The RPS Verdict: Portal 2

By RPS on April 28th, 2011 at 3:41 pm.


The RPS collective (and Kieron Gillen) convened to discuss Portal 2. What did we make of Valve’s puzzle palace? And was it really the funniest game of all time? Read on for answers. (Mild spoilers!)

Jim: Portal 2: The sequel to the first person puzzler Portal. It’s Valve’s first full length game since Half-Life 2! That is an exciting thing, if ever I heard one.
Quintin: And their best single-player game ever, according to John’s interview.
Jim: So according to them. Do we agree?

John: I prefer Episode 2.
Quintin: I prefer Half-Life 2.
Jim: I also prefer Half-Life 2.
Quintin: It’s decided, then. They’re WRONG.
Jim: So wrong.
Kieron: I don’t, but I never liked Half-Life 2 as much as everyone else.
Alec: I prefer Half-Life 1
Jim: So you think it’s their best single player game ever, KG?
Kieron: It’s funny how a dev being vaguely positive immediately puts this off on a negative footing.
John: We’re saying how other things are even more brilliant. Nothing negative here.
Kieron: I think it’s on par with HL2. And Portal, for that matter.
Jim: Indeed. I don’t think it’s disparaging to say it’s less good than something that might be best ever.
Kieron: Try that with your missus when she asks “Was your ex better in bed than me?”
Alec: It’s the best of the nu-Valve games, for my money. I.e. the Wolpaw/Falisek/Jeep/comedy-Valve era.
Quintin: I think it’s their funniest game ever. To me, that’s the achievement here.
John: Definitely. It’s one of THE funniest games.
Quintin: I haven’t laughed at a game this much since playing Monkey Island when I was a tiny manbaby. It’s true! I remember laughing at a lot of things as a kid, mind. Mirrors. Bees. Before reality set in.
John: And Monkey Island isn’t that funny.
Kieron: I’m actually sitting here trying to decide whether I think it’s their funniest game ever or not. I think its writing is better, but I actually laughed more at Portal 1. I was thinking it was going to walk it in the first hour, but it sort of evened out.
Alec: It’s not as funny as Limbo of the Lost. I was thinking earlier about how’s it a full-length game without actual characters, just voices and architecture. And that’s far more character than most any other game of the last few years.
Quintin: How do you mean?
John: Apart from Wheatley, GLaDOS, Cave Johnson and Chell?
Quintin: (And the turrets)
Alec: No people, I mean, no-one you really interact with. You just watch and listen.
Quintin: The turrets!
Alec: It’s all in the voices and scenery.
Jim: I laughed quite a bit up front, but it faded. I think the laughs got less and less as the game went on. The first hour or two were packed.
Alec: C’mon, the Cave Johnson stuff was excellent.

John: Apart from the biggest laugh in the final scene, shurely?
Quintin: Funny you say that. I laughed more in the closing few minutes than anywhere else in the game.
Kieron: The problem with the longer game, for me was that the comedy tends to be – I don’t want to say “formulaic”, but *ritualistic*. You enter a level. You get a bit of gibber from whoever is tormenting you. Silence for a few minutes as you complete the level. Get the call back gag. When it settles into that rhythm – and it rarely moves from it – it detracts from the generally top class writing.
Quintin: But that was the first Portal. It’s much less the case with this.
Alec: Yeah, I’m really noticing that with SpudOS. She’s conveniently quiet most of the time despite being right next to you.
Kieron: This game is twice as long. And doing it *again* is the problem. Portal got away with the ritualism of it by being the new.
Quintin: And half of it exists outside that formula!
Kieron: No, it doesn’t.
Jim: Even the rooms that seem to be between puzzles are still puzzles.
Kieron: There’s one bit in teh co-op when glados says something mid-level and I could have hugged my screen.
Alec: I love the bit early in single where you do meet Wheatley mid-level.
Quintin: That’s perfect, yeah.
Alec: but he’s up in the rafters and you can only reach him from one of the jump-pads. so he’s wittering away but you only get every other line. Made it feel much more alive.
Kieron: That’s lovely.
Jim: Yeah there are some really excellent touches like that. The incidental detail is impossibly lavish.
Alec: The robo-arms rearranging the panels are massively charming too. Especially when apparently broken ones sputter to life and tiredly haul a piece of wall across the floor.
Kieron: But that the exceptions work so well is why it nags at me – and why I think the writing isn’t presented at its best. The detail is loving, however.
Jim: Yes, there’s some bits where the architecture is tidying itself up that is amazing. Floors pouring broken panels down into the ground, and so forth.
Alec: It’s a remarkable looking game, it really is. Again, the lack of visible characters thing – that’s to its benefit. You don’t have the issue of seeing an unconvincing human face, just vast, incredible architecture unspoiled.
Kieron: Absolutely. That’s my impression. I’m picking at what I don’t like because I’m not sure it’s a classic. If I was EGing, I’d 9/10 it. And a low 9/10 at that.
Quintin: The anthropomorphisation of the robots is all beautiful. One of my top three moments was the part where you’re running across the conveyor belt that carries defective turrets to their doom. And you have the chance to grab one and carry it off to safety, at which point it starts spouting biblical gibberish.
Kieron: I did find myself thinking “I wonder what Pixar make of Valve”, not in a “RIP OFF OF WALL-E!” way, but in a “I think they’d dig this”
Jim: I found it almost too lonely and claustrophobic, actually. I wanted to see another person, or go outside. Which, of course…
Quintin: Which is why the ending… well, we’ll get to the ending.
John: The way you keep seeing glimpses of sky is really good at provoking that, though.
Alec: did everyone else get that fake escape from GlaDOS near the start? Where you see the door with trees outside then she gasses you?
Kieron: I… did actually. Though I think I fucked it up in a different way.
Jim: Anyway, the mechanical bit – gels and such: any thoughts?

John: As I said in my review, I think they were the weakest point. Not because they weren’t well implemented, but because they changed the puzzle design. In the first Portal, and for much of Portal 2, you feel as though you’re improvising. During the gel sequences I felt as though I was finding the correct solution. That said, I can see that with Portal 2 generally – it does feel like a solution rather than a problem game, if you see what I mean. I liked them, but just in a “Here is a puzzle element” way. To me, you may as well talk about jumpads. It’s all part of how it works. I did think the were extraordinarily beautiful though.
Jim: The sense of the puzzle design in the original was that it careful escalated in complexity using just a few different elements. Whereas Portal 2 felt like the puzzles never actually rose to the complexity suggested by the all the constituent elements. Just that there were a lot of them.
Alec: I had some beautiful moments with the gels, where i wasn’t sure what to do but suddenly a certain arrangement of randomly fired portals caused a spray of orange or whatever and I had the eureka moment. But yes, it was dependent on only very specific pieces of wall being portalable.
Quintin: Jim: agreed. I’d level the same criticism that I had of World of Goo. Consistently introducing new elements without ever giving me a puzzle crunchy enough.
Kieron: To state the obvious, that’s how they turn it into an eight-hour game. As in, they can’t just make it harder and – perhaps inevitably – more twitchy.
Alec: There was less use of the physics-twisting acceleration jumps this time around, I found.
Kieron: Yeah – that’s a good example of what I’m talking about.
Quintin: Why can’t they make it harder?
Kieron: Because they’re a mainstream developer working for a mass audience and they like people to complete their games.
Jim: Right, but that does not mean that the puzzles couldn’t have used all those elements in a more interesting way – as John said, it felt very much like ticking off the correct solution each time. Games like, say, Incredible Machines or Armadillo Run actually do similar stuff, but the solutions are often a bodge. There was no bodge here and that felt dry.
Kieron: They avoided physics drops because it’s a physical test as well as a thinking test. So replaced them with jumpads to mechanise the acceleration process, etc.
Jim: Yes.
John: The loss of acceleration jumps was deliberate. The first game overused them, and this game kept teasing you: yes, you could propel across this one, but how are you going to get there without?
Alec: Of course, they may do more hardcore DLC level packs.
Kieron: To stress, I’m not saying it’s a bad or a good thing – but it’s just where the games’ preferences now lie.
Jim: I think there were only 2 moments that challenged any kind of aim, which was a bit of a shame.
Alec: It’s almost more of an adventure than a collection of puzzles this time around. Which I actually prefer – the sense of wonder and exploration rather than worrying I’m going to hit something I’m too dumb to figure out.
Kieron: Agreed. Jim though – can you elaborate on “right, but that does not mean that the puzzles couldn’t have used all those elements in a more interesting way.”

