The Games Of Christmas ’11: Day Ten

By RPS on December 10th, 2011 at 11:39 am.


“Feed the world. Let them know it’s Christmas time.” But I’ve only got six dining room chairs, Bob. “I don’t care. I’m too busy thanking God it’s them instead of my friend.” I hate you, Bob.

Ah, the Christmas classics. Not talking of which, what’s the tenth game in our NOT IN ANY ORDER list of the best games of spaceyear 2011?

It’s… Portal 2!

John: Portal 2 was this year? Blimey – it feels like forever ago! So long since the joy of an utterly exquisite game, and the ensuing misery of dealing with the utter idiots who made so much tedious noise instead of waving their arms in the air with happiness.

I had fears for Portal 2. Portal was such a perfect morsel of a game, such a perfect length and so very, very smart and funny. Its puzzles were remarkable, the most refined learning curve I’d ever experienced, a smooth, clean ride with that wonderful surprise twist two-thirds through. But Portal 2, missing the first game’s lead, Kim Swift, looked like it was going to get cluttered. Gels and beams and bridges, at least twice as long, multiple off-screen characters, potatoes… I feared feeling bombarded, overwhelmed by a desire to be more complicated than the original, to ramp things up. I didn’t want clutter. And I didn’t get it.

I originally played the game at Valve’s new offices in Seattle. I’m not a big fan of review trips, because you can feel hurried, or worse, surrounded by the people who made the game. That’s never an issue at Valve – they let you in, show you the route to the snack room and toilet, take a lunch order and put you in a dark office with a PC. There’s no fussing, no PRing. After chatting with Erik Wolpaw about why he thinks I should have kids as soon as possible, I was uninterrupted for two days (beyond being joined by a barely speaking chap to play the co-op with on the second afternoon). It’s pretty much how I’d have wanted to play the game if I were at home. Except without the inevitable distractions. And with a snack room. That had peanut butter M&Ms.

But it meant I could just sit, focus, and play. I recommend that next time Valve releases a game, go play it at their offices. I’m sure they won’t mind. And the relief that this wasn’t anything like I’d feared the game might be, and the delight that it wasn’t anything like I’d hoped it would be, was exhilarating. It was far more of a story than I’d expected, with puzzles that definitely were more complicated than the original, but introduced to me in such a way that it only ever felt logical. I wasn’t expecting so many songs. So many astonishing moments. GLaDOS in a potato. I wasn’t expecting such a ridiculously, wonderfully eccentric ending. In fact, I never did get around to writing an article on why that final boss fight was such a wonderful moment, so defying every expectation, putting the gags and the joy ahead of any boring repetition.

And another thing that has been talked about a great deal, but I don’t think properly appreciated, is that Portal 2 was a comedy game. There are almost no comedy games. There are games that are sometimes funny, and there are games that are horrible at trying to be funny. But Portal 2 was, by genre, as much a comedy as it was a puzzle game. That’s a painful rarity in this immature industry, but ho-boy was it proof that it can work when you have the world’s best writers and animators putting the effort in.

It’s easy to forget to remember Portal 2, weirdly. Its lack of bombast, its calmly brilliant nature, and the fact that they didn’t start talking about Portal 3 the moment it was released, allows it to become a moment in time, rather than a constant presence. Thinking about it to write this makes me want to go back, revisit that time.

Adam: Aperture Science, under GlaDOS’ demented stewardship, was cold, clinical and focused. Portal’s test chambers alluded to the world outside, which itself was contained, in some oblique way, within the already established world that also contained Black Mesa, but most of what the player knew about the company and its facilities was based on suggestion and expectation. The portal gun itself is an incredible piece of tech, but GlaDOS’ takeover and the mundanely sinister pointlessness of many of the tests suggested there had always been something rotten at the heart of Aperture.

Even if it wasn’t mad science, it was certainly bad science.

Portal 2 is the story of Aperture science, and all that was bad and mad about it. There are tests to solve and daring escapes to survive, but it’s the memory of the company’s dubious and eventually disastrous history that has stuck with me. When I remember the first Portal, I think as much of the confused glee of falling triumphantly through a hole in the floor as I do of cakes, companion cubes and that outro.

The sequel, despite the addition of faith plates, gels, lasers and light bridges, doesn’t have a brain-bending moment equal to the first interactions with the portals themselves. Well, maybe the final portal but that’s brain-bending of a different sort.

