" Portal 2 is fun. Damned fun. Addictively fun. And filled with several hours of mind-bending goodness. "
Title: Portal 2 by EA
Format: Xbox Puzzle Shooter
Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters
For those who may have missed it, the first Portal was a novel little add-on to the Half-Life 2 Orange Box that earned critical success and ended up developing a massive fan-base. In it players took on the role of an unnamed test subject who was put into a series of increasingly difficult puzzle-based rooms where the only way to survive was through the use of a both simple and innovative little device that was essentially a portal gun. With the gun players could shoot two portals, one yellow, one blue, that were perpetually connected through the magic of space-time. This meant that, no matter where you shot them, if you went through one you'd come out the other--subject to the same physics that were in place when you went into the first one.
So, in other words, if you shot one portal at the bottom of a deep pit and the other high up on a wall, and jumped down into the pit and fell through the portal at the bottom, you'd shoot out of the wall at the same speed you were falling.
Your job, then, was to use that clever little device to overcome all manner of obstacles: walls, crevasse, sentry-turret drones, laser barriers, acid...you name it, you had to beat it with nothing but your wits and the portal gun. And your reward for defeating one room's "tests" was being dumped into an even harder test room.
Portal 2, then, is functionally more of the same: you are again a test subject, again trying to escape test after test, and again left with little more than the portal gun to try and solve the puzzles with. This time the puzzles are smarter, typically far better thought- out, and frequently require less coordination to defeat...though, beyond that and a few other small exceptions, the gameplay is basically the same--which is in no-way a bad thing.
Portal 2 is fun. Damned fun. Addictively fun. And filled with several hours of mind-bending goodness. It also includes a cute, though not riveting, story and--for the first time in the franchise's history--a cooperative mode that requires you and a buddy to solve team-based puzzles together.
In short, if you enjoyed the first one, you will unquestionably enjoy this one as well. If you didn't play the first one, but like puzzle games and think the commercials and gameplay footage look like fun, you will almost certainly have fun with it.
My primary complaint--indeed, pretty much my only complaint--with Portal 2, however, is that it doesn't quite feel like a full $60 game on its own. Essentially providing little more than a bunch of new puzzles, and using the same very dated graphics, it seemed to us like Portal 2 could've just as easily been a $40 retail title, or even $20-30 DLC...and charging full price for it feels a bit like EA's taking us to the wash.