Jim: Essentially, the original game’s puzzles became increasingly complex systems of using the different elements that you had previously encountered, but Portal 2 seemed to have “this room has lasers in” or “this room has this gel in” and there were few more grand puzzle solving situations with multiple elements. Or, indeed, as I mentioned, any level of bodging or improvisation. Maybe I am attuned to breaking games, but I got most excited when I thought I found a bug in something, but really I hadn’t…
Kieron: I’ll agree with that being more of an adventure – but for me, it’s a weakness. Portal Gun stuff just falls apart in real environments for me a bit, because it turns the game into Locked Door. By which I mean “there is one surface you can attach stuff too, and all these other surfaces won’t work”. So it becomes primarily a game about observation. (Or rather, I only got stuck when I failed an observation test) (Which saps fun from it, for me.)
John: I’m really surprised how negative people are. I found the chambers toward the end to be these elaborate multi-stage puzzles that required using all the skills I’d learned. And I got to feel like a pro as I executed them.
Jim: No, I didn’t feel like that this time. I certainly did in Portal 1.
Quintin: Mm. There were definitely a few chambers that felt incredibly rewarding, but by and large, it’s like Kieron said. This is very much a game which anybody meant to be able to go bounding through.
Alec: It would have been nice to have some rooms where you could spray gel everywhere and just dick around with the physics, admittedly.
John: But isn’t it great to have a game you can go bounding through?
Alec: John – agreed. I do like just having a giddy old time, and I had been very worried it would become overly complex. I am, however, quite convinced this is not the end of Portal 2.
Jim: Co-op then: wow, that feels fresh. I was actually a little tired of the single-player by the end. But the co-op is something else. It’s where this game really makes ground, for me. Little things, like the pointing, are so obvious, so *designed*, that it’s a really big deal. I get that point about Valve not doing an isolated single-player game again in the future because, well, they’d rather be working on something like that. And understandably so.
Kieron: It’s exquisitely designed, I’ll give it that. As in, always Valves’ stronger cards.
Quintin: That sounds like another Gillen caveat coming up.
Kieron: And it brings back the new which the SP kinda lacks. No, the cadvaet is more personal, and a problem with me. In that for this sort of game, the joy of co-op comes with a lot of frustration. I played through with Gril – who is smarter than I am – and I still found myself growling a lot at slight errors and delays. And more annoyed with my own.
John: I too don’t enjoy co-op, because it’s not how I want to play games. I want to be relying on myself, and not have someone else relying on me.
Kieron: In short; I’m simply not that interested in solving a Rubik’s cube with someone else. I’m fine with co-op generally – it’s specifically this sort of game. And the bits where it all flow put a great smile on my face.
Jim: Well I think you are weak-minded sociopaths. I’ve found the co-op to be instinctive and brilliant. I could play that kind of game forever.
Quintin: That was exactly my experience, too. Any moment my partner was lagging behind my solution, I was annoyed. The moment I was lagging behind, I was annoyed.
Kieron: Instinctive is fine. I just want to make progress and when your friend is slowing down by doing a funny mime annoys me.
Jim: I found the SP lonely and flat by comparison.
Kieron: I also found the SP a bit lonely at times, but for completely different reasons, as I previously said.
Quintin: The SP’s loneliness is an intrinsic part of the plot, surely.
Kieron: Gril is totally more patient than me, bless him. There was a bit near the end where I was just fucking up in a terrible style. Hail Gril.
John: I never felt lonely. I was always accompanied by someone. And it was certainly less lonely than your average FPS.
Jim: What I said after Portal, repeatedly, was that I hoped this kind of first-person puzzle solving would find its way into a lot of other mainstream games. It hasn’t. So I will now say: I don’t expect co-op puzzle solving to appear in any game, ever again. That’s it.
Kieron: Yeah. It stayed indie. The Ball! :)
Jim: There’s The Ball and also Twin Sector, and probably something else, but STILL.
Kieron: Yeah. Still. But it’s only a good thing that Portal 2 looks like a massive cross format hit. It’s only going to lead to more light being in the world.
Quintin: Are you sure? It’s not like Bioshock lead to anything except Singularity. Bless you, Singularity.
John: This has been madly negative for a game no one would give less than a 9 to. Let’s say some positive things.
Jim: The co-op is my game design thing of the year. It’s amazing. I also liked the jokes.
Kieron: Yeah.

Quintin: I failed to defeat the final boss on my first attempt because I was laughing too hard. My jaw was legitimately dropped on more than one occasion.
Kieron: The biggest problem the game has is it is – to steal a line from a forum – expectedly good. It’s as good as I thought it would be.
Quintin: I haven’t enjoyed a game this much all year. Except Ace of Spades.
Kieron: And my minor complaints are really along the line of “Oh God. Another orgasm?”
John: It’s the funniest game in forever, warm and smart, with such extraordinary detail and acting. And the ending – that final boss fight – is such an *intelligent* thing. The way it sort of breaks down what was wrong with the GLaDOS fight in Portal 1, and messes with expectations, and of course THAT moment.
Jim: Actually that’s a good point – another good game ending to add to the tiny list of good game endings
John: For someone who hates boss fights as much as I do, it was pure joy.
Kieron: Yeah. I was dreading the ending when I saw someone talking about a cliffhanger, but it was lovely. And just proves some people have no fucking idea what a cliffhanger is.
John: The end of the co-op is a cliffhanger, in fairness.
Jim: I feel “cliffhanger” should only refer to a situation in which you are literally hanging off a cliff at the end.
Quintin: Gril was complaining about it in the pub. I could have eaten him whole.
Jim: Perhaps you should have done. That would have gone down in legend, Q.
Quintin: Next time, Jim. Next time.
Kieron: I have to ask: what was Gril’s problem with it?
Quintin: We didn’t get past him calling everything relating to the “Lunacy” achievement stupid. With any luck he’ll show up in the comments and explain his position. And then I will eat him. Because I haven’t been that surprised by a game in a long time.
Alec: Basically – it’s the first Valve game I’ve loved since the Orange Box. I’ve felt like something was seriously missing in the L4Ds and in TF2′s strange transformation into a collection and hardcore multiplayer game and while Portal 2 may be a bit more handheld than expected it’s just such a joy to have a Valve game that makes me feel the same excitement and joy as I expect Valve games to. As well as the proof that a game largely without death and violence and hulking men can be a serious mainstream hit.
Jim: I would recommend that people buy this game, and play it.
Kieron: Actually, one minor thing if anyone’s read John’s review. Which some of you probably have. His complaint that he didn’t like the puzzles which made you think you’d made it and you haven’t? That added the best part of an hour to my playtime, I suspect, as when I just missed something I presumed it was the bit John was talking about and looked for another solution. And in fact, every time, I’d just missed because I’d miss-stepped.
Jim: I did the same, actually.
John: Heh.
Kieron: And there was no point in the game where I just fell short and hadn’t got the solution right. YOU BASTARD JOHN!
John: My pleasure.
Jim: Yes, John. You made the game harder.
Kieron: You are my pretty little Glados.
John: It’s not my fault you’re all idiots.

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186 Comments »

  1. fallingmagpie says:

    ARE THERE SPOILERS HERE!?

    Please tell me. I like reading about Portal 2 but I can’t play it yet. Sadface.

    • WhenInRome says:

      Minor spoilers. If you haven’t played it, best to not read it.

    • Turbo says:

      A couple of the screenshots have a pretty major spoiler in them.

    • Dozer says:

      Now I know what was censored in the review screenshots!

      I bought the game on X-Box for my little Australian brother, who happily told me straight after playing coop “They turned GlaDOS into a &&&&&&&&&!” If he wasn’t eighteen thousand miles away I could have strangled him…

    • squareking says:

      Yeah, I peeked in a bit and regret seeing what can’t be unseen. I guess I’ll have to pick it up now.

    • Premium User Badge TheTourist314 says:

      My Australian little brother hasn’t come in the mail yet.

    • Dhatz says:

      oh did you forget to use brain while viewing the screens? all of em are spoilerous, but the text not so, it doesnt tell you specifics about the ending and only hints there is some intentionaly fake stuff. I only wish the coop didnt require to use steam for pirates.

  2. colinmarc says:

    Haha, my reaction reading halfway through this was “stop being so meeaaannnnn!” This game absolutely just made me happy in every way, and I want to marry it.

    • Premium User Badge AtkinsSJ says:

      Yeah, I enjoyed it all immensely. :D

      I think there’s definitely a link between being a games journalist and having higher expectations for games. Though I agree that the puzzles never seemed to have everything tied together in one mega-puzzle, which would have been nice. Co-op was brilliant in that it did tend to mix things together more.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Here be some spoilers. It’s a verdict thread, after all.
      I repeatedly failed the ending because I let the clock run out listening to dialogue.

      The game, having run beautifully up until this point, gave me audio pops and clicks during the outro. And don’t try to press escape to get to the options for this since it’s an exceptional case where it will instead skip ahead. Very unfortunate bungle, there, Valve.

      Also, GLaDOS is far, far better company than that annoying Alyx woman.

  3. Foosnark says:

    I loved the fact that there was very little mouse gymnastics or sniper-like aim while tumbling through the air in Portal 2. Those were what frustrated me the most about the first game. I’d rather think and put stuff together, and fail occasionally in hilarious ways, than know exactly what to do and have trouble with it because I’m a klutz.

    I started playing the single-player game late one night. My wife, who had been playing it when I got home from work, stopped so she could watch me and appreciate the detail and the humor without worrying about controlling it. I think if I hadn’t had to work the next day we’d have gone through the game in one fabulous sitting. No way did I ever get tired of it or bored, and I loved that it didn’t seem to have much repetition other than the training-by-doing aspect of it.

    I thought the whole Lunacy thing was ridiculous and stupid, but admittedly had a certain internal logic. And it was funny, in the same stupid way that Miami Shark is funny.

  4. Jamesworkshop says:

    Been a surprise, but I have only seen one other person on the net so far that has mentioned the boring exploration behind the test chambers, how many catwalks did we W + Spacebar along during this game

    • Rii says:

      I’d agree with this. It would be different if there was actually a sense of place to it all, but there isn’t. The facility is about as architecturally credible as your average Star Wars set, complete with bottomless pits.

    • skinlo says:

      Behind the scenes is the best part!

    • subedii says:

      Yeah but that’s what makes the Aperture labs so cool. They don’t make any reasonable sense, they were massive monstrosities of nonsense. The completely out-there architectural design is what you’d expect of a megalomaniacal AI and the ever grandiose ideas of Cave Johnson. CJ’s ideas never made sense, they were just big and crazy. Fits in well with things like the gigantic testing spheres and how Aperture is basically an enormous facility built upon decades and decades of sealed off layers as they moved from one period to the next.

      I guess that the thing. I’m never really going to complain that Star Wars setting had those huge death drops and settings that make no real sense, I just know they were fun to see and play through. The Jedi Knight games used to love that sort of scale in their levels. It really helped give the multiplayer maps a unique look and feel when playing them.

    • FD says:

      The lack of criticism of the behind the scenes stuff has been surprising to me too, a lot of them felt like old adventure game, picky pixel affairs. When I think back on it really the only places I got stuck were on those trying to find the one surface to portal onto.

      Thematically and visually it works well, from a puzzle perspective much less so.

