Portal 2 Review

Apr 26, 2011

Having recently completed Portal 2, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the experience. As usual, I played it through on the PC, so my review comes from that vantage point. I have yet to try the co-op portion of the game, so my thoughts are limited to the single player experience.

The Good

As usual, the writing from Valve is top notch. The dialogue in Portal 2 is really funny and Stephen Merchant is outstanding as Wheatley, the personality core. If for no other reason, you should purchase this game for the hilarity alone.
The Story Arc
Though I found the overall story a little predictable, the execution is well done. Lots of back-story on Aperture Science and GLaDOS is uncovered, providing some really neat "aha" moments.
New Puzzle Elements
Several new puzzle elements have been added to the mix including light bridges, lasers, and various forms of physics paint (the latter of which I found really entertaining). These all added interesting twists to how you ended up using your portals.
Look and Sound
The graphics and sound in the game are stellar, as usual. I really felt like a part of the world while playing through the game.

The Bad

Load screens are way too frequent in this title. This is a problem Valve needs to solve first and foremost for their next game. Each of their games has always been heavy on load screens, but this was ridiculous. I'm guessing this was a limitation forced on them by the gaming consoles which they support.
Valve has always delivered top-notch PC experiences, but here the console-itis bleeds through. The menu system is clearly designed for console controllers, and game engine options were surprisingly anemic. Very frustrating.
Too Short (Again)
The first Portal suffered from an incredibly short gameplay experience, and Portal 2 sadly has the same problem. I finished the game in about 6 hours, which is pitiful compared to the 20 or 30 hours or so it took me to play through Half-Life 2 the first time. My hope was that this game would have been much longer.
Single Solution Puzzles
Most, if not all, of the puzzles in the game have essentially one single solution. Portal allowed the player to come up with various solutions to the game's puzzles; but here, each puzzle is designed with one solution in mind, which was a letdown.

Gripes aside, this is a game everyone should play. It's a whirlwind of good game design, with hilarious writing all the way through. I give it a solid 4 stars.

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