There is still brilliance in the design of many areas but what can at first seem to be designs of enormous scale and imagination often become a case of looking for the correct angled surface to emerge from. Generally at high speed. The solutions feel more signposted, less reliant on the mad potential of the portals and more on the specific uses of the other inventions, as well as the crumbling yet perfectly positioned architecture of the lower levels.

That’s as planned though. This time around, the puzzles are subservient to mood and character. The tale of Aperture, hinted at so suggestively in the first game, is not only told in great detail, it’s relayed in rare style. The journey through the company’s various eras is spatial but the effect is of a temporal trip. Valve, in a game about fringe science, give us time travel without actually giving us time travel. Cave Johnson, as entertaining a creation as GlaDOS, even mentions that there is a chance of disturbances in time. A self-referential murmur that is also a gesture toward other possibilities.

Blah blah blah. Enough of that. I haven’t even mentioned how goddamn funny it all is. Think of a film released this year that was funnier than Portal 2. I can’t. The writing and acting serves every character well, from the three big players to the busted turrets, and it’s all done outside the stop-and-start structure of a traditional adventure game. That allows the timing to feel more natural and it’s impressive, given the sheer amount of speech, that it’s almost always spot on.

While Portal 2 doesn’t have the momentum of a traditional adventure, it feels more like an adventure game than a puzzle game. The emphasis on story and dialogue, the use of puzzles to punctuate narrative discovery and as aids to the writer rather than distractions – these are all things I associate with the increasingly broad church that is ‘adventure games’. John has said before that such things are “like an inevitability, an unavoidable direction for things to head toward”.

Perhaps Portal 2, with its playful intelligence and serious comedic intent, can be seen as joyous evidence of that tendency.

Alec: It’s rare, in this grimdark age of SHOOTING MEN SHOOTING MEN SHOOTING MEN to find a blockbuster videogame whose primary tone is ‘charming’, but the Portal games seem to exist in a bubble universe where cheer, not violence, became the playing public’s chief thirst. Portal 2 wasn’t short on homicidal AIs, but at least they all wanted you to like and respect them before they murdered you.

The part I most remember is near the start, where you’re jumping fruitlessly on a bouncepad and Wheatley’s in the ceiling jabbering cheerfully away but you only catch every other line he’s saying. It’s straight out of a Carry On or Inspector Clueso movie. Everyone’s in mortal danger, but at the same time it’s all jolly hockey sticks.

Portal 2′s full of mini-gags like: scripted up the wazoo of course, but done in such a way that you feel you’ve stumbled into them rather than had someone roughly grab your chin and make you stare at something. I’m not quite so convinced it’s the puzzle game it could/should have been (so much seemed so signposted and inflexible), but it was an excellent journey into mystery and back again in the company of memorable, likeable characters. Even if they were all bastards to a tee.

Plus it made me see Stephen Merchant as something other than a growth on the side of Ricky Gervais’ ego. Best Bristolian accent in a videogame ever?


Jim: Perhaps unsurprisingly, what excited me most about Portal 2 was the architecture and the environments. At a time in the history of games when we seem to be faced with slightly shinier versions of the same old corridors or cityscapes, it was fascinating to be able to see a game in which the enclosed environment could, while basically using technology only incrementally pushed along from Half-Life 2, nevertheless be so cleverly constructed, so threatening and at the same time jocular. It seems unlikely that any game released in 2011 will match Portal 2 for architectural inventiveness. The subterranean facility in which the game is set is a Lebbeus Woods drawing given satirical life. Its test chambers, constructed from mechanical arms ending in blank panels, can be seen rebuilding themselves, breaking and folding, and even tidying away debris before settling down to become just another featureless floor or wall. It’s is an absurd extrapolation of the functionality found in purpose-build facilities, to the point where it becomes surreal.

It is not the conceptual gymnastics of Portal 2′s architecture that makes it so special, however, but rather the way it normalises the impossible idea of connecting two points in space via portals. The idea of connecting two points in space goes almost unnoticed after the first few moments of the game, and with the light bridges, the lasers, and the gels, we soon become lost in the long silent spaces of thought and experimentation that sat between the GLADoS and Wheatley’s sinister sci-fi pantomime. It’s so well explained, and so comprehensible, that the puzzles become natural, instinctual explorations of the environments. That such an astonishing game mechanic is now just another trick in videogaming vocabulary is sort of humbling. Not just because it means games are gradually earning the kind of repertoire of mechanics they deserve, but also because of how rapidly we accept and internalise physics-defying imaginative leaps. What was once impossible is now just another tickbox in game design. Only Valve makes these kinds of changes look easy.