    • Premium User Badge TheTourist314 says:

      It just occurred to me, reading this blob of text, that the guts of Aperture Science and a lot of the inner guts of HL2′s Citadel look kind of alike.

    • JackShandy says:

      “It would be different if there was actually a sense of place to it all, but there isn’t. The facility is about as architecturally credible as your average Star Wars set, complete with bottomless pits.”

      A space doesn’t need to be architecturably credible to have a great sense of place. See: Bioshock. Also see: Every single game, seeing as they all have to warp their architecture in unfeasable ways to suit the gameplay. Portal 2 had a wonderful sense of place.

    • passingstranger says:

      I wouldn’t agree, Rii. I think the design is intentionally absurd and explained well enough in the fiction of the universe. Aperture, despite having made such amazing things, is often comically inept at even basic tasks. The repulsion gel, for example, is a repurposed dietary aid. The design, especially of the middle section, reflects that wastefulness and lack of foresight or concern for human safety.

  5. drewski says:

    Fantastic but only as fantastic as everyone was expecting, then.

  6. misterk says:

    Damn it, no optimus prime thumbs! Why no thumbs? Whyyyyyy?

    • Tei says:

      Thumbs are not useful here. No one is going to give less than a 9/10 here.

    • misterk says:

      I don’t care damnit, I demand thumbs. How can I possibly tell if everyone liked the game or not without a binary up or down?

    • jonfitt says:

      No thumbs, because the thumbs were being used to create a metacritic score thusly:
      70 + 30 * (number of thumbs-up)/(number of thumbs total).

      So they had to be removed to preserve integrity/sanity.

    • Srethron says:

      9 out of 10 thumbs on the Richter Scale!

  7. Pijama says:

    Wait, John went from the incompetent healer to little cute villain?

  8. myca77 says:

    I really enjoyed the single player, but I had to use a crack to play it, as I’m one of a small few (I hope) who bought the game only to find it broken, yet using the crack fixed the issues. Still no fix, and it’s been the first time I’ve had to use Steams support, MY GOD they are useless, a week for a reply, and all the suggestions the rep gave me were things I’d told him I had already tried.
    I really want to play the co-op, but then so do some of my mates on the PS3.
    Damn you Sony for being idiots with the personal info of 77 million people, including me!
    Also my only slight complaint about the single player is that it seems that all of the puzzles only had one way to solve them, whereas the original seemd to allow more freedom in the way you solved the puzzles. I also missed the larger multi-room test chambers from the original, as again it seems like in the sequel each puzzle was a small completely isolated room where only one outcome would solve it.
    Still, in comparison to most games I’ve played in the past few years it was fantastic. I loved the voice acting, the music, the art design, almost everything. The admiration I have for what Valve have done with this game is only marred by the fact that for me personally I can still find no fault in the original, whereas this has a few minor niggles that in any other game I would probably completely overlook.

  9. The_B says:

    I think the difficulty comments intrigue me somewhat. I had only really a few minor problems myself and thought the difficulty was about right, I was never stuck for too long but at the same time I did feel really clever during some of the later tests when I did figure it out. It was only one of the very last co-op chambers that stumped me (and my brother who I was co-oping with) for the best part of an hour, and I was on the verge of giving up until I had a eureka moment.

    However, I’ve seen a fair few people say it was too easy – but then this week I’ve had a heck of a lot more people bemoaning how hard it was. I must’ve had at least three our four friends asking me for specific help on certain puzzles, and many more on my Twitter feed saying how frustrated the game was making them. I wonder then, what the distinction is – what made it almost too hard for some, but too easy to others? I could see no correlation in these two sets of people, people who didn’t play a lot of games and those that did featured in both camps frequently enough.

    • trjp says:

      Single-player Portal2 is DEFINATELY easier than SP Portal1 – some of the trickier concepts in Portal 1 have been removed entirely – such as…
      Needing to jump into Portals from moving platforms/the edge of endless drops
      Needing to time Portals for moving objects
      Needing to shoot Portals on the move to build up momentum
      Needing to ‘loopback’ Portals to get to otherwise impossible locations.
      Portal 2 essentially uses Portals as ‘ways to get from A to B” and other mechanics (gel, light bridges) to fill in the gaps in that process – MUCH less co-ordination required – making most puzzles easier.
      Once you get your head around each mechanic, there’s really not a lot of difficulty in P2 – wheras returning to P1 for the nth time I still have to polish-up my timing and co-ordination skills to get through the SP – and the Challenges are another thing entirely…

      p.s. were I paranoid I might suggest the changes relate to the considerably inferior control offered by a pad…

    • qrter says:

      I liked that they moved away from ‘twitch’-based puzzles, now it felt more like setting up a strategy, moving all the bits and pieces into place and then hitting GO!

      I had a couple of puzzles that seemingly stumped me, and it would almost inevitably be because of what Kieron mentions, failing to notice some part of the scenery I was supposed to be using. That did cause some frustration.

      I did find myself thinking how some kind of hint system would’ve been nice, now and then, but I’m guessing that would be pretty hard (if not impossible) to implement for something like Portal 2.

    • Premium User Badge shoptroll says:

      Agreed with trjp. The difficulty ramps up in the similar manner, but it never reaches the complexity of the later chambers in Portal 1. I recall they commented on that during interviews prior to release about people getting stuck on a specific puzzle and a large number of people never finished the game. So it’s not surprising.

      I think they’re expecting the mod community to provide harder levels. Maybe they’ll make some harder puzzles via DLC?

    • jealouspirate says:

      @trjp

      Most of those difficult things removed really have nothing to do with puzzles, though. They tested your reflexes, not your brain. Portal 1 may have been more challenging, but the puzzles themselves weren’t more complex. Just harder to execute. I think Portal 2′s focus on figuring things out instead of twitchy gameplay is an improvement.

      Also, considering Portal 1 was also on consoles I’d say your statement about dumbing down Portal 2 for consoles makes no sense.

    • subedii says:

      Personally I don’t really remember ever being stumped in Portal 1. But there were a few occasions in Portal 2 where I was thoroughly stumped and at one point pretty close to just looking up the answer. Glad I didn’t though.

      I have to agree with the sentiment that I don’t feel the puzzles are dumber at all. They just took more of the reflex stuff out of them, which to me makes sense.

      Regardless though, if you want more complex puzzles and even some more reflex stuff, the coop campaign has that covered.

    • trjp says:

      Portal1 was a latecomer to consoles and I’m pretty sure they changed some of the test chambers (tho I only played the console version once and I may be imagining that).

      I actually like the kinetic element in P1′s puzzles – there are a million ‘set it up and make it go’ puzzle games out there but few are First Person which, I think, should mean your movement is a part of the puzzle (otherwise it may as well be 2D Flash!!)

      Overall, I think P1 had better pacing than P2 – there are times in P2 where I was thinking “OK – I’ve had enough of doing this now” which almost never happened in P1 because every puzzle (certainly from TC13 onwards) needed your undivided attention.

      I was mildly disappointed when I completed P2 really – I wanted to be challenged a bit more – I really DON’T want the challenge to come from having to rely on someone else in co-op or community puzzles (or pay-for DLC!)

    • subedii says:

      Personally I don’t really remember ever being stumped in Portal 1. But there were a few occasions in Portal 2 where I was thoroughly stumped and at one point pretty close to just looking up the answer. Glad I didn’t though.

      I have to agree with the sentiment that I don’t feel the puzzles are dumber at all. They just took more of the reflex stuff out of them, which to me makes sense.

      Though if you want more complex puzzles and even some more reflex stuff, the coop campaign has that covered fairly well I felt.

      And for some reason my post isn’t showing, so hopefully adding this line in will fix that?

    • subedii says:

      For some reason the comments system keeps eating my comments

      Personally I don’t really remember ever being stumped in Portal 1. But there were a few occasions in Portal 2 where I was thoroughly stumped and at one point pretty close to just looking up the answer. Glad I didn’t though.

      I have to agree with the sentiment that I don’t feel the puzzles are dumber at all. They just took more of the reflex stuff out of them, which to me makes sense.

      Though if you want more complex puzzles and even some more reflex stuff, the coop campaign has that covered fairly well I felt.

      And for some reason my post isn’t showing, so hopefully adding this additional line in will fix that?

    • jealouspirate says:

      @trjp

      Portal 1 came to consoles the exact same day it came to PC, on October 9th 2007 as part of the Orange Box. The console version is also the same as the PC version.

    • Jahkaivah says:

      “Most of those difficult things removed really have nothing to do with puzzles, though. They tested your reflexes, not your brain. Portal 1 may have been more challenging, but the puzzles themselves weren’t more complex. Just harder to execute. I think Portal 2′s focus on figuring things out instead of twitchy gameplay is an improvement.”

      This.

      Portal was supposed to be a puzzle game. By that extent Portal 2 was harder.

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      Difficulty being lacking struck me as well. not in the sence of technical skill but more that certain elements never got combined, (speed gel + Hard light bridges easily comes to mind) it never fully pulls it’s elements together.

      I don’t think it should have been made too difficult since I myself rinsed the portal achievements so making it hard enought to challenge me would be too high of a base difficulty, getting gold on every challenge map/type from portal 1 is a bit too much to ask for.

    • Rikard Peterson says:

      So it’s easier than Portal 1? That makes me glad to hear. Maybe I won’t wait for a price drop after all.

    • LionsPhil says:

      it never fully pulls it’s elements together.

      Very much this. I am fine with losing the twitchy reaction stuff, but that the various elements never really interplayed was disappointing.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Valve should add special difficulty level for experienced players without all visual clues: arrows, quaint tiles, marks, graffiti and other pointing stuff on different walls which helps to solve all puzzles. Then Portal 2 will be 10 out of 10 for me.

  10. Pop says:

    Tsk! You guys are like film reviewers who only compare Pixar movies to their previous film, without reference to the rest of the industry.

    Insert a paragraph or two where you compare Portal 2 to Homefront or Breach!

