Portal 2 for the PS3

I’m not getting any younger.  I know this because I recently had my 41st birthday.  My lovely, loving wife indulged me and purchased several games for the PS3, one of them being Portal 2.

I hadn’t played the original Portal yet, but understood the mechanics (having played several 2D flash ripoff games).  Portal was originally sold as part of the The Orange Box, which contained two four other games (two of which were mentioned in smaller print on the box cover and had been released previously by themselves).  I’ve heard somewhere that one of the reasons why it wasn’t originally sold by itself was because the developers weren’t sure it would be long enough to stand on its own as a game.  More on that later.  Thing is, any geek who hasn’t had a chance to play the original Portal must have been living under a rock not to have at least heard about the game, usually as part of some joke (which usually isn’t a function of the game or its mechanics, but rather the comments made by the principle AI, GlaDOS, as you travel through the game).  In my experience the same cannot always be said of the other two four games that were released as part of The Orange Box.

Before discussing the story/plot line, let’s discuss game mechanics.  What you end up with eventually is a gun … but not just any gun.  It’s a Portal gun.  Portal guns, when fired at certain surfaces (usually flat and white) open a portal on the wall.  On the typical game controller, there are at least two buttons, so one button fires a portal of one color, and the other button will open a portal of a different color.  Once the two portals exist, they are connected.  Going into one portal will have you coming out of the other.  In addition, momentum is retained; if you fall from some height into one portal, the velocity you enter is the velocity at which you exit the other portal.  This is handy, as it can help you travel great distances in the process.

So the game is designed such that there are puzzles that require you to utilize portals to solve.

Your main antagonist in both games is an AI that is in control of a large facility … though, not always the same AI.  You play the same character in both games, but the games are set many decades apart (apparently).  Your end goal?  Escape the facility, which just happens to require the elimination of an AI entity in the process.

In the Portal 2 (which is somewhat longer than the first … but more on that in a minute) you have a large portion of the back story of the company/facility filled in for you, as you travel to areas of the facility that had been closed down over 50 years before the first Portal.  There was a personal “Ah ha!” moment when, after having watched a Science Channel show on a particular topic recently, I was wondering how the facility could be so large yet completely underground … and then while in-game I stumbled upon a newspaper clipping/plaque that gave a valid reason for the facilities expansiveness that tied in with the show I had seen.

The writing for the AI (and recorded) characters is quite good – well thought out and very funny.  The tests can be challenging (and yes, in a couple of cases I had to cheat via Google to figure a particular puzzle out).  There’s only one drawback …

If I recall correctly, the game ran at least $40.  While it might be worth that in entertainment value, and if you have someone to play the two player version with to extend your enjoyment, speaking from the perspective of playing the single player game only … I was done with the game in a weekend.  In that respect, I might debate the dollar value of the game.  It’s worth noting that the original Portal did not have a two player option.

But, if you’ve got a buddy (especially one nearby that can play sitting next to you, though Internet play is an option), Portal 2 might just be worth the money for you.

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