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67 Comments »

  1. CaLe says:

    This was my game of the year.. then Dark Souls happened and that replaced this. Then Skyrim happened and.. yep! #3 for me.

    • Icarus says:

      Replace ‘Dark Souls’ with ‘Human Revolution’ and yep, that’s pretty much how it’s gone for me.

  2. EvilMonk3y says:

    I believe Portal 2′s main achievement is its use of humour. It is such an incredibly difficult thing to pull off full stop but in a video game the issues you face must become even more problematic. As John mentions there are so very few genuinely funny games (I would argue this may have been one of the first, it is as much a ‘comedy’ game as it is a puzzler).

    Great game overall, I am looking forward to the new fancy level designer coming out soon (hopefully).

  3. Rinox says:

    GOTY for me.

    • Chibithor says:

      Same here. I love Human Revolution, Skyrim and various other titles this year, but Portal 2 takes the cake.

    • EmS says:

      absulutely correct and anyone that thinks otherwise should rethink because portal 2 hasn’t got a real weak spot
      you might not like wheatley you might not like puzzles but it still is nearly without flaws
      its entertaining challenging and nice to look at without using a massive graphics engine
      its probably the best coop experience I’ve ever had and the dlc for this was free and pretty good as well

      mainly i want it to get the GOTY badge because it shows the industry how its done and not with online passes and lots of mediocre dlcs that cost 10$ each

      skyrim is flawed in lots of ways (ui – no blocking with one hand exempt shield – buggy – low res textures – etc) and its still good
      deus ex is flawed (boss fights were utter shite and the levels were quite often just not big enough to give you enough freedom and they cut too much from the game ) and it was still good

      the only problem with portal 2 is that the original title is unbeatably good

    • Synesthesia says:

      yup, same here. Cave johnson made everything better.

    • Carra says:

      Game of the year for me too. It’s just so clever and it makes you feel clever yourself. Plus the humor, more games should be this fun to play.

      Second and third place are both indies, Spacechem (it’s just so brilliant) and Orcs Must Die (I thought Sanctum was fun until I played Orcs must die, it’s ten times better).

      Disappointment of the year: Dragon Age 2…

  4. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    It was quite good.

    • westyfield says:

      The game that critics are quite literally calling ‘Portal 2′.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      First there was Portal. Now there is 2 of it.

  5. pmanpman says:

    GOTY – more fun than skyrim even if it doesn’t have the play hours…

    It is the only game that I have ever felt completely lived up to the hype

  6. D3xter says:

    This is going to be soo disappointing and predictable when SKYRIM makes the 24th…

    • mrwonko says:

      “Ah, the Christmas classics. Not talking of which, what’s the tenth game in our NOT IN ANY ORDER list of the best games of spaceyear 2011?”
      From this very article.

    • CaLe says:

      It would be well deserved if it is their collective favourite.

    • D3xter says:

      “Here are the rules of the calendar:

      1. The games are in no particular order, except number 24, which is our game of the year.

      2. That means that number 5 and number 17 are on an equal footing as a game of the Christmas, do you see?”

      Directly from this article: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/12/01/the-amazing-rps-advent-calendar-2011/

      So Skyrim is obviously so much better than any other game ever made, because it it is, do you see?

    • meatshit says:

      I’d put my money on them using the official release of Minecraft as an excuse to make it the game of the year again.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      I’m guessing they’ll hold back Deus Ex and Skyrim til the last 2, for a bit of “is it, isn’t it?” tension.

      And thinking about it RPS are just as likely to give it to ‘To The Moon’

    • phuzz says:

      The fact that so many decent games came out this year for us to argue about which is best, is a fact worthy of celebration, non?

    • EmS says:

      agree to the moon deserves a little poke to raise some awareness because it was a beautiful experience and I’m happy i paid money for the game and am eager to see whats the next game will look like

      and I’m eager to see what he’s gonna do with the ending hint

    • D3xter says:

      @EmS: What that game needs is a Steam release, cause this is the first time I heard anything about it xD

  7. Vandelay says:

    Huh.. my long message didn’t post!

    In short:

    - Funny game
    - Co-op mode ace

    • McDan says:

      Exactly! Well written that man. And you guys (John etc) forgot to mention the huge ARG that went on before it. Which I thought was fucking brilliant.

