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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Electronic Arts/Valve
Developed By: Nuclear Monkey Software/Valve
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Players: 1-2
Rated: E10+ (Fantasy, Violence, Mild Language)
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty








June 20, 2011 - I will be the first to admit that I never played Portal, despite the many platforms the title has been released on. Whether it was due to my addiction to FPS and RPG titles at the time or my closed-mindedness to the ideology behind the game, I never got around to playing Portal. However, after picking up Portal 2, I realized that I was missing out on an experience that is truly awe inspiring. April 19th marked the day that Valve turned me into a believer and the day Portal 2 became my best gaming experience of 2011.

For those unfamiliar with the Portal 2, let alone the first installment, you can expect an experience that does a perfect job of balancing "dark humor" and a unique perspective on what a puzzle is through the use of the portal. Through the portal you were able to craft a pathway that gets you from point A to point B; whereas traditional puzzle games would conceived the situation as impossible. These and many other core gameplay mechanics have been brought over from the first installment of Portal in order to be expound upon and have them give birth to awhile new experience.



The story in Portal 2 is roughly twice as long as the first title and picks up a few years after the events within Portal and has us following Chell as she attempts to break out of Aperture Science's labyrinth chambers; a place where extensive testing took place. It seems that Chell was seated for quite some time, to the point where the facility in which she was kept was decaying with age. That old wise saying of “You don't know where you are going until you know where you’ve been" holds true with Portal 2. Through your experience, you will be given a series of moments where you will learn more about your past; about Aperture, in whatever way you choose, allowing the progressing of the story to be in the hands of the player.

Not making it all about Chell, you will also be able to explore the origins of GLaDOS (short for Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System), created by Erik Wolpaw and Kim Swift and supposedly done in by Chell in the first Portal game. GLaDOS is far from dead and is still delivering those classic "matter-of-fact" statements and those witty statements that will have simply have you laughing. Complementing her humor is a graceless robot by the name of Wheatley. These two bring an entertainment value to the Portal experience; which complements the thought-provoking puzzles that you will have to solve along the way. You could say that if Portal 2 was split into two, each experience would fall flat without the other.



Just like in the first Portal title, the portal gun is your best friend. This weapon of choice allows you to create pathways allowing you get from point A to point B; as touched upon earlier. By itself, the portal gun is a formidable tool for solving puzzles, but coupling it with a dynamic physics engine and goo; the experience changes all for the better. You will have moments within the game where you will be tasked with utilizing momentum and various environmental objects in conjunction with the portal gun in order to open up new pathways and exits as you are solving the puzzles. For those new to the whole Portal experience, you’ll be glad to know that the puzzles’ difficulty is ramped up throughout the game, allowing you to acclimate to the title in the beginning, before your brain begins to be taxed with harder challenges.

The goo in Portal two opens up the gameplay to a world of possibilities not realized before. There are two different colors of goo; each having distinct properties that enhance the gameplay. The orange goo creates a slick surface that allows you to travel at insane speeds, whereas the blue goo is designed to be rubbery, allowing you to bounce off of it. These two elements will allow you to reach areas you otherwise wouldn’t be able to, while also enhancing the puzzle-solving parameters of the game, making sure each and every moment within the game is unique and rewarding once solved.



How do you describe an experience that is truly one of a kind? Portal 2 can't be simply classified as a "shooter", while it also can't be classified as a "puzzle-based" experience. From a visual standpoint, Portal 2 is both dull and stylized, depending on how you look at the experience. I'm not saying that there are parts where the game looks downright ugly; I'm saying that utilization of the portals, catapults, cubes, goo and so on brings new life and aesthetics to a room that would otherwise be nothing too special. The special effects within Portal 2 are exceptional, despite an aging game engine. In regards to the audio, Valve knocked this one out of the part. The voice actors behind GLaDOS and Wheatley are a superb job of keeping things interesting in between the puzzles, while offering another layer to the gameplay.

When it comes to experience Portal 2 again, there are several ways to go about it. The first and obvious choice is partaking in the game’s co-op mode. Within this mode, two players would control Atlas and P-body as GLaDOS guides you through several test chambers set up specifically for two-player action. While the single-player campaign is interesting and rewarding in its own right, the co-op mode ramps up the action by having four portals at your disposal, which makes these puzzles unique and even more challenging in some of the ones you come across in the main campaign. Depending on if you have the Xbox 360, PS3 or PC version of the game; you will be able to acquire Achievements, Trophies or Steam points to help you move up the ranks.



Another feature, which is exclusive to the PS3 version of Portal 2, is the ability to play against your fellow PC and Mac gamers, who also have a copy of Portal 2. That’s right folks; Steam is now available on the PS3 console, which is something that will open up the door to many possibilities down the line. A special code comes with your PS3 copy of the game, which allows you to link your PS3 and Steam accounts together. You also receive a free copy of Portal for your PC or Mac, which will allow you to take your game wherever you go and continue your exploits, no matter the platform. You will also be able to cross-platform play Portal two with another gamer (PC and Mac only), which are key selling points and the reason behind the huge adoption of the PS3 version of the game.

What they say about sequels not holding up the original is often enough true, however it doesn’t apply to Portal 2. Everything about Portal 2 is “bigger and better” than the original. You can clearly see that the developers made sure to keep the core of the gameplay from Portal intact, while enhancing every bit of the experience into a deeper, more fulfilling experience for Portal 2. With 2-player co-op and cross-platform gameplay thanks to Steam being brought over to the PS3 console, Valve is essentially “changing the game” and we all thank them for it. Whether you pick up the Xbox 360, PC or PS3 version of the game, you will have a rich and rewarding experience seldom few bring to the table.

9/10


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