Portal 2 Story
“To help you keep calm in the face of almost certain death, smooth jazz will be employed..”
“If it makes you feel any better, Science has just validated your mothers decision to abandon you on a doorstep”
Sarcastic comments like these are what help move Portal 2’s story line along tremendously. They also had me laughing to myself for a good ten minutes. Like the first Portal, the games story revolves around your character running through a series of puzzles within the Aperture Science facility. Unlike the first game however there are several new characters. *spoiler* GlaDOS returns to her formidable form and with the addition of ‘Wheatley’ a small AI who attempts to help you escape (voiced by Stephen Merchant) and ‘Cave Johnson’ a sociopathic scientist who founded the Aperture Science labs (voiced by JK Simmons) – now we get to see where GlaDOS gets its approach to science!
Unlike a completely story driven game however, the plot is thin in places and very predictable when you come to major story moments. However unlike a completely story driven game, where I would expect a decent storyline to carry the game; this didn’t bother me. The witty and sarcastic conversations definitely make up for that fact; as well as making up for the fact that your character is as mute as a door handle.
The new characters such as ‘Wheatley’ add a new dimension to the game and bring their own great personalities into the story very prominently. ‘Wheatley’ for instance, there are moments within the game where I find him much funnier than GLaDOS (though I would assume that depends on your sense of humour) and then there are only a limited amount of times I want to hear him utter the words “Ahh brilliant, you made it through then? Good” or something to that variant. However bad it can be in parts, the story in this Portal game certainly keeps you entertained throughout and helps to keep you engaged and makes sure you’re listening to the voice-overs.
Portal 2 Sound
The sound and music in Portal 2 are absolutely fantastic, so when you play the game make sure you have you’re speakers or headphones turned up. The sound makes up for any of the graphic inadequacies you may have with this game; from the chimes which the game introduces when you start to use the “Speed-Up” Gel, to the sound when a Portal is created. Not forgetting the wind whooshing through the speakers when your character is in some sort of long fall- really helping to develop how fast and far your character is traveling in those sort of situations.
All of this sound and then there is also the fantastic quality voice over work. There’s no possible way I can score the sound on Portal 2 particularly low.
Portal 2 Graphics
The graphics in Portal 2 are a huge step up from the original game as expected, however they were certainly nothing groundbreaking. I was certainly impressed by the amount of detail which the developers had obviously put into making the game look unique completely throughout the game. Other developers may have taken an easy route out, with reusing maps and spaces, but Portal 2 is unique from start to finish. Whilst traveling throughout the Aperture Science labs you will begin to realize its enormity and start to understand what I’m talking about.
The facility itself is a crumbling ruin, left to fall this way since the death of the caretaker and puzzle-master in the previous Portal game. Whilst trying to escape the labs you are taken through the older industrial sectors of the facility, you get to see the actual scenery around you changing; door designs change, the way buttons and other tools also gradually change the way they look.
A few of the graphical problems realistically include the way your character looks. Portal is designed as a “First-Person” game so ideally you’re not supposed to see her, however due to the places you can put Portal’s you will inevitably see her through one of them and I warn you, it is a bit of a letdown considering the lengths the developers have gone to upgrade all of the other graphics in the game. Also I noted when standing under dripping water and looking up, makes the water look terrible, so my advice would be not to do such an action. Admire the water from afar for what it is and don’t go near it if you can; especially the standing water.. you may die!
Portal 2 Gameplay
The single-player game starts out nice and slow, understandably for those of us who aren’t as familiar with the first game as others. It slowly introduces you too the pre-existing game mechanics such as the portal gun and picking items up. The game then starts to bring new gameplay mechanics in around a third of the way into the story- something I wasn’t expecting and was a rather nice surprise. It certainly helps differentiate Portal 2 from the original game, the new and moveable Refractor cubes are one of my personal favorites. These cubes are probably the closest thing you’ll come across which you could probably define as an actual weapon in the Portal series, the static lasers on the wall can be refracted and redirected in any direction of your choosing using these cubes- whether it be towards an errant drone seeking to pile a bunch of bullets into your character or towards a laser operated switch on the wall.
In addition to the refractor cubes, Portal 2 also introduces Light Bridges- which can be used as walkways and shields- Excursion Funnel/Tubes which are useful for levitating objects and three different colored gels which can be used used to speed yourself up, make your jumps particularly effective and a specific portal receptive gel, which can be spewed everywhere.
Portal 2 Content
Additional to the single story mode which can take anywhere from 5hours to complete, up to somewhere around 12hours for a complete novice, Valve have also included a “co-op” mode where you get to play a completely different mini-storyline with a friend, which includes around 40 differing puzzles and requires a great amount of teamwork and effort to navigate through. Overall the content could probably be completed in around 14/15hours for the novice puzzler and maybe a little less for the more serious of puzzlers. Whereas that might not sound like a great deal of content, I’m getting the feeling that I’m probably going to want to go back and replay through the single-play missions again in a month or so, just to re-experience the humour.
Portal 2 Overall
“Once that I had figured out that to complete the puzzle I needed to slide along the orange gel through a portal, jump on the blue gel to gain momentum across the gap, hit the button while flying through mid-air, do a triple back flip and then land on a 2 meter wide ledge to shimmy across to the main wall, use my portal gun to open a new portal- just to fall another 50meters and land directly in front of the exit.” OK, so I may be exaggerating just a little- but once you’ve figured all of that out and then actually done it, you’ll feel quite clever and probably proclaim your genius to any randomer you come across in the street. But for the 20minutes prior to that, trying to figure out the puzzle and swearing blind that it’s definitely unsolvable to all you’re friend(s) on Steam, you’ll feel as dumb as a generic dumb animal (not to be animal specific, I don’t want to be offending any particular animal groups now do I?).
I love and I hate this game at the same time, the humor is immense! The difficulty and scale of the game certainly ramps up to the point where you’ll be in a ridiculously large area having, to use the limited zoom and running around for 5 minutes- just to try and figure out exactly where the exit door is- so you can then start to figure out how to solve the puzzle and actually get to that door. Also once you start getting to the end of the story and the single-player missions, you start to hit the more arduous long stints of puzzle after puzzle after puzzle with very little breaks inbetween.. I would start to wonder what my counterparts were doing while I was running around in the sewer trying to find an exit, just to then find the actual exit for it to be welded shut or for the elevator to be out of service and I would be moved onto the next chapter. Whereas this solves the unnecessary amount of loading screens you see earlier on in the game, it does tend to slow the storyline down and this is where I started to lose interest- due to me not really being in the game for the challenge but more for the humorous voice-overs and oddly drawing in story.
A definite game to purchase and certainly a contender for the “DHG Game of the Year; 2011” in my eyes.