  8. Squishpoke says:

    Portal 2 is definitely Game of the Year.

    Anyone who says otherwise must be flayed alive with the backside of a spoon.

    • thegooseking says:

      For a long time it seemed like the only contender, then a raft of brilliant games came along all at once.

      So we have to think about what GOTY really means. Is it just the best game that was released this year, or is it the game that, when future people think about 2011, they will remember?

      Portal 2 might be the former, but it’ll definitely be the latter.

  9. bear912 says:

    I think Portal 2 might be my game of the year, though I’d have a hard time choosing just one game this year. I feel I must state that I agree with your sentiments on Portal 2′s map design. Valve has some of the best mappers on earth, and the creativity demonstrated in Portal 2′s environments (not merely as an area to flow through, but as place, a mad construct of crazed utilitarianism) brings a smile to my face. It mitigates the strange uneasiness I see when, even in games I love, map design and architecture are thrown together as an afterthought.

    I’m also pleased to hear that Valve let John play alone, at his own speed. Valve has an incredible mastery of pacing (which, fortunately, they seem to realize), and it would be a shame if they had marred his experience of it by rushing him.

  10. PearlChoco says:

    “I’m not a big fan of review trips, because you can feel hurried, or worse, surrounded by the people who made the game. That’s never an issue at Valve – they let you in, show you the route to the snack room and toilet, take a lunch order and put you in a dark office with a PC. There’s no fussing, no PRing. ”

    I really, really wonder why Valve does these kind of things.

    Are they really Good people in a true, Non-Evil company?
    Do they deliberately do this to boost their gamer-friendly image?
    Maybe they don’t believe the extra PR’ing would actually influence the final review scores at all (maybe they did experiments to test this)?
    Maybe they are so extremely confident about Portal 2′s qualities they feel they don’t need it anyway?

    Or maybe RPS lied to us and all press review trips are like that?

    • bear912 says:

      I’d like to believe they’re also good people in a non-evil company, but they’ve probably convinced me of this using the findings shown by detailed, in-house statistical analysis of what makes consumers believe companies are non-evil and their employees good. Valve does that kind of thing, sometimes, I imagine.

    • Urthman says:

      I’m not sure they’re non-evil so much as smart.

      It just so happens that smart often has a lot of overlap with non-evil. Unfortunately most people are too dumb to realize it. Evil is often hard to distinguish from stupidity.

      They treated John the way they did because it was “The Right Thing To Do.” And “Right” there equally means “good,” “smart,” and “correct.”

  11. airtekh says:

    I really enjoyed Portal 2. Would have been my GOTY if not for Arkham City just pipping it at the post.

    The single player is hilarious and the co-op is phenomenally good.

  12. Jimbo says:

    Cave Johnson for CEO of the Year. I didn’t think the game itself was all that. It was ok.

  13. DocSeuss says:

    I was kind of horribly disappointed by Portal 2. The dialog was funny and all, but neutering GLaDOS by making her not-actually evil kind of ruined the first game for me, since so much of my joy was derived from beating someone who was clearly evil.

    Then you had the puzzles, which were so much less inspired. Portal made me feel smart. Portal 2 made me feel stupid until I realized I that most of the puzzles were actually INCREDIBLY EASY. I was looking for, like, actual puzzle solutions, but “nope, just shoot a portal through this hole, Doc, and you’re done” or “look for a portalable surface far, far away and that’s all you need!” seemed to be the design philosophy.

    Also, flinging didn’t seem to be as much as a thing. I don’t think I did a single puzzle involving flinging (despite what the initial trailers indicated!), and I distinctly remember an area in the game where flinging simply wasn’t a viable option, and you had to do a far more bland “shoot a portal on that surface, shoot one on the wall behind you, walk through, ta-da!”

    It… felt like it was designed with controllers in mind because flinging often requires a level of mouse accuracy that consoles simply can’t provide, I guess…

    • gganate says:

      I kind of agree. The presentation was excellent and the level design was cool, but the actual puzzle solving wasn’t very difficult. It was a ten hour game as well, which is fine, everything doesn’t need to be a 40 hour rpg, but I spent less time with Portal than pretty much any other new game I played this year.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah. I don’t really lament the demise of the likes of that horrible room of platforms in P1 where you had to redirect your momentum near-flawlessly something like five times in a row, refiring portals while the camera twists and tries to gimbal lock because you come out upside-down and start to flip over—fast, precise action not really being what I’m after from a puzzle game, at least not as a critical path in the singleplayer rather than some bonus aside—but P2 feels like a game that never really got up to speed with its potential. It was a very long (and very well-produced) introduce-the-mechanics without really getting into the meaty now-employ-the-mechanics.

