REVIEW: Portal 2

Feb
21

REVIEW: Portal 2

Whether you’re playing for the single-player or co-op campaign, Portal 2 will offer you hours of enjoyment and laughs.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player, Co-op
Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
Developer: Valve
Publisher: Valve
Release date: 19 Apr, 2011

Intro

Welcome to Aperture Laboratories. In here, you’ll do a lot of tests for the sake of science until you die. Are you ready? If yes, stare at me. If not, maybe this music can help you. *plays classical music*

Portal 2 is the second game of the Portal series where you have to utilize your portal gun to create portals and complete tests. Hopefully.

Graphics

As a first-person game, the game shows the environment, both as ruined facility and some white, machinery areas very well. The use of fogs when you are outside the rooms is also done brilliantly to give more atmosphere to the area. Everything looks clean and detailed except for two areas after you go outside the facility. Grasses look jagged and backgrounds are empty – it reminds me of the visuals in retro 3D games. Luckily, the game mostly takes place inside the facility, even when you’re outside the testing room since the facility is very vast.

The game seems to do a clever job in utilizing the slow loading time by implementing a nice loading screen. A beautiful-looking image will be displayed on the screen which will be updated as the progress bar goes higher – whether it’ll be given more detail or zoomed out. It was satisfying to watch the loading screen this way instead of looking at still images or seeing a number goes up to 100.

Story

There is hardly any story in the game. Most dialogues are just about tests and jokes, which I didn’t find to be funny due to my low sense of humor. They still make me smile sometimes though, and the unique way of storytelling is also done without making the jokes to be forced. If you insist on having a story, the game also has a story hidden beneath the jokes. The clever execution of telling jokes while providing a decent story is something that is hard to do, but achieved perfectly in this game.

Funny posters are also placed on the wall for your entertainment.

The Game

Gameplay

If you think that the game will somehow involve portals, you’re right. The game will offer you a portal gun that can be used to create a portal, which of course, is used to travel from one spot to another. The use of the gun will allow you to reach previously unreachable places, with or without tricks. Some limitations such as glass walls and blue barriers that will render your portal gun useless will also be introduced as you progress the game, adding more difficulty to it.

Despite the tutorial at the beginning of the game, I didn’t understand how to play the game at first. I got stuck at the second level right away since I couldn’t figure out everything I can do with the portal-making. Strangely, the tutorial only covers basic control and new mechanics will be introduced in a simple picture, expecting you to learn by experiencing it yourself. I’m not sure whether the tutorial was cut short because it’s the second installment of the series or not, but it took me a while before I could solve the levels because of this.

New mechanics are explained in simple images.

Levels

The game starts as simple tests where you have to use your portal gun to reach the exit. More obstacles will be introduced as you progress further, forcing you to think hard to solve them. It might get tedious doing similar puzzles every time, and the game knows it very well. You will be transported to other areas outside the usual white rooms after some levels, changing the level to be more of an exploration with problem-solving. Although this is a good way to refresh your brain, the game tends to be vague in letting you know where to go next – I got stuck in these levels a lot since I couldn’t seem to find the next area, which is usually either well-hidden or located far away.

Co-op

Despite having the same basic mechanics, the co-op campaign in Portal 2 increases the enjoyment by a huge margin. Five co-op courses with ~9 levels each will be available to play where your teamwork and trust will be tested. You’ll need to communicate well with your partner, whether using in-game voice or text chat, to plan how to solve the levels. Some levels also require you to trust your partner as they command you to move between obstacles. Surprisingly, the co-op mode is still brimming with players even after ~9 years of its release date, whether it’s veterans or newbies.

Length and Difficulty

I finished the single-player campaign in 10.2h and the co-op campaign in 12.4h with most achievements unlocked. There are some challenging levels, especially near the end of the game, although the levels are usually in the medium difficulty. Strangely, finding the next location in the exploration areas usually gave me more trouble than solving the levels in the single-player campaign.

Despite the use of a lot of particles, the game runs surprisingly well.

Specs

Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40GHz, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650

Verdict

It’s a solid puzzle game where you have to think differently to solve the levels. To be honest, I still didn’t get how to utilize the portal to create momentum sometimes, but it was fun to solve the puzzles. The ending is also rewarding to watch with the nice-looking credits and jokes.

If you’re playing it for the co-op though, you’ll be in for a surprise. All levels are cleverly designed to use your cooperation without making it too stressful with the timing and execution. You’ll also have a lot of laughs when you or your partner die in the levels, either on purpose or by accident. Don’t worry, “accidents” happen!

Leave a comment

Recent Posts

Archived Reviews