Review: Portal 2

In a bit of a departure, I’m going to review a video game. Portal 2 which hit store shelves this week is the follow up to the sleeper hit Portal, and I can say that it is the most engaging video game that you’ll play. It’s a first person shooter that requires you to solve puzzles using a “portal gun” which can create inter-spatial portals between flat planes. The laws of physics come into play as well as the requirement to reason through problems rather than simply shoot things using knowledge gained from your high school physics class. I hope you paid attention. There’s a single player mode where you play Chell who returns from the original Portal to fight the sociopath computer GLaDOS, and a multi-player mode where you and a friend play two robots named Atlas and P-body who are basically under the control of GLaDOS and must work together to complete each level using their own individual portal guns. I won’t give away any more plot elements than that. But I will say that there are many plot twists which will keep you on edge while you play.

The graphics and sound in this game are absolutely stunning (I’ll note that I played on MacOS X, but versions are available for Windows, Xbox 360, and PS3). But that isn’t what is going to keep you interested. The puzzles are difficult, but not so hard that it will make you put down the game. The dialog and comedic elements from GlaDOS and the other characters that you interact with is stellar. In fact, those of you with more twisted senses of humor will be spending more time laughing than playing. The only negative that I will mention is that it took me 11 hours of total game play to get through the single player version of the game. A bit short considering the MacOS X sells for $49.

Bottom line. If you want a first person shooter that is more cerebral than the Call Of Duty franchise, check out Portal 2. In fact, grab the original Portal and play it first. You’ll be thanking me.

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