    In fairness, I think that there were some good points made, but it does seem a bit of a shame to be such nitpicks in the face of what is probably the best game in a long time. I wouldn’t advocate unashamedly bowing down to it, but you’re like guys criticising a beautiful 50 year old port when all we’ve had recently have been cheeky Vimtos.

    • Rii says:

      It’s only excellent games like Portal 2 that deserve thousands of words of criticism.

    • whydidyoumakemeregister says:

      Criticism is healthy. We all have different tastes, and as such we’re all going to find faults with everything.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Here’s my comparison with Homefront: “No comparison.”

    • qrter says:

      There’s a boatload of extremely positive reviews to read out there, so now is the perfect time for a more considered, perhaps more critical round of criticism.

  11. jealouspirate says:

    I personally loved the game. I especially loved the moments kind of between the more “formal” testing where you were just exploring the ruins of Aperture. This game just oozes great atmosphere. Along those lines, I thought the music was fantastic. It fit very well. Not only that, but some puzzle elements actually made sounds that FIT INTO the background music. I really can’t say enough amazing lines about that little detail. I would bounce on this gel whenever I want, and it would make a sound effect that naturally felt like part of the background music.

    Maybe I’m the minority here, but I liked the move away from “twitch” bases puzzles. I enjoy Portal for the writing, story, atmosphere and the brain bending puzzles. Nothing frustrates me more than having figured out HOW to do something and then repeatedly fail at the execution. For me, the joy is figuring out what to do, not the action of doing it.

  12. Rii says:

    Apropos of nothing, I do believe these roundtable discussions are amongst the best work that RPS does. It’s a point I’ve wanted to raise for a while now, in the ‘give us some more…’ sense. So, kudos for that.

    • Dozer says:

      Ah but their wage bill is 5x higher for an article like this than one where only one writer is needed! Perhaps we could have more articles where one writer pretends to be the other four?

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      We’ve been trying to do it as much as possible, but there’s SO much to cover, and we’re all very tired. Getting everyone to play enough of one game is like trying to convince four grown men with no spare time to agree to sit alone in a room twitching for eight hours, for no reward.

    • Rii says:

      I understand the difficulty and appreciate all the work you guys put in already. Maybe roundtables wouldn’t always have to be about a specific game? Maybe they could be about exploring a theme or an issue of the day: Dickwolves, UbiDRM, etc. Or trailer commentaries like the one for Red Alert 3. Stuff that doesn’t demand as much time investment on the part of the staff to get up to speed. Really, it’s just fun to see you guys bounce ideas off of one another.

    • Edawan says:

      @Jim : Maybe add some achievements ?

    • colinmarc says:

      definitely this! It doesn’t have to be a game, but any sort of roundtable discussion you guys do is always really in-depth and cool.

  13. willy359 says:

    I loved playing this game, but I also felt a slight disappointment at my limited ability to randomly screw around. Certainly more of a “find the path” rather than a “create a path” experience. The few times I got stuck for more than a minute or two, it was because I had failed to spot a single square of portal-friendly wall way the hell across a huge open space. I don’t like to pull the “consoles ur dum” card, but I can’t help feeling that the original’s gameplay was subtly reshaped to better suit it to gamepad controls. That’s why there was so little flinging.

    • skinlo says:

      The Orange Box came out on Xbox 360 the day after it came out on PC…

    • whydidyoumakemeregister says:

      Portal was pretty damn hard with the 360 controller, though. It wasn’t until I bought a gaming PC and the Orange Box on Steam that I finally beat Portal (last year… so 3 years of not knowing Portal was more than just puzzles at the end).

  14. Gigs says:

    After finishing the game, I would recommend replaying through the second half with noclip (flying mode) in order to really appreciate the level of detail put into the areas. (It’s also fun to find areas where the developers got lazy and left in random floating crates in limbo.)

    To enable noclip:
    ~ (to open dev console)
    sv_cheats 1
    noclip

  15. S.T.A.L.K.E.R. says:

    I misread “Kieron Gillen” as “Karen Gillan” and got super excited (and a little aroused) because she is gorgeous.

    • thegooseking says:

      I have the same situation in reverse every time I watch Doctor Who.

    • qrter says:

      Are you saying Kieron Gillen is NOT gorgeous?

      Look, he’s no Quintin Smith, but still.. those legs!

    • McDan says:

      @S.T.A.L.K.E.R: I know how you feel, hot damn.

      I feel I must add something about the game though, the ending WAS one of the very few really excellent game endings, in the top 5 ever. For me anyway.

  16. Jumwa says:

    I agree with Jim (I believe) in that co-op was a thing of beauty. It’s the first bit of the game my partner and I dug into, and we adored it. It was glorious. Thankfully we had the soothing balm of the single player mode to go through to ease our sadness that co-op was over.

    But nothing, I think, could compare to that co-op mode and the fun we had with it. The beautiful melding of minds as we sat side by side figuring it all out. And only once did we get stuck so long that I had to talk her out of looking up the answer online.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Indeed. Co-op’s puzzles felt better, as when we overthought them, we’d usually screw up, so it felt like we were figuring it out.

      Sad there wasn’t REALLY a culmination level, though.

  17. Dervish says:

    Quintin: This is very much a game which anybody meant to be able to go bounding through.

    A puzzle game… where anybody is meant to be able to go bounding through. Isn’t the whole point of a puzzle to stump you, to halt you in your tracks? Yes, I know Portal 1 was much the same, but it was even worse this time around, as they noted. Good luck finding any review that’ll use that word–worse–though.

    Alec: It’s almost more of an adventure than a collection of puzzles this time around.

    Replace “adventure” with “movie” and this is dead-on. Valve has fantastic artists, voice actors, and animators. Portal 2 is humorous and impressively polished, but they’ve scrubbed the game bits down to the rails. I wonder, where are all the people mocking COD’s linear, scripted corridors and BLOPS’ “no shooting needed” intro level? I certainly hope they are consistent enough to judge Portal 2 on similar grounds.

    • Archonsod says:

      I very much doubt many of them would want to play Portal in the first place.

    • Dervish says:

      You don’t think there is any overlap between “people who snidely look down on Call of Duty” and “people who play Portal?”

    • Archonsod says:

      Yep, but since the criticism is based on the genre I don’t think they’re going to play it enough to care about the details. If you’re dismissing the game because it’s an on-rails shooter / puzzle game taking apart the details becomes moot; if you don’t like on-rails shooters, you’re not going to like an on-rails shooter no matter how good or bad it’s implementation.

    • nayon says:

      @Dervish no one will hold this game up to those standards, because people have an inherent perception that Valve can do no wrong. Yes, Portal 2 feels barely like a game and more like a movie at times, it’s so on-rails that it gets frustrating, but turns out if the rails are pretty then people don’t notice.

      I for one do not believe in detracting from the puzzling to make everything prettier. I like feeling smart as opposed to just looking around and being awed.

    • Premium User Badge phuzz says:

      Valve do a much, much better job of hiding it though. Especially in Portal 1, I felt I was making my own path through the level, and only on a second play through realised that I’d taken *the* path through the level.
      In the CoD games I only get that in reverse, I try something, only to hit an arbitrary wall, and then another, and another, until I somehow find the one solution the game allows and I end up not enjoying myself.

      Somehow in Valve games I end up picking the route I’m ‘supposed to’ take, and almost never hit the walls (they’re also better at hiding the invisible walls), and end up feeling like a genius.

    • Wilson says:

      @Dervish – It’s a fair point, but Portal has setting in it’s favour. In Modern Warfare type games you’re often in a city or forest or somewhere like that, and there’s no good reason why you couldn’t at least take a minor detour to get somewhere. In Portal, the entire place is built by the AI in charge, and it can be changed pretty much at whim. Plus test courses are going to be linear by their nature, so I don’t think you would ever expect it it be less of a corridor game (though an open-world portal game in the Aperture complex could be pretty cool).

    • whydidyoumakemeregister says:

      “I like feeling smart as opposed to just looking around and being awed.”

      Hahaha… if you want to feel smart, go make a puzzle game. Solving puzzles isn’t inherently a smart thing to do, it just means that the puzzle maker made it easy enough for you to solve.

    • nayon says:

      I know, but I just stated my preference for the kind of experience I prefer. I didn’t say “I like being assured of my intelligence”, I said I prefer feeling smart as to just gawking around. It’s a matter of what you make your player feel, not what you’re actually doing.

    • Lilliput King says:

      @whydid: Irrelevant. It’s good game design to make the player feel smart. Actually making the player smart has nothing to do with it.

    • Archonsod says:

      “It’s a fair point, but Portal has setting in it’s favour. In Modern Warfare type games you’re often in a city or forest or somewhere like that, and there’s no good reason why you couldn’t at least take a minor detour to get somewhere.”

      Same applies to the L4D games though, and they’re in a different setting. One thing Valve have always been good at, since the original HL, is subtly directing the player down the route they want them to take.

    • Premium User Badge Nogo says:

      Are you really complaining about a valve game being on-rails?

      Where you absent for Half-Life? The game that starts on a train.

    • Dervish says:

      It has little to do with linearity per se; I’m not even that interested in alternate puzzle solutions. It’s the feeling that, for Valve’s idea of Portal, the game’s interactive challenges are pesky things that get in the way of delivering the next cool voiceover or animation. All these puzzles are throwing off the timing and flow–they need to be tested and tweaked and simplified until no one spends too much time on them and the show can go on. This is what I meant by “scrubbed the game bits down to the rails.”

    • dysphemism says:

      Despite sharing your feelings that Portal 2 was a bit too on-rails, I have been thinking about one interesting thing that Valve did with it. They force you into behaving like a lab rat, explicitly, both through their mechanics and their storyline; the on-rails feeling is totally grounded in Chell’s relative helplessness. This was true in both Portal 1 and 2. Every so often, though, the game bucks this trend and gives you instructions which you must disregard in order to progress.
      95% of the Portal games you spend obeying instructions. But then they throw a curve, and you have to rebel in order to survive (i.e. don’t go in there! GLaDOS will nerve gas you!). Obviously, the game is still telling you “what to do,” but it’s such an effective narrative technique! It gives a sense of agency where really there is none.

