Portal 2 -- the game is launched!
The original Portal was a magnificent work of genius and a surprising innovation. With it, Valve invented a completely new type of game -- a first-person shooter engine with a "portal" mechanic that nobody has ever tried before -- it was fresh and addictive, witty and funny, and it developed a cult following. A lot of people out there will understand what I mean if I exclaim that "the cake is a lie".
Portal 2 continues the original story and takes the concept to a new level! And, wow, this is yet another masterpiece from Valve, who have yet to release a game that is not game-of-the-year material! Most gamers like first-person shooters, and this game appeals that audience; but solving the puzzles in Portal 2 requires much more intelligence and problem-solving ability than any other game! You know when you've mastered the concept of portals, because you actually start thinking differently, e.g. in terms of spacial-awareness and movement -- it's a different way of thinking. I've finished the game, so I'll share my thoughts for the record and the benefit of anybody who's interested. The gameplay is entertaining while being very challenging at times. Co-op mode is brilliant, a whole new game made for teamwork between two players and entirely consistent with the solo story (I won't spoil it here). Interestingly, the entire co-op game can be completed by one person with two controllers -- demonstrating that all you need is two portals, skillful coordination, and of course problem-solving skills. The co-op experience includes puzzles more difficult than the solo game. (There are five co-op courses each consisting of several levels or maps, and in most courses there was a puzzle that really made me think, indeed in places I found the solution empirically, entirely by trial and error -- so much so that I'd really have to start again from scratch if I did the same map again!)
On Xbox 360 the game is flawless, and that remains my preferred platform (I like to pull a trigger), and on a good PC you can get even finer detail, higher resolution, more precise physics with more calculations and formulae closer to real-life, and even 3D! I can imagine that the depth when looking into a portal or accross a vast map would be stunning in 3D! (I need a new laptop and the prospect of Portal 2 in 3D as well as 3D movies tempts me to buy a Dell XPS or Alienware M17x -- high-end laptops with 3D screen!)
If you haven't played Portal 2 yet, there are some impressive videos and screenshots on the Portal 2 page in Xbox Live Marketplace -- if these don't intrigue you, nothing will! Also, check out the official Portal website. There's a cool little Silverlight app on Xbox.com showcasing video clips promoting the game -- it's so good I had to have it on this page, even though there's no official option to do (just copy and paste the HTML from here if you want to do the same).
Videos and trailers
Portal 1, was first released as part of the Orange Box collection of games, arguably the best value bundle of games ever released! (I speak with some authority on this topic -- I've acquired all Achievements in Orange Box, including Portal.) Recently, A stand-alone version of Portal can be downloaded directly from Xbox Live Marketplace, where it was recently released as an on-demand game in Xbox Live Arcade.
20 April 2011