• Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity
  • Far Beyond My Capacity

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Potato Cake

1 comment
"Speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out."

"We're a lot alike, you and I. You tested me. I tested you. You killed me. I—oh, no, wait. I guess I haven't killed you yet. Well. Food for thought."

"Oh, in case you get covered in that Repulsion Gel, here's some advice the lab boys gave me: [sound of rustling pages] "Do not get covered in the Repulsion Gel." We haven't entirely nailed down what element it is yet, but I'll tell you this: It's a lively one and it does not like the human skeleton."

"The bean counters told me we literally could not afford to buy seven dollars worth of moon rocks, much less seventy million. Bought 'em anyway. Ground 'em up, mixed em into a gel. And guess what? Ground up moon rocks are pure poison. I am deathly ill. Still, it turns out they're a great portal conductor. So now we're gonna see if jumping in and out of these new portals can somehow leech the lunar poison out of a man's bloodstream. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. [cough] Let's all stay positive and do some science. That said, I would really appreciate it if you could test as fast as possible. Caroline, please bring me more pain pills."

"Alright, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons! What am I supposed to do with these?! Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! With the lemons!"

Yep, Portal 2 is as mad as a box of mad scientist frogs.

It's also quite, quite brilliant.

The first Portal started life as one of the more successful Half Life 2 mods before being tweaked into a full game. There was, and still is, nothing quite like it; a first-person puzzle game with a very dark, subtle and twisted sense of humour, along with one of the greatest pieces of game credits music ever written.

The success of the original Portal lay in just a few things done properly: A very simple concept, superb puzzle design, and a perfect learning curve all dressed up in a stylish and amusing environment.

None of these things have changed with the sequel. Instead a few interesting new mechanics have been added, along with a proper story and around three times the content. Other than that it is very much in the mold of the original, and that is a good thing.

The concept remains the same. Shoot blue portal here, shoot orange portal there. You can then pass through the portals to reach the exit of testing chambers. It's so simple that anyone can pick it up within seconds.

It's the learning curve and puzzle design that elevate the concept into something special. The puzzles are brilliantly developed. A common puzzle might start with you thinking there is no way on earth this can be solved, before you start to think about the physics of the game and the environment, then suddenly light dawns and you see the solution and cannot believe it wasn't immediately apparent as it seems so logical. The puzzles leave you feeling all clever and proud, and what's more the solutions are often a lot of fun as you fly cartwheeling across the zones, propelled by nothing more than physics. They leave you grinning.

There are a few new mechanics introduced this time round, along with the trusty portal gun. In this game you all gain access to special paint gel that comes in different flavours; red gel on the floor makes you run extremely quickly, blue gel allows you to bounce very high, and white gel will act as a portal surface. These additions make the game even more fun and challenging, allowing for really fiendish puzzles that have you bouncing, skating and portaling around like some kind of crazed flea.

Blue gel = bouncy!
The environments are fun and varied, taking in ruined test chambers from the first game, overgrown ruins of the test facility, the interconnected subways and spaces between the chambers, and even a surprise trip to a very far off place indeed. They all display that old Portal sense of humour as well, such as apologetic death-dealing gun turrets. Some of the vistas are truly epic, giving a great feel for the expanse of the Aperture Laboratories test facility.

The Labs are biiiiiig
The story picks up decades (or is it centuries?) after the events of the first game, with Chell waking up inside a decaying Aperture Laboratories facility. Her escape is aided by an emotion core called Wheatley (drolly voiced by Stephen Merchant), but it's not long before GLaDOS is awakened and out for revenge. Of course, being a Portal game there are plenty of twists along the way.

GLaDOS returns
Special mention has to be given to JK Simmons who plays the disembodied voice of Aperture founder Cave Johnson. His reading of Cave Johnson's increasingly erratic broadcasts are hilarious, adding sarcasm, peril and pathos to the story.

Valve are experts are creating great characters from what are basically machines, and their work pays off again here. The only slightly sour note was Stephen Merchant's performance, which to start I found annoying and unfunny. By the last third of the game however I really warmed to his Wheatley, though that was mainly due to the change in the character giving him some great lines of dialogue.

The game was a joy to play from start to finish, and I still haven't touched on the co-operative campaign. This features a further set of completely unique levels for co-operative play, another new twist that I can't wait to try out.

Portal 2, like it's predecessor is a really tough game to try and explain. It's so easy to pick up, and so hard to put down, and that is the sign of all great puzzlers.

1 comment:

  1. Another great review.

    I'm looking forward to trying Portal(1) this weekend!

    ReplyDelete

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