  18. Mr Chug says:

    Funnily enough, amongst all the great writing, puzzling and root vegetables, the thing that sticks with me most are the environments. The vast caverns in act 2 were when it really set in for me that this was a long labour of love, and made me realise how claustrophobic Portal 1 really was.

    • subedii says:

      A lot of developers seem to try for a sense of scale, but Valve seem to be one of the few who ever really get it. They know how to shape the view and the environment, and in particular where the player’s going to be looking, in order to convey that sense of scale.

      Pretty much most other games these days make me feel more and more confined by comparison. Even if Portal 2 is largely on rails, they gave me a much better sense of the sheer size of Aperture science than most games ever really manage to achieve.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yeah, that whole section was fabulous, architecturally.

    • Kaira- says:

      I personally hated those caverns, they were boring and became quite annoying puzzle-wise. Though the gel was a nice thing, but still.

    • jonfitt says:

      It really did well in conveying that Aperture’s bowels are vast!

      However the lack of portal-able surfaces was slightly grating; it hammered home that this uber weapon is only any good because of special walls. Kind of like playing with a Ferrari on a test track and then finding out there are no more roads in the rest of the world and it’s useless off-road.

      I really liked the goo and was much happier when you get into the test chambers. I thought the bowels section was more of an exposition and traversal section.

    • dysphemism says:

      Talk about sense of scale, do you remember the area just before the last boss (I think it was, anyway), where you’re actually beneath the test chamber? You’re surrounded by chain-link fence. The area feels very much like a parking garage, only it extends horizontally for as far as the eye (draw-distance?) can see, and you realize you’re looking at a sea of test chambers, every one raised up on coils like table legs. It was strange and dystopian and awe-inspiring.

    • Dervish says:

      I assume Cheyenne Mountain (or a similar facility) was the inspiration for that particular scene:
      http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/norad-3.jpg
      http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/bto/20090626/Springs_610x405.jpg

      I believe one of the commentary nodes mentions “neutrino detectors” as one of the many things they looked at as references for their environments; Googling that pulls up some neat pictures as well.

  19. A-Scale says:

    Why DID John say that about falling just short? I was also constantly on the lookout and it didn’t happen once.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      JOHN WALKER!?!?!?!?!?!

      KG

    • FD says:

      I don’t know if this was what John was referring to but on the first conversion gel level I had a similar experience. I missed the two tall towers that you are supposed to cover in gel and portal up, I don’t think they were telegraphed as well as they needed to be given Valve’s comments about players never looking up, and spent a solid half hour plus trying to do a multi-portal loop off the smaller towers and got close enough to the platform to trigger the end of mission dialog but not quite onto the platform.

    • Gigs says:

      @FD I had the exact same experience. Luckily it wasn’t annoying to me because i was having too much fun covering everything with the unlimited stream of gel. I would have actually preferred more “out of the box” type puzzles like that one.

    • MrPyro says:

      I found 2 places where this happened; possible spoilers below

      1) the start of the orange gel section, where you find PotaOS; if you don’t realise you’re supposed to leap onto the roof of the compound and instead head straight for the lift, you always fall just short of the jump (finding PotaOS adds a length of walkway)

      2) Part of the ascent from the lower level; I can’t remember exactly where, but there is a bit where you are jumping down into a portal to get vertical acceleration, and the nearest drop gives you just enough to almost make the walkway.

    • jonfitt says:

      @MrPyro
      The thing about that part is because I knew that all the jumps so far had been perfectly measured, if I tried the jump and hit it right, and didn’t make it, I knew that it wasn’t the solution. So I looked around and tried to get as high as I could.

      If the jumping had been more skill based as in Portal 1, I could have been trying that over an over for ages thinking I wasn’t doing it well enough.

    • briktal says:

      That was actually an issue I had with Braid. It was hard to tell if I had the solution but wasn’t executing it perfectly enough, or if there was one more piece I needed to figure out.

    • LionsPhil says:

      FD: Same.

      I had some fun in Pump Station Beta, because I was sure you could deal with the pane of glass by repositioning a portal in midair as you fell into the other, before I finally twigged they wanted you to just bounced back and forth between two floor portals to do it, which is much easier. (And still one of vanishingly few cases where you need to fire in midair.)

      Portal 2 is very much a game that feels on rails. It’s something I felt every time I tried to crouch-jump over a railing, in fact, or any number of other places with invisible walls or pushers. Despite the occasional easter egg, it really doesn’t want you to venture off the beaten path. And that’s kind of a shame.

    • LionsPhil says:

      FD: Same.

      I had some fun in Pump Station Beta, because I was sure you could deal with the pane of glass by repositioning a portal in midair as you fell into the other, before I finally twigged they wanted you to just bounced back and forth between two floor portals to do it, which is much easier. (And still one of vanishingly few cases where you need to fire in midair.)

      Portal 2 is very much a game that feels on rails. It’s something I felt every time I tried to crouch-jump over a railing, in fact, or any number of other places with invisible walls or pushers. Despite the occasional easter egg, it really doesn’t want you to venture off the beaten path. And that’s kind of a shame.

      Damnit, comment system. This post is not delicious.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Likewise, FD.

      I had some fun in Pump Station Beta, because I was sure you could deal with the pane of glass by repositioning a portal in midair as you fell into the other, before I finally twigged they wanted you to just bounced back and forth between two floor portals to do it, which is much easier. (And still one of vanishingly few cases where you need to fire in midair.)

      Portal 2 is very much a game that feels on rails. It’s something I felt every time I tried to crouch-jump over a railing, in fact, or any number of other places with invisible walls or pushers. Despite the occasional easter egg, it really doesn’t want you to venture off the beaten path. And that’s kind of a shame.

  20. Matt says:

    That was incredibly negative. You all made some valid points though, I suppose.

    Surprised no-one mentioned the fantastic voice acting – Stephen Merchant in particular I thought was brilliant throughout.

    • Bhazor says:

      My problem with the voice work was that it was pretty much all monologues. Which as far as voice acting goes is like playing chopsticks on the piano.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Probably the issue with it being a considered opinion. If we had all played it immediately after finish it I suspect we would have been a lot more “BRILLIANT!”

      Because it is brilliant.

    • qrter says:

      My problem with the voice work was that it was pretty much all monologues. Which as far as voice acting goes is like playing chopsticks on the piano.

      Well, that’s just not true. You try and act out a monologue, hitting the right rhythms, pauses and intonations, make it sound like you made it up on the spot AND make it convincing.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Soliloquising is the lowest form of acting, I guess.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Soliloquies like Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” are te lowest form of acting? Looks like someone forgot to tell the RSC.

      And there are no soliloquies in Portal. Look the meaning up in a dictionary.

  21. bluebogle says:

    Easily the funnest and most exciting game I’ve played in years. Liked it more than than the first, liked it more than HL2.

  22. F4T C4T says:

    All good points in the conversation but I feel that Valve knew they couldn’t ramp up the single player puzzles too much for pacing reasons and that is what the co-op section is for (haven’t played it myself yet, waiting for a friend to finish single player, but Jim’s comments and others suggest this is the case). Maybe a single player extension is needed to satisfy those who want more puzzle without requiring other people though.

    Completely unrelated but one of my favourite moments was when I saw the overgrown potato with the huge roots etc, and I thought that must be what all the foliage all over the place was from. It made me chuckle but I’m not sure if it’s actually the case.

  23. jonfitt says:

    Wow, quite negative sounding for what really is game of the year so far, and will be hard to beat.
    I know you realised you were beating the prize pony for being too horse-like, but still.

    The puzzles may feel like there was only one solution, but having played through it a few times I can guarantee I’ve completed some differently to you. Not wildly differently, mind, but there are shortcuts to be had in the more complex ones.
    However, I don’t think there’s room for the game breaking, Portal Ninja, stuff from the first game, as through a lot of the game the places where you can place portals are prescribed. I never was any good at that anyway. It wasn’t the point of the game to me.

    It is also the funniest game I’ve ever played hands down. I actually literally LOL’d which rarely happens to me with any medium, I’m more of a smiling mirth type person.

    The line that did it for me was:
    “How are you doing? Because I’m a potato”

    and then the last act was the funniest of all.

    • qrter says:

      I think my favourite part was the lemon speech, but especially GLaDOS’ reactions to it. It’s very funny and also strangely moving, I thought:

      (SPOILERIFIC, ofcourse. DO NOT WATCH if you’re still going to play the game)

    • LintMan says:

      Yes, so much negative commentary in the article for a game they’d all rate 9/10. IMHO, Portal 2 is the best game of the year so far, and I’m not sure if there’s any 2010 games I’ve played that I would say were better.

      Portal 2 certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s a brilliant follow-up to a brilliant original game. I wasn’t confident they could pull it off, but they did. So many memorable moments.

  24. Premium User Badge shoptroll says:

    I liked Portal 2 a lot, it was as good as I expected it to be. I think this is a bit harsher review than intended, but there are some valid points, so maybe it’s just everyone had slightly higher expectations for this game? No talk about the copious amount of loading screens?

    Couple of thoughts on the single-player:

    Completely agree about the isolation. This game felt a lot more isolated than Portal 1. Within the first hour of the game I was getting some massive Super Metroid vibes from the game.

    Puzzle design was interesting. I feel like they wanted to give everyone a huge toy box of things to play with but every time I thought they’d give me an interestingly hard puzzle, you get shuttled off to the next toy. It reminded me of some of the design behind Mario where they introduce new concepts, you play with them for a level or two and then you’re handed the next thing. The game stays fresh because you don’t spend a lot of time on any particular mechanic but at the same time you never get a sense of mastery/accomplishment with anything until the very very end. I liked how they brought back the gels for the last 1/4 of chapter 8, but it seemed like too little too late. There’s a lot of possible interactions with the puzzle elements, hopefully I’ll get a sense of mastery in the co-op (still haven’t played it) or they’ll explore this space more with the DLC. I fully expect the mod community is going to come up with some brilliant puzzles with these puzzle elements.