      There was a little of that in the late game against Wheatley. But not really enough.

    • Wisq says:

      As I recall: The “horrible room” is actually made pretty easy by the fact that you basically have infinite time to line up the shot, since if you don’t fire at all (or miss), you’ll just go back through, fly just as high (yay lack of air resistance!), and come back out again to try again. And since the platforms are surrounded by non-portalable surfaces, missing just means going back for another try, not coming out someplace weird (like in acid).

      Yeah, the camera control is a pain, but lining up one shot on the fly with infinite time is a lot easier than some of the “come out horizontal at high speed, portal the floor where you think you’ll land” momentum puzzles from the test chambers.

  14. Inglourious Badger says:

    Fair enough. It’s good but not as good as Portal, and not quite the game of the year, probably 3rd IMO. Portal was such a perfect little package I’m still a bit amazed Valve tried to sequel it.

    Question: At the end of April how many people assumed this WOULD be RPS’s game of the year? I’m guessing everybody? What a year it’s been!

    And I now really want to visit Valve’s snack room, I picture Willy Wonka meets Aperture Science, with Mars Bars arriving through transparent air tubes protuding from shifting wall panels?

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      I agree, I’m glad it’s not RPS’ game of the year.

      It’s reassuring, since there have been better games.

    • CMaster says:

      Half Life Snacks. Eric Wolpaw is either brilliant at keeping a straight face, or a very disturbed individual.

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      Ahhh, excellent.

      For such a funny writer Eric Wolplaw seems quite a … serious guy

    • Urthman says:

      Eric Wolpaw is absolutely jerking your chain in that video. It’s exactly as hilariously pathetic as his “reports” on E3 used to be.

  15. DigitalSignalX says:

    A masterful game, and it seems clear the writers “love letter” for it above in comparison to the more formal writeup treatment other games on the calendar received should remind us that it likely was very close in the running for GOTY. It certainly was in the top 2 or 3 for me.

  16. xp194 says:

    See, I will quote a thing I read on the internet to sum up my feelings about Portal 2:

    “I wish I could forget ever playing it. So I can play it for the first time again.”

  17. Lambchops says:

    Portal 2 was great fun, really enjoyed it.

  18. Tainted says:

    Portal 2 is my game of the year. It’s a genuinely funny, superbly presented gem of a game. I’ve really enjoyed quite a few games this year but none of them have given me the same consistency of sheer enjoyment as Portal 2. Although the experience only makes me pine for more games from Valve…

  19. sinister agent says:

    I recommend that next time Valve releases a game, go play it at their offices. I’m sure they won’t mind.

    Righto, RPS holiday, everyone?

  20. Tams80 says:

    Oh, come on! Being treated like kings by Valve and then announcing one of their games as one of the best of the year. RPS is clearly bias, corrupt, you name it! Peanut butter M&Ms?! You sell yourself for so little John.

    /sarcasm (as some on this site really can’t detect it)

    • The Pink Ninja says:

      All sites dude, this is a text based medium.

    • Wulf says:

      Well, it obviously does have an effect. But the thing is is that generally Valve tend to treat everyone like human beings. They’re good to people in general, full stop. They have faith in their audience in general that I lost a long, long time ago, and only gain back rarely in small doses.

      What it’s evident in is how they do their best to consider people.

      I made a point in a thread on the forums that whilst there are developers that don’t give a damn about accessibility, and gamers which don’t help the situation by not being aware for the need for it (and then screaming at devs with anti-accessibility demands), Valve aren’t like that.

      See, think of their new prompts.

      People have gone on and on about those. Those things that pop up to show you where things are in the environment, like weapons, ammo, buttons, or whatnot. I remember the first reaction to that, even on RPS, and it resulted in people carrying on in the comments about how stuff like that shouldn’t be in a game, how it was ‘dumbing down for consoles.’ They didn’t have a clue. Poor clueless sods.

      It wasn’t dumbing down or anything to do with consoles. It was like how Valve make things colourblind friendly, how they have closed captions for everything, how they have audio and visual indicators for low health (which are obvious), and so on. They’re for disabled people. It’s called accessibility, and it’s something that probably only one in one thousand developers cares about.

