It is a good. I can certainly see why everyone raves about it. The mechanics are brilliant and if you listen to some of the commentary you actually get an idea how hard it was to actually make portal gameplay alongside a physics engine.
For those of you not interested in games, portal is about you being stuck in some sort of automated experimentation lab. But don’t fret, they don’t do any of those biological experiments on you, they probably did that while you were sleeping anyway. It’s your task to follow the computers advice and get through the tests in order to get out and get some cake.
Did I mention the computer is trying to murder you?
The dialogue is very funny and is probably the best part of the game and you really have to hear it yourself to appreciate it.
For those of you that are interested in games let me warn you, this is a very friendly game. Of course the things in the game are not friendly, when a gun turret asks if you are there do not politely respond, but there is no real difficulty to the main game and you’ll probably breeze through it in a few hours. People have said that’s a good thing it’s short because then the portal mechanic doesn’t get dry and boring but let’s be honest here, do you want to play short games? Is this what you’ve signed up for? If it is I might suggest there is something wrong with you.
See what I’ve come to understand from games is that they can be long and glorious and that makes them very memorable for me. Sure in some I could trudge through the same god damn mechanic over and over until my eyes fall out, but good games will have a pay off at the end that suddenly makes it all worthwhile. I’m afraid to but I do feel myself leaning back on the old argument for “bang for your buck”, when I buy a game I want to feel like I’ve made the right choice because I do not have infinite cash.
Now reading this you’re probably thinking “But James, portal comes in the orange box right? That’s got like three other games in it!” and you’re right, I would have to say alongside those it is a good deal. Would I ever buy portal on its own? Nope.
Lets also get something out of the way while were here, I am not a shooter fan. Reader... Do you know what it is like to browse the internet for games only to learn that all the new ones are... guess what? Shooters. If you don’t understand my grief let me put it like this, look up all the games your looking forward to and replace them with a new Barbie horse adventure... Do you now understand why I could be irritated?
The only time I play shooters is if it is with my friends, and only because it usually descends into hilarity. I’m actually playing bioshock at the moment, hailed as one of the recent greats, but I’m having trouble wanting to play it... It used to freak the hell out of me but that stopped around the time I found the shotgun (It makes the bad people go away). So leading away from that how much of a valve fan do you think I am? Just think about all the games they’ve made. Yeah. So you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t really care about the sorts of innovations they make for their genre. I did play half-life and it was good... just not the game for me. Also don’t you dare say portal isn’t a shooter, trust me, it is.... Just not the kind people are used to.
Back on topic for those of you looking for some actual challenge there are actually some advanced maps that are very hard. But how long they last depends on your staying power divided by your frustration.
Spoiler’s I guess coming... You can’t really spoil a game like portal in my opinion but whatever:
There are these sorts of secret rooms with writing on the wall about past testers going mad and so on, and then you have the companion cube which... It’s a bit of a weird bit cause their trying to be funny about how people in these sorts of environments would start treating the cube like a person and so on... so when you have to throw it into a fire you get this idea that crazy people would consider it murder...
Honestly? They missed a beat with that.
What I mean is they should have given you the companion cube from the start. Should have set it up in a way that the cube seems almost like your partner. Then it should have given you the choice to throw it into the fire. Games should never pass up the chance to make their audience question their sanity when they feel bad for putting a metal cube in a fire.
If the game also had much more length people could have started wigging out and shit, that would have made it far more memorable.
To sum up my feelings on portal “Wow this is really fun, I can’t wait until they make a game out of this”