If at First You Don’t Suceed, You Fail: Portal Review


I realize that it’s been awhile since my last post, and I apologize for that. I’ve been rather busy with homework and the World of Warcraft Cataclysm beta. In between all of that, I’ve been playing Portal with my friend Kerrie. We haven’t quite finished the game yet, but are close at test chamber 18/20, so I figured it was safe to review the game and give everyone a break from the WoW beta experience.

First off, let me just say that even though I haven’t even finished the game yet, I’m giving it 5 stars due to sheer creativeness and enjoyment.  With that in mind, let’s start from the beginning.

The title of the game, Portal, comes from the staple of game play which involves your character having to navigate obstacles by using the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (portal gun).The portal gun allows you to create two portals at a time: an entrance and exit. The game relies heavily on physics, so it’s much more difficult that creating portals any old place and running through.

Entrance (blue) and exit (orange) portals.

Portals must be placed in exactly the right spot so that one of many things can happen:

  • Move to the opposite side of something where certain death is between point A and point B.
  • Move around large rooms to activate features such as buttons (time limits, etc.).
  • Move objects into different rooms or locations.
  • Move between platforms.

You get the idea.

You are confined to the Aperture Sciences Laboratory and are “guided” through each test chamber by a rather malicious artificial intelligence named GLaDOS who will occasionally lie to you about what needs to or what is going to be done. However, she will sometimes give you obvious “hints” at the beginning of each test chamber.

The game seems simple enough at first, but as you progress there are some truly challenging maneuvers that require pinpoint accuracy and speed. If you don’t enjoy spacial and strategic planning (as in planning 5 moves in advance) this is not the game for you. The game is technically single player, but as I said before, I’ve been playing with a friend – she is uncomfortable with the Xbox controller but is very good with spatial organization and the physics aspects, whereas I am comfortable with the controller as well as being told what to do, so we work as a team and have done well so far (in my opinion). The only downside to this arrangement is that I feel that in some of the more difficult test chambers, we are always just about to come to blows over how things are turning out.

All things considered, this is a great game and I highly recommend it for anyone that wants a truly unique gaming experience and isn’t afraid to potentially fall out with their friends should said friends choose to get involved. The game is relatively short – about 2 hours if you’re REALLY good at this kind of thing or following a walk through. Kerrie and I have put in about 3 hours so far, as we’ve wanted to work everything out by ourselves – and this has involved a lot of trial and error procedures, but is supremely gratifying in the end.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Thanks to Stefan, who recommended this game – you haven’t been wrong yet. *bows*

For anyone that hasn’t got a clue about Portal, check out the video below.

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