    Cave Johnson segment felt vastly different to me than the modern sections. Felt a lot closer to the escape sequence in the last 1/3rd of Portal 1 due to the industrial textures and the constant problem of trying to find the correct surface to portal. Really felt like the puzzles are designed to appeal to a different type of play. I did like how the game broke up the test chambers with travel segments where you’re trying to get to the next batch. Felt like they basically shrunk down Portal 1 to a 45 minute microcosm and just looped the structure throughout the game. Nice pacing / rhythm.

    • jonfitt says:

      Oh yes. the loading screens in the first act were very annoying. Especially when you can blast through a chamber in less than a minute. I was glad when it opened up.

      Also, I had a thought about hard puzzles: perhaps they could have been optional? Somehow there’s an easy puzzle for the proles and a harder puzzle for the portal ninjas who can find it!

    • Hidden_7 says:

      The “Smash TV” achievement was somewhat like this. Most of the monitors were fairly straightforward to get, but there were a couple that required you to look at test chambers in a new way, much like the challenge maps of Portal 1. I could have done with maybe a bit more of that: optional objectives in a level for an achievement or something that are harder than simply progressing through the level.

  25. Kaira- says:

    I also have completed Portal 2. It was a good game, without a doubt, but I think not even close to the amount of goodness it could’ve been.

    * Dialogue was surprisingly meh, though there were points of sheer goodness, especially towards the end
    * I felt level design was good except those damn caverns (chapters 6-8), which were mind-numbingly boring (though gels were a nice touch and writing was at best at those chapters)
    * The damned loading screens
    * It was a bit short when comparing to most games I play, though when thinking about the game itself it was rather nice, I believe that it could’ve been a bit longer
    * Puzzles were mostly easy, and I only got stuck on some puzzles at the chapters 6-8 due to lack of clear direction

    Good game nontheless.
    Edit:// Oh yes, and this is of single-player campaign, I haven’t yet tried co-op.

  26. kyrieee says:

    Glad to see I’m not crazy.
    I was really let down by the puzzles, there wasn’t enough there to sustain the length, for me at least. I also couldn’t stand Wheatly’s voice actor which didn’t add to the enjoyment, but I guess I’m alone in that.

    • Premium User Badge Harlander says:

      Nah, a few people have made similar comments across the earlier PorTwo threads.

  27. tomeoftom says:

    Yay! I miss these RPS verdicts. Good talk, men. But no Optimus Thumbs? Did he run out of thumbs, or was he just past his prime? (okayokayI’mgoing)

    • Srethron says:

      Using them was not the optimum solution. Primarily. They weren’t thumbing their noses at you.

  28. Fistulator says:

    I love it because it just makes me feel so happy. Portal also had this effect but it’s mixed with guilt because I just murdered GLaDOS. And I love GLaDOS. And coop was pure joy, all the way through.
    Also, what I really liked about the game but don’t see mentioned much is the stellar sound design. And I’m not just talking about the great soundtrack and awesome voice acting, but the little sounds which are made by various environment elements. For some reason, they really made me like the game even more.

    • Premium User Badge shoptroll says:

      Oh yes! The sound design. I played through the Cave Johnson sections with headphones. They put some serious work into the atmospheric noises there.

    • Fistulator says:

      They really added a lot of character to a game that was already brimming with it.

  29. Juiceman says:

    I loved Portal 2; it’s a very worthy addition. I thought the difficulty level was just right. It’s difficult enough to give most people a pause at some of the later levels, but not so hard where you will have to read a walkthrough. For those wanting something more challenging, the community happily cranked out fairly brutal puzzles for Portal 1 and I’m sure they will do the same for this installment.
    All that being said, I would of rather they released Half-life: Episode 3.

  30. Premium User Badge Cross says:

    If this discussion is any indication, Kieron Gillen’s life has worsened significantly since he left RPS. Seriously, who the hell has been pissing in his coffee to make him so grumpy?

    • Teddy Leach says:

      He’s a professional comic writer. He has to create horrible situations on a daily basis.

    • Bret says:

      He also got married fairly recently. Could be lack of sleep.

    • Red_Avatar says:

      Funny, I thought he was spot on with his comments – I find people are being too positive and uncritical about Portal 2 and he was fair and balanced and explained his opinion. Most reviews gloss over the negatives: “puzzles” that don’t challenge, a game that is strongly focused on story and setting instead of, you know, being a game, a weird difficulty curve (as in, it has a few bumps but doesn’t rise), etc.

      For me, Portal 2 is like Dreamfall: a great experience but a weak game. Not a game I’d replay because the tedious puzzles would bore the hell out of me (they were no challenge the first time, the second time would make it painful) but the trip to the end was mostly enjoyable if I block out the puzzle bits.

      My favourite part was the old parts of the base which were closed off. I LOVED that – seeing those ancient computers, older versions of the technology, etc. This is what I like seeing in a game: a good creative setting.

      On the down side, the game doesn’t make any sense – you wouldn’t start building at the bottom of a salt mine, but at the top so Aperture’s new base would be at the deepest part in reality. Even if you claim Cave was a crazy guy, it would be like mining for coal in the deepest sparsest veins when there’s easier and more bountiful veins nearby – it makes no sense. Leaving the old stuff behind does make sense in a way, but why they’d connect the gel of the old part to the new base when the new base clearly never used it (despite suddenly having tests that use it AFTER you connect it) … it’s maybe nitpicking and expecting too much realism, but in the end, the game makes no sense regardless which is a shame. If it had cleverly fitted with discoveries filling in holes and mysteries, it would have been more enjoyable. That’s something Valve needs to learn instead of just creating vague mysteries that never really have a satisfying answer. A lot of their stuff feels as if it’s written as they go along.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      The portal gun started out as a way to make a better shower curtain. Just sayin’. Aperture and CJ’s ethos seems to be all about doing amazing things in the most asinine, backward way possible. I thought the way the facility was designed perfectly reflected that.

  31. Ruffian says:

    I think the one thing everyone is forgetting about this game and valve in general is that they support their products very well and there will probably be a good amount of custom content as well as dev approved dlc in the future. I personally loved this game and I agree that it’s second only to the hl2 series, but it’s what will come from the community with the tools and tech added in pOrtal2 that excites me most.

  32. duncanthrax says:

    The game is good, but I don’t consider it to be overly funny. Some good chuckles, yes, but not more. I consider Wheatley to be overdone.

    My fav quote was Cave Johnson saying

    ‘Science isn’t about “Why?”, it’s about “WHY NOT!”.’

  33. Daave says:

    I think they could have had slightly more elaborate puzzles at the end of each section. Such as a puzzle where you have to fling some blue gel then create portals for it while flying through the air just behind it. Or some more timing required in pressing buttons. Or simply less obvious solutions to puzzles i.e. more portalable surfaces.

    To make a crude comparison to SpaceChem, I want to be able to get a similar sense of achievement from solving problems, in that you can miss the “designed” solution, spend an hour trying something retarded, then pull it off. Portal 1 certainly had this, but puzzle difficulty has taken a backseat to the truly excellent writing, pacing, voice acting, aesthetic, timing, physics, visuals, easter eggs, etc. etc. etc.

    Portal 1 was game designed for nerds, by nerds (2+2=……10…… In base 4), which was never expected to be as big as it became. Any gripes people have are most probably design choices by Valve rather than mistakes, but Portal 2 is a game I could imagine parents playing with their children, and ultimately that’s is to it’s credit, even if the people who fell in love with Portal 1 feel hard done by.

    • Wulf says:

      Portal 2 is a brilliant game, but it doesn’t diminish Portal 1 at all, and I can’t help but feel that if anyone is stomping around saying that 2 should’ve been just like 1, but more, then… well, I’m going to call entitlement. Yes, that word again. I feel they’re being a bit entitled and stupid about letting a sequel be its own game.

      I’ve encountered this recently with Guild Wars and oh boy it’s pissed me off like you wouldn’t believe. There are people who got hooked on Guild Wars who despise Guild Wars 2. Is it the setting? No. Is it something about the gameplay mechanics? Nope. Is it related to the world? No way. Is it about the professions? Nuh-uh. Is it about anything important that matters? No way. What is it about? People are refusing to play the game because the charr are playable and you can finally see things from the charr perspective, and things were revealed that showed the humans in Guild Wars to be shades of grey, rather than just black & white.

      Apparently humans are shining paragons of truth, justice, virtue, and beauty, and charr are just these horrible monsters that can only win dirty. This is, of course, despite how the humans in the original Guild Wars drove a race to extinction simply because they didn’t like them. But you’re not going to talk sense to a charr-hater. (In fact, some poking has often revealed them to be terrible RL racists too, they like to go on and on about how Nazi Germany was so terrible and we should be racists against modern day people.)

      People often hate something for not being like something else, but it’s rarely ever justified, and usually it’s pretty damned stupid.

  34. nneko says:

    Having played the single-player, I loved most of it. But. The two super-valid criticisms here are that generally: 1) The formula of having a quip at the beginning and end of a level and nothing in the middle makes the writing feel a bit unnatural, such that when GLaDOS is missing with her taunts, the lack of follow-up makes them just feel dumb. (The style totally works for the Cave Johnson recordings — because they’re just recordings — and he’s totally awesome throughout, as is all the voice work.) And 2) the most common difficulty in puzzle solving was “failed to notice” rather than “failed to think” so when I got to the 2-3 puzzles that required me to think about doing physics to other things, it took a while for me to get from “I must be not seeing something” to “I wonder what would happen if…” (I do love the additional toys — at least up until they overwhelm the portals — I just wish there were multiple ways to solve the puzzles).

