtly negative stuff as I did want to keep it easy-breezy.

      Oh, you should totally get Portal! Right now might not be the best time as I’d say PSN would be the better idea… but with the service still being down as they update their systems that isn’t really an option. (Long story short, Valve sold their soul to Microsoft and thus anything PS related was garbage to them. They even sold the rights to EA to make it on PS, that’s how much they didn’t want to ‘deal’ with Sony. Weeeell fast forward a few years and the dude is grovelling to PS3 fans at E3, saying they are now fully supporting PS and every Valve game will now be awesome on the console. So PS is getting the upper-crust treatment while Xbox is now getting the crap Sony had to put up with for years and years.)

      While you could easily jump into Portal 2, I still think the original is great and is pretty short as it was more of a test than anything. There is sure to be a bundle pack on the way, though again, if you get the PS3 version you also get a free copy for your computer to run. Which is nice ^_^ (Guessing Portal is about 10 bucks, and I’d just rent portal 2 if you got a console, that’s what I did XD)

      There aren’t a lot of references, as in, “Oh there’s Gordon!” but gameplay elements felt very Half-Life 2ish when I played it. I don’t really want to go into details as they mention it in Portal and barely touch on it in Portal 2, but if you played HL2:Episode 2, you’ll remember the doc mentioned a ship named the Borealis and that it was a project of Aperture Science, which completely disappeared as well as “part of the dry dock!” There is mention of it in Portal 2. That’s as far into Spoiler Territory I’m willin’ to go to a person who hasn’t played the games yet. Don’t wanna ruin the mystique till you unfold it on your own -_^

      I just finished playing some mulitplayer stuffs with the Misses and have to say that I think those levels are way better than the single player ones, but that could just be the company I was playing it with, too :)

      Reply
      • That could very well be due to the company…LOL!

        So, I guess what I was wondering reference-wise is whether the Portal games take place in tandem with the Half-Life ones, or sometime after them?

    • Ah, now that is kinda tricky. See, development-wise Portal was just a silly idea they bought up from a student that created a similar game and they just ran with it. They sold it in a fruit’s basket-like combo game pack, as you were likely to enjoy the other games that came with it even if you thought Portal was bad, as they had no idea to predict how it would do. Ironically it was by far the MOST popular thing they made, arguably, ever.

      The connections to their games came about similarly. As in the voice of Glados is almost identical to the Overwatch in HL2. Could they do a collab, stating Aperture screwed with something they should not have and, in turn, somehow Glados is in league with the Combine? In theory, but it would look pretty tacked on :/ I’m leaning more towards a lazy guy working in the sound department that just reused the same vocal effects on the same voice actress at the same time from two different games haha

      As for same time-line stuff, hmm. I do not want to reveal too much as even in the comment section people are worrying about spoilers (hee hee) but, uh. The Borealis part, that was pretty much the only connection between Portal and Episode 2, but they never said how long ago it happened. I will say there was a line in Portal that hinted that the Combine took over the world in the mean time, so it has occurred after the seven hour war, and minus a few hints like *right* at the end, that’s all you really get. The company does exist in HL-land, and Portal takes place anytime after the beginning of the first HL.

      Portal 2 is way trickier to say, as you are informed time passed right in the beginning, but the method they tell you is flawed. A machine says how many days have passed, but it is just spouting out “9… 9… 9…” etc. So based on the amount it says before other events occur (and if you glanced at this, MMO, this happens within the first sixty seconds of the game so don’t get mad!), it could be three to 300 years, or way more depending on what the memory of that computer kept as a ‘maximum number’.

      So, Portal 2 is three to 300 years after the first game which itself was going any time after the beginning of the first HL. The devs have said they want to incorporate the player character from Portal within HL, so we might just see her pop up somehow in episode 3. From being hinted at, to a cameo, or even a full on role, I dunno. A few things just sort of happened as the game panned out, making me think they didn’t really plan ahead very well, so I’m nearly expecting retconned stuff just to make that supposed cross-over work. (If they even go through with it at all.) Even if only, say, 10 years pass and G-Man does something to summon the main character to Gordon, that’ll make everyone around Gordon that much older… and odds of him jumping from rooftop to rooftop at 30-40+ seems unlikely :P

      Reply
    • Oh, and I was way off! If you get it for PC, it’s only like 27 bucks, and 34ish for consoles. Amazon has the best deals at the moment, but Gamestop isn’t that far off if you’d rather purchase in person. Sorry ’bout that, thought it would cost more. AND the first DLC will be free, says Valve!

      Reply
  2. I’ll admit, I only skimmed this article because I don’t want any spoilers, but I’m looking forward to playing this. It seems to have gotten good reviews all around. And I just finished the first game just last week LOL…

    Reply
    • Read away, MMO! I was sure to leave out any spoilers at all in this post as I plan on doing an in-depth one later on. I think the preview videos/commercials of the game revealed more than I did in the post above, so don’t worry about reading “OMG G-Man shows up and marries the main character at the end!” or anything.

      Oh crap! I just said it!

      I keed’, I keed’ :P

      Reply
  3. I really love the humor and the twist in this one. While I have not played, I have been watching my son play. I still need to get around to it, it looks really fun. Meh I still have The Sims medieval waiting to be patched and played past the tutorial… So many games, so little time ;)

    Reply
    • Yeah, I get that feeling pretty often, too :D Madam rented Red Dead Redemption for me as well, and that game is very well done, too. Minecraft. WoW. Dinner. Gotta juggle em *just so*… At least we beat multiplayer Portal 2 last night, so that’s one less thing on muh’ plate!

      Seemed to move far faster than single player, so I think their claims of ‘online is just as long as single’ is a bit off. Single felt long, but a good long. Like ‘wow, it keeps going?’ while co-op seemed to hint it was ending soon, and then it *did*. The level numbers might be the same, but the time spent solving was shorter. I dare say it was easier as well, dispelling some claims review sites say that co-op levels were harder. They might only be harder if you are playing with someone ‘cross the world without a mic on either end. Maybe then.

      Reply

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