The much-anticipated sequel to Portal has arrived, and it holds nothing back. Impressively enough it seems they wrapped up everything they needed to without having to hint at a sequel. Considering the state of many games nowadays, that’s impressive (at least to me).

A metaphorical me after Portal 2

The game doesn’t rest on its laurels in relation to its established story and jokes, however. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to remember them actively referencing any of the jokes found in the first game aside from one joke by GLaDOS: “Now you’re thinking with stupidity.” This is exactly what the game does- it breaks out of its own mold and goes on to be a fantastic standalone experience regardless of whether you’ve played the first game or not. I seriously haven’t played a game (a sequel no less) that has left me this satisfied in a long time.

Will its final fate be revealed?!

Story—
I wouldn’t dream of spoiling the story, but suffice to say that any pressing questions about character story are pretty much answered through normal dialogue without having to go into flashbacks or text files. The story plays out at its own pace and wraps up what it needs to. By the end of the game you probably won’t have any pressing questions, either because you know everything you need to, or because you’re still in shock after the game’s completion.

Environments are far more varied this time

Gameplay—
The physics-bending puzzles of portal activity are still there, but the sequel brings a slew of new aspects to the game that increases the complexity (and fun) by several degrees. Momentum is still a key factor in the game. Falling through a portal and coming out of a wall (or diagonally placed panel) will send you rocketing (hopefully) toward your destination. Good thing Chell’s got spiffy new boots on. Only they’re not new. Or they were, but now they’re not. Get what I’m saying?No? Excellent.

Now you can also slide.jpg

All the basic items found in previous games have either received a small graphical overhaul or received new functions and variations entirely. Cubes now come in weighted, classic, reflective, edgeless, and hybrid types. Strangely enough, there was little to no mention of the much-vaunted companion cube. As if a piece of my soul has been crushed. But getting back to business, turrets also received a number of “upgrades”, though unfortunately my hope for customizable turret skins in-game did not see fruition.
Additionally, various gels have been introduced that allow you to practice your practical artistry skills in the pursuit of bouncing, sliding and of course more portals. Then there’s aerial faith plates, excursion funnels, pneumatic diversity vents, hard light bridges and potatoes. Trust me, you won’t get bored, even if you’re not sure what those things are. As Cave Johnson said, “you’ll know it when you see it.” Though judging by the number of times the term “tumor” got thrown around, I am a bit worried about the long-term effects of testing…. Ah, well. At least you won’t get hungry.

Having a good experience

Co-op is surprisingly solid, despite the relative lack of a narrative. Where it really shines is how much more elaborate puzzles can get when you create 2 connected portals. Things get crazy in co-op, and thankfully it’s not all that painful thanks to a few helpful tools built into the game mode, such as being able to leave a marker for your partner to take not of or looking through each others’ eyes. If you have a friend who also enjoys portal, this is a must-play part of the game. If you have no friends, hop back online when PSN is back up. There might not be much narrative to it, but the emotes, tools and your partner really define the experience.

Sound—

I can't solve crises without my smooth jazz

The sound in Portal 2 is weird and almost spooky at times, and unashamedly hilarious at other times. It consistently has its own unique atmosphere thanks not just to the dialogue, but to the music as well. Between subtle background noises and various in-universe sound effects, the games tone sets itself apart in the audio department just as much as it does in other areas.

The voice acting in this game is amazing, by the way. Each character is wildly unique, and busts out their lines with considerable style. It’s a good thing, too, since that’s about the only way you interact with this games characters. GLaDOS is even more hilariously dark then before, and all the other characters really define their own “story arcs.” The decision to not have Chell (the protagonist) talk remains a smart move.

In Summation—
Portal 2 was everything I wanted it to be and more. It may not be worth the $60 price tag to some, but I think that if Valve manages their DLC strategy in as humble a manner as their TF2 strategy, I think it may come to be worth every penny. Well, that is of course assuming they’re not going to go off and finish the Half-Life storyline.

Portal 2 was developed and published by Valve Software

EDIT: Readers should note that the ending theme is something of a spoiler.

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