  35. Serenegoose says:

    I am actually super-happy that the puzzles were entirely cerebral and not at all twitchy. It’s a puzzle game. Yes, it’s a first person puzzle game, but it’s a puzzle game. There were times in Portal 1 where I had to do the unconscionable act of -taking the controller from my partner- because she couldn’t finish it. See: The end boss. Can you imagine how much that must have stung? Muddling your way through the entire singleplayer campaign save for the bits where it remembers that everyone playing it is supposed to have exquisite reactions, and finding yourself hitting an absolute brick wall? The genius of portal 2 is that everyone with a functioning brain can think the solutions out. Actually performing them isn’t meant to be a challenge, nor should it. You wouldn’t get a rubix cube that ran away at 25mph and you were only allowed to solve it if you could keep up.

    To talk about the game, I loved the singleplayer, and I’ve loved the co-op so far. I’d want more singleplayer because I don’t know how one could have such story and dialogue in a co-op game. As I’ve said in a previous comment, HL2 would be a bit ruined if Alyx yelled at me in the voice of any of my friends to HURRY UP AND KILL THE COMBINE GRRRRRR RAGEQUIT because I wanted to listen to one of the breencasts.

  36. edit says:

    For me the primary aspect I found lacking was probably what made it work for the mainstream on such a scale. I would have loved unclear puzzles with multiple solutions that required non-obvious leaps of discovery, but as the guys said Valve want a LOT of people to play this game and for every one of them to be able to finish it. I dislike things being on rails, I don’t like having my hand held.. I like exploration and coming up with my own solutions to things. Despite Portal 2 failing to appease that preference, it was executed brilliantly enough that I love the hell out of it regardless.

  37. RandomGameR says:

    I’m glad that this “Verdict” included some of the negatives. I don’t quite get how anyone is claiming that this is game of the year quality, nor do I see the “excellent writing.” It’s baffling to me.

    Portal 1 was a brilliant piece of art. It was a deconstruction of both puzzle games and the idea of tutorials. The game’s humor cam out of its entirely unexpected nature and its hidden gems (scribblings of the cake is a lie in a back corridor that someone at some point had been sleeping in was brilliant).

    Portal 2 is a blunt and obvious adventure game that requires a lot less thought and skill to get through. It fills in details that shouldn’t have been filled in. I was wholly disappointed to learn that Aperture science itself was nothing more than a big joke. They have developed this amazing portal technology (in the 1940s, huh?) and never made any money off of it? At one point Cave curses Black Mesa out for stealing all of their ideas… which doesn’t make sense in the world of half-life at all, as none of the ideas presented exist… bah.

    Portal 2′s writing is nothing in comparison to the subtle genius of Portal 1. It’s like comparing Twin Peaks with Friends. I feel like they sacrificed the satisfying gameplay and mysterious setting of the first for fat jokes and big explosions.

    I’m so far just left scratching my head. It’s not an awful game, but it’s also not a great game. Stating that it’d be a “low 9/10″ is true in th at 8/10 is pretty fair for the game, maybe even 7/10.

    Also, both Wheatley and Cave’s personalities were incredibly grating. At one point Glados offers you the chance to complete her puzzle instead of going with Wheatley… how many of you walked into her trap because of how annoying he is? I know I did. He’s the zany side-kick character that gets added to bad sequels. Cave is is such an obvious “what cartoons think 1940s scientists sound like” character.

    • Wulf says:

      Some people are just too critical to be able to go with the flow and accept something for what it is, this is the same thing that made me angry in the Darkspore thread. Normally I’d say – to each their own, but here I’m going to say that I feel sorry that you’ll never see the game that I did.

      It was a game of emotional highs and lows, especially in the latter half, and some of those were because of Cave, and some of those were because of Wheatley, just because a character may be designed to be a bit grating doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try and put yourself in that reality, immerse yourself, and try to accept them for whomever they are and accept their virtues. Because if you do so you’ll find there’s a whole lot that you’re missing out on, and have clearly missed out on.

      For all of its emotional highs and lows, its great characterisation, its humour twinged with melancholy, for its love, its anger, its passion, for its bravery, and for just being what it is… I give it 10/10, a thumbs up, and the most vehement fucking recommendation I’m capable of giving.

      I’m sorry that I have to disagree with you like this, but Portal 2 was a game that touched me, and you’ll never be able to see it like I did, because you’re just too critical.

    • nayon says:

      @Wulf: What emotional highs and lows? There was nothing immersive about the game. There’s no reason for you to care about Wheatley or Cave, they’re just shoved into your face and they do their blatant expositive camp humor.

      What great characterisation? Wheatley and Cave are completely one-dimensional, and Glados is barely more than that, just because she loses power and is at your mercy and then goes through the Caroline thing (which is invalidated in the end anyway).

      The game did not touch me at all, I didn’t care at all for almost anything that happened in the game, I enjoyed the environments and sound design and a few other cool things, but except for those it was a fairly paint-by-numbers affair. Yes, the color of the paint is different, and so are the numbers, but that didn’t make it any less paint-by-numbers.

      It’s a good game, but people are being overly emotional about it just because it’s a Valve game called Portal.

    • Serenegoose says:

      This just in. Opinions now objective fact! We’ll tell you more on what you are now thinking at 11.

    • mrpier says:

      Well of course they’ve never made any money out of it, it only works on surfaces painted with a specific paint :p

    • nayon says:

      This just in! Trying to invalidate opinions that you disagree with by calling “people have opinions, deal” doesn’t work. He stated his opinion, I mine. I didn’t say his was invalid. I would actually like to be proven wrong, if someone could point out flaws in my arguments.

      Your post is just trolling though, carry on.

    • Serenegoose says:

      I’m not trying to invalidate your opinion. Your opinion is as meaningless to me as mine is to you – as it should be. I disagreed with the phrasing of several statements like “There was nothing immersive about the game” Which sounds a bit 2+2=4 to me. A bit too masquerading as objective fact, so I chided it. I thought the game was all kinds of immersive. You didn’t. If that’s an attempt to invalidate you, then oh well.

    • Wulf says:

      I wasn’t trying to invalidate anyone, either.

      In fact, my point?

      @nayon

      You didn’t see any emotional highs or lows? Therein is my point. You were probably being distracted by things that were objectively wrong with the game rather than being swept up in the story. Some people are just too logical for their own good. I’m the opposite, I’m a very intuitive, emotionally driven person, so I ignored the possible flaws because of the bloody emotional torrent that I couldn’t ignore. But that’s just the difference between us.

      The point I was trying to make is that you’ll never be able to see what I see because you’re very logical. That’s a virtue, yes, but in this case it stopped you from being swept up in it like I was. If you actually replay the game then you may just pick up on what made it so special for me. I can try to explain it to you, but unless you experience it, you have no reason to believe me. And that’s reasonable. And I’m sorry about that.

      I’m not saying that my viewpoint is objective. Hell, far from it. I think that some of the emotional carriage might have been implied by my own mind, because I like to write stories as I go through things, but for me, as I experienced it, it was there. I’ve experienced things that others have loved that have had less than zero emotional impact for me, like Dragon Age: Origins, for example. I didn’t get any emotional feedback from that at all, so I’ll never be able to see what other people see in it. I wish I could, but I can’t. And by the same merit, you may never understand what I see in Portal 2, or the emotions involved.

      I’ll link you some comments to read, but… you know, it probably won’t change anything.

      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/04/28/valve-on-portal-2-spoiler-interview-part-two/comment-page-1/#comment-677719 – Read from there on. I’m not going to do an anchor for that. I’ll just leave it there as an actual link. There was at least one other person out there who felt what I felt, who saw what I saw, and that makes me happy. But not everyone is going to. Not everyone can. Because not everyone has the same sort of mind as I do. And isn’t that what opinions are about?

    • RandomGameR says:

      Wulf, I’m glad you linked to your other post because otherwise I was kind of thinking you were a bit of a prig. Imagine if I was to respond to you about anything and say “I feel sorry for you because your brain doesn’t work.” That’s not exactly the way to foster dialog, even if you (I think) didn’t mean it to be outright insulting… it kind of was.

      On the topic of what you find emotionally enthralling… I agree that we are different people. My mind isn’t broken because you found Glados’ relationship to Cave to be anything other than trite, though. I’m not missing out because I didn’t think that the story of a scientist who stores the love of their live’s brain in a computer is anything other than a cliché. It has been done to death. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s been done better. I have found emotional connections in that same story when it was done in a way that didn’t require huge leaps of ridiculousness to get to the emotional meat (Futurama and Buffy the Vampire Slayer both did it in ways that have made me tear up and Star Trek did it in a more respectable way).

      On a side note, I do think that immersion is one thing the game did really well. The art, architecture, and sound design were all spot-on. Even the characters, which grated on me, were voice-acted well. These are all admirable, big-budget blockbuster-game features. The problem I have with the game is that the story-pacing, dialog, and gameplay are all huge steps backward.

      Or to put it another way, if this game had been released without Portal 1 I don’t think that people would be saying that the writing was brilliant.

    • JackShandy says:

      Well, we’d all be saying “Who’s this GladOS person? What’s going on?”, yes. But I don’t think the fact that it’s a sequel to a brilliantly written game would have made anyone like the writing better. Quite the opposite, I’d say.

    • RandomGameR says:

      The first game created an emotional attachment to Aperture, Glados, and Chell. This game’s story fills in the background of Aperture and Glados (with obvious cartoon clichés). It doesn’t do anything to create those attachments on its own. Without those emotional attachments the clichéd story doesn’t stand on its own as “brilliant.” It’s just kind of, meh sci-fi with intentionally annoying characters and some gaping plot holes.

  38. JP says:

    I was thinking earlier about how’s it a full-length game without actual characters, just voices and architecture. And that’s far more character than most any other game of the last few years.