      And I know from personal experience that that number is pretty damned accurate.

      Valve have this air of… consideration. They give a damn. It’s weird, really, and it goes against everything I know about capitalism. They don’t need me to tell them to give a damn, because they just do. And then there’s the fact that I’m not the richest person in the world, but there are people even more poor than I am. Then I see how little they asked for Portal 2 in their last sale and I think it’s remarkable. Do they even make any money? And yet they do.

      Valve just don’t fit with my ideas of what capitalism is, or what a game developer is, or any of that. They’re real stand outs in the crowd. Most developers are going to listen to gamers who scream for a tiny UI and leave it at that, and they’re never going to really bother to discount their shit. One example of this is (and I’m going to be hated for this, but someone has to call it) The Witcher 2.

      Now, The Witcher 2 was a great game. But CD Projekt RED just didn’t care about accessibility. I did poke them about it, but… eh, they aren’t Valve. The majority of gamers don’t give a damn and most of them would tell me to shut the hell up about my needs and not to hassle those nice, saintly people. So with that going on, why bother? They’ve satisfied the majority of the audience by making an interface that you need to be an eagle to read, and that’s that. And they haven’t done many great sales with it on GoG, either.

      I think this might be why it didn’t sell too well. Despite it being a brilliant game, they just don’t have the ethos of Valve. I couldn’t really run around shouting about how great The Witcher 2 was because I had to stop playing it a little way in due to eyestrain. Then I just started watching videos of it to see how the rest of it went.

      I’m kind of hoping that Larian won’t do the tiny UI thing with Dragon Commander, because the console UI looks nicely visible. I’m going to have to mail them and ask them if they’d pop in an option to use the console UI or whatever they’re using for the PC, just so that I won’t have to drop Dragon Commander. But then they did a fine job with the interface for Dragon Knight Saga, so maybe I’m worrying about nothing there. Still… I want to play DC.

      Anyway, the point is this: Most developers are happy to let me know that they don’t give a shit.

      It takes a developer cut from a special stock to stand up and say that they see you, they recognise that you have accessibility needs, and they’ll do all that they bloody can within their power to make their game playable for you. Valve is one such developer.

      It just shows a level of care that I’m not used to from devs.

      That matters.

      So I think that one’s opinion of how a developer treats people should come into the opinion of the game, yes. I think it always will impact it. If you have a developer that looks out solely for the interests of their stockholders and their largest demographic and no one else? Well, that’s probably going to impact views of the game negatively. But if you have a developer that looks out for their audience and treats their audience like human beings? That’s going to have an inverse response, a very positive one, isn’t it?

      Valve don’t just treat journalists like kings, they treat everyone that way. I wish more developers were like them.

    • Tams80 says:

      @ The Pink NInja
      The RPS community are usually quite good at detecting sarcasm (and puns; mainly puns) in text form. Recently it seems to evaded some though.

      O hell. Didn’t expect a Wulf wall of text. =S

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      @Tams80

      NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPA…er, Wulf Wall of Text.

  21. RogB says:

    cant stand gervais, but managed to love merchant’s wheatley VO (i didnt even know he was doing it as i’d avoided all news of the game before release)

    one of the most (seemingly effortless) funniest games i’ve played, ever. I loved every minute of it.

    (also, it took me ages to work out that Cave Johnson’s voice actor was the military bloke from Malcolm in the Middle. (yeah, i KNOW!))

    • Bret says:

      He… wasn’t.

      Cave was voiced by the one and only J.K. Simmons. Played Jolly Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man films. Lot of other things.

      I mean, that includes military roles, but Spengler on Malcolm was Daniel von Bargen.

    • RogB says:

      ahh how wierd, I got the voice -> face right (it was JK i was thinking of), but for some reason thought he was the dude in MitM when it is indeed someone else entirely. Yep, Spiderman is a far more obvious role.

  22. Urthman says:

    I think it’s still worth avoiding spoilers because it would be a crime to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t played it yet. But I just want to say I was certain they couldn’t make an ending as good as the first one, but they did. The ending dialogue in Portal 1 was funnier (so much so I purposely let myself die the first time through because I didn’t want cut it off), but Portal 2′s ending made me feel great, made me want to immediately replay it, just like the first one.

