Portal 2 is the sequel to the hit spin-off of the Half-Life series. First introduced as part of the Orange Box in 2007, Portal surprised players with it’s innovative gameplay mechanics and mind bending puzzles. The first Portal puts you in the role of Chell, a test subject in Aperture Laboratories, who while completing tests discovers that the moderator of the tests, GLaDOS, has gone and killed everyone within Aperture and Chell must find a way to stop her and escape with her own life.
Portal 2 picks up a few years after the events of the first game. After defeating GLaDOS in the first game, Chell was put into stasis during which Aperture Labs began to be overrun by nature. After waking up, you are greeted by a clumsy robot named Wheatley (Voiced by British writer/actor Stephen Merchant) who tries to help you escape. It doesn’t take too long for Wheatley to accidentally awaken GLaDOS and force you to find a way to escape this forgotten facility.
For those who haven’t played Portal, the gameplay is very different from any other first-person game. The only weapon you have is the portal gun, which allows you to fire two points in which you can travel between instantly. The majority of the game revolves around using this portal gun to make your way to the exits of each chamber you come across. Along with the portal gun, there are some new elements in Portal 2 that you will need to interact with along the way. These new elements include 3 types of gels : Repulsion (causes whatever it touches to become bouncy,) Propulsion (decreases friction of anything it touches,) and conversion (allows portals to be placed on whatever it covers.) Along with the gels, there are light bridges, lasers, and Excursion funnels (a sort of tractor beam.)
The main campaign can take you anywhere from 4 to 7 hours to complete depending on your skill. Those who are new to the series may need to take more time in order to figure out how to proceed through the chambers (luckily there is no time limit, so you can take as much time as you need,) while veteran Portal players may fly through the entire campaign with no problems.
Along with the single player campaign, Portal 2 also includes a co-op mode with it’s own story line and specific puzzles to complete. This mode has you playing as 2 robots that were created with the sole purpose of completing puzzles. Since most of the puzzles require teamwork to complete, Portal 2 includes a command that lets you point out certain things for your partner to look at. This command is incredibly helpful if you don’t have a headset to talk to your partner with. There are somewhere around 50 levels in co-op and most of them can be completed whatever order you like. Playing through the co-op is a lot more fun when playing with someone you know than letting the matchmaker find a player for you. Playing with someone you don’t know can be hit or miss. Sometimes you’ll work well with your partner and other times you can end up with someone who really doesn’t know what they are doing and that can hold you back as well.
Graphically, Portal 2 does well enough. The game runs on the Source engine which has been around for almost 7 years now and is starting to show it’s age. Portal 2 does have some amazing visual moments, but this is more due to the creative design and not so much to the actual visual detail.
The soundtrack is very good but minimal, where most of the music only comes in during intense or important moments. Though light on the soundtrack, Portal 2 does feature various sound effects for each element you interact with creating your own soundtrack as you progress through each level. The voice acting is also top notch and very funny with continuous dialogue throughout the whole game.
The only real downsides to the game would be it’s constant load times and the fact that after completing the game there isn’t too much of a reason to go back as the Challenge maps were not included in the sequel (coming later as free DLC in the next few months.)Though not the longest game, Portal 2′s story more than makes up for it. With it’s witty writing and hilariously strange characters as well as some story twists, Portal 2 is a blast to play from beginning to end.