    I understand the wordplay here, but still find it philosophically bothersome that one can consider Portal 2 a game “without characters”. I assume you mean human NPCs that you can walk up to? Why is that our medium’s expected/intended norm? (In my opinion, it’s exactly the point at which many games fall down – Oblivion and Fallout3′s awful mannequins come to mind.) A character’s voice is the MOST real, most human thing about a character in a game! The visuals are just CG waxworks.

    The Portal / Bioshock style of characterization is something this medium does uniquely well – are we perhaps dragging in some expectations from other media?

    Knowing how hard they are to create, and how little they often add even when done well, I’d love to see fewer and fewer games with human NPCs, and more games that deal with the medium’s limitations in clever mature ways. I suppose lots of gamers do really still think the uncanny valley is something that can be solved with brute force, though.

    • Wulf says:

      Thank you. I would’ve said the same thing if you hadn’t. Does something have to be human to be a ‘character’? There’s something oddly zealously religious about a statement like that.

      I won’t say much because I don’t want to lessen your comment with my babble, but I will link the courtroom scene from The Measure of a Man.

      We could use more games exploring things like this if you ask me. It might help us set aside the xenophobia some feel when confronted with anything that isn’t familiar and extremely human in appearance. Because seriously, if we ever meet an alien race, most of our race is screwed. Utterly screwed. :P

      (And GLaDOS is far more convincing than the emotionally dead Alyx could ever be, by far and wide Valve’s most believably alive character yet.)

  39. Premium User Badge VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    What’s all this silly nonsense about Portal not being a full-length game? When I played it, it finished exactly at the ending.

  40. Dances to Podcasts says:

    When it comes to difficulty, ideally you want players to be able to change the difficulty up or down whenever they like, because different people will do different things well or badly. In your average shooter this will be easy, because you can simply change hitpoints, damage, ai abilities, medpacks, etc. In a game like Portal it’s much harder to change a puzzle on the fly. That’s probably why the developers chose to go for the easy option, because it’s better to have some people grumble about easiness than have people get stuck and quit.

  41. Dachannien says:

    Another cooperative puzzle game:

    Myst Online: Uru Live

    Yes, there were only a few puzzles that *required* cooperative involvement, but it was still a lot of fun trying to solve the puzzles alongside friends.

    Now the big cooperative involvement is that it’s finally going open source. The client software and 3DS Max plugin for “age” (level) development are already open sourced now, and people are picking up the ball and running with it (take that, non-American football!).

    • Wulf says:

      I freaking love Uru. I loved the hell out of it the first time I played it, and I’ve loved the hell out of it every time since. It’s one of the few games where I feel like I’m wandering around a truly alien landscape, it isn’t just earth, it isn’t a clichéd pastiche either, it’s real. And it’s all sorts of art, not art in the usual sense, but art in the… everyday life sense, where you can step outside your door and see something beautiful, of human or natural construction. It burned itself into your mind and there are just scenes you’ll never forget, there are some things you’ll look at and they’ll be in your mind forever.

      I doubt I’ll ever get to play anything like that again, but damn, I’m thankful it still exists, and I can only hope that the community will be as creative as Cyan Worlds in any additions they build. I don’t know what sort of magic Cyan had, I just don’t understand it, but I don’t think that anyone has ever come so close to capturing alien worlds as they have. There’s something that has always occurred to me about all this that’s funny, too, it really is, and you may remember it. You see, they painted these amazing alien worlds that were almost like paintings that you could move around in, and to have such a vivid view of htese alien worlds, it’s almost like they’d visited them. In the game, in the journal of Douglas Sharper, he mentions that a bunch of game developers visited the deep city, those developers being the creators of Myst.

      I could almost believe that. :p

      I really want to know what their inspiration was though, their muse, because Uru was art in the most intense sense of the word.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Oh yes, good call.

  42. The Sombrero Kid says:

    You’re grumps.

  43. PiiSmith says:

    Hard/Competition level DLC maybe?

  44. Demiath says:

    Am I the only person in the whole multiverse who thinks Half-Life 2 was a merely competent shooter with inexplicably dreary environments, and also believes Portal had some clever writing but ultimately overstayed its welcome by somehow becoming tedious despite being really short?
    Haven’t played the multiplayer-oriented Valve games but I quite honestly don’t get what’s supposed to be so magical about this developer. I love Steam, but Half-Life 1 was the last Valve game I truly felt had some amount of historical value.

    • Wulf says:

      I loved Portal 1, and I wouldn’t go that far and say Half-Life 2 was so bad, either. I actually really quite liked it, it’s just that the characters weren’t as strong as they have been in later Valve games. Back then, at the time of Half-Life 2, Valve was still in a very developmental phase. The technology of Source was still new, they didn’t have the animators and writers that they do now, and they weren’t quite as focused on telling a cohesive story.

      I think they’ve come a long way since Half-Life 2, I think HL2 was important because it showed their first few steps in this direction, but it didn’t have as much characterisation as Portal, or TF2, or Left 4 Dead. And certainly nowhere near as much as Portal 2, which I honestly believe is their ultimate perigee, this is the height of Valve. I don’t know if they can go higher than this.

    • Premium User Badge Nogo says:

      Calling Half-Life 2 merely competent is just… wrong. I’m not saying you have to love it or even like it, but the level of design is unprecedented.

      That said, got any games to recommend?

    • Serenegoose says:

      See, this I do find bewildering. Not in a ‘how can you think that’ but in a sort of how can you think that way where the sheer breadth of opinion staggers me. I was pretty hyped for portal 2, I’ll admit that. Except, when I played it I wasn’t disappointed. I was actually more impressed by it than I thought I’d be. I thought the level design was spot on. I loved the dialogue. The atmosphere thrilled me. Absolutely everything about it surpassed my expectations, and I’ve even went back to bits and found they still made me happy. I’ve genuinely found it harder to get excited for other games now because I can’t see what they’re going to offer me that the memories of portal 2 won’t blow right out of the water. I was looking at crysis 2 earlier, a game I was interested in, and I just realised… maybe the shooting will be good, but I’ve seen it before. I can’t escape the feeling that it’s just going to be utterly bland in comparison and correspondingly I might not pick it up now. I feel I need better than that. I need something that excites me, and I’m seeing so utterly little of that now.

      So for someone to say that valve games are just ‘alright’ really, genuinely bewilders me. I’m not disputing that’s your opinion, but I just can’t even begin to comprehend it.

  45. Premium User Badge Carra says:

    Portal 2 is the best game I’ve played since World of Goo.
    * Great voice acting
    * Great puzzles
    * They add a new gameplay element at all the right times
    * Great attention to detail. This game is finished.
    * It’s funny!

    Gonna have to be an amazing game to kick it of my game of the year spot.

  46. Griddle Octopus says:

    Quinns: OKAY, you’ve dragged me into this Lunacy; I liked the ending BUT.

    SPOILER

    I’m going to justify the negative feeling after I’ve had it which invalidates it somewhat BUT I think my reasons are: I didn’t feel it fit the world they’d established; the change to FMV broke my immersion; I thought the moon landing paraphernalia was too kitsch and implied un-scientific randomness; it was too like the ending to the first one; I just went “WTF? Really?” when the moon appeared; I didn’t like all that cool action without my involvement; I hated GladOS and Wheatley nagging me to hit/not hit the switch; the arena was (deliberately?) pathetic.

    That said, it was still better than almost all the other FPS boss ending battles ever.

    • qrter says:

      I liked how the Lunacy thing linked back to the moonrock being an active component of the white gel.

      It was also ridiculous, but the world of Portal 2 got more ridiculous for me the more I played – just the absurd scale of the place, alone. In that way Portal 2 does lose something on the first game, I feel, which did feel a little more plausible as a world and therefore more frightening and atmospheric.

  47. JackShandy says:

    I’m a little puzzled at this talk of Portal 1 letting you improvise your solutions. It always seemed fairly obvious to me that there was always one door over there and one way the game was going to let me get to it.

    I actually did feel like I bodged a solution in the large white gel chamber – one that involved twitchy portalling and using an infinite loop to gain momentum, so I assume I must have actually discovered a different solution to the one you’re meant to use.

    • qrter says:

      Yeah, I don’t understand that remark either – to me it felt like the puzzles in the first game had as much a correct solution as those in the second. I also don’t see how that’s supposed to be a bad thing, they’re puzzles after all.

  48. Muzman says:

    Hooray. Shame it’s so successful, in a way. They probably won’t discount it until Christmas.

    On the ‘full-length’ thing. How long was Episode 2? Despite being billed as an episode (obv) it competes with some supposedly full-length/stand-alone releases these days doesn’t it?
    What counts as full length these days encompasses quite short games, is all I’m saying.

  49. Moonracer says:

    An interesting experience I had while playing was feeling a little too familiar with Valve. If you’ve played through their previous games with the commentary feature on they talk a lot about the visual cues they use. In Portal 2 a lot of the puzzles felt like there was too much hand holding going on. Like you’d walk into a room and a light would flicker on a part of a wall as a “place portal here” cue. I couldn’t tell if they were trying to be less subtle than usual because of trying to appeal to a broader audience or if I was just to familiar with their directing tricks, but it was a little distracting.

    I think my favorite humor element in the game are all the workplace related posters. I hope Valve sells real world versions of many. I think my favorite was “Report to you supervisor if you see… [huge list of safety inspectors and law enforcement]“

  50. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Well, I finally bought it yesterday (Wednesday) and today I finished the game. Can’t say I remember the last time I was suckered into buying a game at full price with such a short play length, but I can’t say I didn’t find it entertaining. It was sort of ok. Just really not something I feel like playing again… and again… and again…

    I won’t be saying how many hours it took me to finish the game because it’s a bit embarrassing. But In a way I did enjoy the experience, so the longer the better… right? In any case, I really, really, really hope Valve actually comes around to produce a full feature length game sometime before I grow old and die. Because quite frankly this company just doesn’t figure on my life anymore. I mean, there’s so much awesomeness being done out there by other folks, that Valve is just becoming a footnote on my gaming history.