Having now played Portal 2’s cooperative campaign through to the end, what can I say about it? Well, first off; don’t play it with Sannas, especially when he’s tired.
Okay, so here is my “review” of Portal 2. However I will say I’ve not played the single player campaign, so I intend to come back and adjust these scores accordingly.
Portal 2 Story
As I’ve said, I’ve only played the co-op, so I can’t say whether the two stories tie together, if they do this score will probably improve. As it is, the cooperative campaign is based around these two robots doing challenges and helping to bring Aperture Science back online. Although it seems the real reason for their existence is to be repeatedly “disassembled” (sometimes self-inflicted, sometimes as the result of voyeuristic turrets) and reassembled while undergoing tests throughout the Aperture Science labs. It’s also a great opportunity to have GLaDOS spout abuse, but remember, you’re robots and feel no pain! Unfortunately, but for a few prize moments, it fails to have the same level of humour as the original, perhaps simply through knowing what to expect. Those choice moments are an attempt to sow seeds of distrust between the two companions, however it does little for actual gameplay as you’re both needed to open the door at the end of each challenge, so there is little hope of your partner abandoning you (although removing a portal just as a comrade is charging towards it at full pelt can be amusing, you‘ll hear more about this later!)
So, it turns out you’re helping GLaDOS to revive the human test subjects, this whole sequence seems to suggest a twist coming, however whether there is some “Easter Egg” at the end of the credits, I wouldn’t know, as they were so long and boring I gave up at “M”.
All in all then, the Co-Op story fails to really get going. You go through the motions of solving each challenge purely on the basis that it’s all there is to do, sure this is a puzzle game and so that’s the general idea, but without the fear of ‘death’ or any real incentive (I wantz me cake!) I did unfortunately feel a little too robotic while playing.
Portal 2 Sound
The sound is great as always the funny voice-overs are all here and there are some great little features, like the ‘wall-smash’ effect (“I‘ll make sure the portal is there Sannas, honest!”) which comes along with a wonderful ‘flat spider pose’ from the robot.
In the cooperative game, there is very little by way of atmospherics, but I suppose as most of this campaign take place in a very “caged in” location, limited atmospherics are to be expected.
So many of the sounds are so similar to the first game that there is little to complain about, and little to write home about either.
Portal 2 Graphics
The aging process on the Aperture science testing chambers can be seen with broken panelling and a nice mix of stages in which you go “outside”. All this adds a lot to the look and feel of this game as being different to the first. The robots themselves look pretty awesome, from the shiny metal surfaces to the wagging antennae, and the animations involved are awesome too. I’ve said it plenty, but the “splat” effect is one not to miss, I highly recommend launching a cooperative partner into a wall purely for the giggle, although it’s much finnier when it happens accidentally. The splatter of the ‘gels’ are quite cool, although a little too unnervingly lava-lamp-like for me.
I do feel like a broken record; but while there is a noticeable improvement to the original, it’s not ground-breaking enough to mark this game out as graphically superior.
Still, with my rig that’s probably a very good thing, as I managed to play without lag or graphical stuttering.
Portal 2 Gameplay
New ‘toys’ like the speedy (orange) gel and bouncy (blue) gel add some new challenge types. However perhaps it was the combined power of two minds but this just didn’t feel very challenging. A few moments of “stop and think” but nothing too difficult, these new challenge types seem more like ‘gimmicks’ than new ways to cause difficulty. Therefore, a little new gameplay “style” but not much new in substance.
There were a few niggling problems, suck as bumping into an invisible wall or being unable to pass easily through a portal or a switch raising steps through the body of your companion. Not so much game-breaking bugs, but still irritating enough to ruin the sense of polish.
Portal 2 Content
I’ve actually scored this down because, especially in this cooperative section, Valve seem to be playing a little money spinning. Check out the “Robot Enrichment” section and you’ll find new body sprays for the ‘bots, hats and gestures all priced at about £1.50 each. You’d have to be a little crazy to purchase these things, but it’s a sure bet many will.
Now that little rant is out of the way, the game itself. The cooperative campaign is pretty fun, but unfortunately short and as mentioned, not too challenging. I reckon it provides a couple of hours of gameplay, but unless you want to play again with a new friend, or wearing the hat you purchased at the enrichment shrine, little to come back for. That said the central hub has 5 chambers (each with a series of challenges) and plenty of space to grow, so let’s hope there will be more included in some future expansion.
Portal 2 Overall
The cooperative part of this game is fun enough to play through. It provides some opportunity to mock your foolish co-reviewer when he runs face first into a portal only to fly through the air to his doom, but little else. The challenges don’t really take much collaboration, although when they do there is a nice “Ping” system that allows you to point and prompt, although there is also in game voice, which we used, that made it much easier. Speaking of the in game voice system, when you launch cooperative any background voice clients (Skype, Ventrilo etc) are quietened to near mute, so it makes this a truly duo-experience.