    Actually I thought the humor in Portal 1 was the one thing they didn’t quite match in the sequel. Portal 2′s dialogue was smart, charming, and amusing — it frequently made me smile — but it didn’t make me laugh out loud nearly as often as Portal 1 did.

  23. Bugste81 says:

    One of the Strongest years for games in a while. Portal 2 my Game of the year.

  24. Shadram says:

    What? How did this not win? For the first time in a very long time, RPS, you are clearly wrong! “Opinion” be damned, Portal 2 is quantifiably the best game of the year. I proved it myself, using Science.

  25. Talon says:

    I had such an amazing time with the co-op; it really felt like single-player was the ‘oh, hey, this is how you do things’ and then co-op was the meat and bones of the game, and I have no objections to that. Thanks, Valve, for a job well done.

  26. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution is my game of the year (hell, quite possibly all years) but that doesn’t mean Portal 2 isn’t among the best games ever made.

  27. Navagon says:

    I still don’t know if this is my GOTY or not. So much competition this year! But one thing’s for certain and that is that it’s really one damn fun game. Utterly enjoyed all of it. Especially the coop.

  28. Mungrul says:

    I only noticed yesterday thanks to Kotaku that the omnipresent Nolan North voiced the Space core and the defective turrets. Those defective turrets were one of my favourite bits in the game :D

  29. fritz says:

    It was a very solid game but ultimately forgettable.

  30. Sardukar says:

    Outshined by DXHR, Witcher 2 and now Skyrim, from my perspective, but in it’s particular way, just as good as those. Not my favourite, but certainly excellent.

    Tragically I have now blocked John Walker as he hasn’t played and loved STALKER. Game-traitor, I call thee, sir. Game-traitor.

  31. Dhatz says:

    that linked article is pretty absurd, calling it a shitty port because of one language file.

  32. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Hello, and welcome to this Aperture Science Interactive Electronic Entertainment Product Endorsement.

    Portal 2 is the sequel to Portal, the game in which the player was given cake and nobody tried to murder the player by raising the player’s body temperature by 4000 degrees celcius.

    Please note that the Aperture Science Hand-held Portal Device will again be your primary means of interaction with the environment, but this time the challenge has been modified. To put it in terms you will understand, the challenge has gone from “chunky salsa” to “peanut butter”. The Aperture Science Plot Exposition and Entertainment Generator has been overloaded to deliver a superior narrative experience.

    In controlled experiments 96% of test subjects laughed out loud during the execution this Interactive Electronic Entertainment Product. The remaining 4% were found to be dead from neurotoxin-related trauma. Aperture Science disclaims and denies any and all responsibility for injury or death incurred during or subsequent to testing procedures.

  33. Davie says:

    Without spoiling a thing, I will say that Portal 2 had the absolute best ending of any game I ever played. God, that was awesome.

  34. bill says:

    GOTY for me, but that doesn’t mean much as i haven’t played many games this year. Co-incidentally, it’s the ONLY game I paid full price for this year.

    It’s a great game. It’s not as good as Portal 1, but I was very worried about it and it turned out pretty darn good. Valve do make these things seem effortless.
    The reason it’s not as good as Portal 1 is that it doesn’t have the same freeform puzzles, everything is a little too linear, and there’s a “right” solution for each puzzle. But to it’s credit it’s done so well that you rarely notice how much it’s signposting you.

    I loved Glados and Wheatly, and I loved the way it took you back through the history or Aperture, but I thought the weak point was the Cave Johnson section. It was the most obviously signposted, with spotlights pointing to every goal and surface to hit. But mainly the Cave Johnson character was too OTT for me.
    GLADOS and Wheatly are crazy and OTT, but they are crazy AI constructs. Cave Johnson is supposed to be a real human being, and at the beginning he comes across as one (allbeit a slightly mad one). But as the section progresses he just becomes a completely insane comic caricature. And I was wondering why his whole staff didn’t just quit after 1 day. Funny and well acted, but too big a stretch for me.

    I also can’t help but be sad that so many people say the real Poratl-1 style magic is in the co-op campaign – something I’ll probably never have a chance to experience.

    Yay for portal 2 though..

  35. thatcity says:

    this is my GAME OF THE YEAR ,followed quite closely by Skyrim (that has a bit too much bugs imo)and then Batman:arkham city (didn’t play it with dx11).
    what really impressed me was the fact that at the end of the game one of my first words was that i had more fun with this that even in half life 2,and this is a huge achievement to me..