Valve, you amazing game makers you!
Portal was a little short for me, but Portal 2 made up for that with a lot more puzzles, a lot more new and creative additions to said puzzles, and a brilliant expansion to the story. Frankly, while the entire Portal concept is utterly brilliant, I find myself more attracted to the wonderful story. It’s simple and original, and half the motivation for clearing each puzzle is to find out what happened.
Portal 2 expands on the background of how the Aperture Laboratories came into being. It’s definitely not conventional for the story’s protagonist to essentially be a mere observer, but that’s what the Portal series has done. And it worked, because it can be so boring to be the person who saves the world when that’s the plot of practically of all media, be it games, TV or movies.
The other characters in Portal 2 are basically just Wheatley and GLaDOS, along with the messages of Cave Johnson. And it’s great to watch these characters as the game (and the plot) progresses. After writing for some time, I find myself turning away from flashbacks to do exposition, preferring to use conversation and action instead. And Portal 2 does this brilliantly. Sure, the Cave Johnson stuff isn’t really ‘in the present’, but at least it’s not a flashback either.
It’s difficult enough to convey an entire personality with actors and actresses, who can use their bodies to express themselves. Imagine doing that, but with only dialogue. That’s what Portal 2 did, and it just amazes me. Also, that dark, dark plot hinted at, the dark humour, the sarcasm…man, the story is just right up my alley.
Of course, all that writing brilliance would be pointless if the game sucked; thankfully, it’s awesome. It isn’t too difficult for even the most casual of gamers, has a learning curve that won’t scare people away, and all the new stuff like the gels and the tractor beam are just brilliant. They add a complexity to the game that enhances rather than bogs it down. I actually found Portal 2 a little easier than Portal, but both games provided a lot of entertainment for me.
Sadly, I don’t think there’s going to be a Portal 3. The story did end well though, and there’s replay value to the games once enough time has passed and I’ve forgotten how to solve the puzzles, so all’s well.