Late 2 The Game – Portal

posted by Andrew Cross

What can be proclaimed about Portal that hasn’t already been said by the devoted followers of this little game that could? It’s unique. It’s clever. It’s fresh as hell.

For the life of me I can’t figure out why it’s taken until the recent release of its sequel to make me finally buckle down and play it. I mean hell, I’m a huge Half-Life fan. Why I didn’t buy The Orange Box when it came out in 2007 is down right ludicrous looking back. In any case, just getting to Portal now, my impression is that I missed out on a really awesome house party with top-shelf alcohol and the hottest ladies. I feel like I just walked through the front door of Valve’s house, the night is nearly over, most everyone is passed out, the DJ has moved onto slow jams, and my night feels like a total bust. Then, Portal walks over to me. Sweaty, flushed, and in high heels that have been burned down to twigs from all the dancing she’s done that night. She takes my hand and asks me to slow dance to Still Alive, the song that plays over her credits. I end up going home happy.

For those of you who still don’t know, Portal is a first-person shooter from Valve that has only one “weapon.” The portal gun; it does what it’s called. You make your way through a demented laboratory/maze using portals that can instantly transport you from one place to another. Your destination is up to your discretion, as the gun can shoot its portable doorways almost anywhere you point the gun. It’s a game about puzzle solving and reaching an exit unscathed. While trying to do this, you’re heckled by an unseen female computer voice (named GLaDOS) that is twelve kinds of crazy. It’s though her voice that Portal’s masterful wit is presented. The humor is sarcastic, dark, passive-aggressive, and soaked in irony. Just the way nerds like it.

As a total package, Portal has little to no flaws. Calling it a short game could be seen as a determinate (it took me 3 hours to complete), but I see it as being the right length. I had heard the puzzles are either easy or ridiculously hard. I found them to be challenging, but not overly so. I think the real challenge comes from figuring out every possible solution and then formulating the quickest approach to each, which gives Portal some great replay value. The controls are tight, it looks good, and has that same quality polish you come to expect from Valve. The only thing I found to be a let down was the Companion Cube. What is the big deal about this thing? You slap a heart on a box, have a fanatical A.I. tell you to love it, and people treat it like Ryan Adams.

So, I’m glad I finally got Portal out of the way. Now if you excuse me, I have to go buy Portal 2 so that I can get in on the revelry with everyone else this time.

Developed by: Valve
For: PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3

Friday, April 29th, 2011 at 8:00 am