Mixing humor into an enjoyable gaming experience is always a winner in my book, and Portal excels in this. Every challenge has a little intro and exit routine from the “friendly” AI computer GLaDOS and these become more and more hilarious as your success in the challenges before you become obviously irritating to your watcher. And without giving away too many spoilers (blog sites are full enough of these as it is) you’ll be looking forward to your icing-covered reward.
Fits the game perfectly, which is what you come to expect from Valve. From the moment you “wake up” there is a familiar tune playing (maybe that’s just me, because I’m an internet geek and because JoCo rocks my socks). Much will be familiar to any Half-Life fan, like the drowning sounds and even the death-chime. But new comers will likely enjoy the creepy voice of GLaDOS to the explosive portal gun itself as much as any.
Although it’s now dated, it’s dated well. Yes, the character model looks a little grim, but it’s in first person and you’re looking at your character through a “reflective” portal. Genius. The levels do all look pretty similar, you’re never going to think “wow” as there are no panoramic landscapes to stare out into, but it’s all in keeping with the claustrophobic feel of being an Aperture Science Test Subject. Give in to your fate, and enjoy the loveliness of those white padded walls!
Using the same engine as Half-Life 2 means the game has the physics engine and although some would class this as an FPS (You do have a gun) it’s really a puzzle game. And still one of the most enjoyable. Although challenging there is never really a point where you’re “stuck” which is quite unique amongst this kind of game. I got from start to finish in one sitting without having to consult a walkthrough of any kind.
Although the game itself will only challenge you for a couple of hours, the story is a lot of fun and there is replay value provided by “Challenge” modes, like only using a certain amount of portals or taking a certain amount of steps to reach the end point. That and a couple of unlock-able maps and list of possible achievements means you’ll probably spend more than a couple of unholy hours trying to perfect that level that’s giving you particular trouble.
This was one of my favorite games on the initial play-through, and is user-friendly enough that even my technophobe girlfriend could give it a go. Although the concept of teleportation using nothing more than a handheld portal device did require some explanation. The story is engaging and (as mentioned) humorous. This is a game I’d happily be locked in the doghouse with (indeed for, as sitting up at 3am screaming “DAMMIT… HOW THE HELL DO I DO THIS IN FIVE PORTAL JUMPS!” is ‘not healthy’), and would recommend (indeed have recommended) to others. It does what it sets out to do; a fun, if not particularly difficult puzzler, providing plenty of laughs along the way. And for a game based on physics based challenges it’s surprisingly approachable, much down to the great writing. I couldn’t explain the velocity-direction manipulation provided by the placement of portals any better than GLaDOS: “speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out!”
Ry’s Portal Score: 70%
Jono’s Portal Score: 78%
Sannas’ Portal Score: 95%