Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Portal 2" Review: Still Alive

Three and a 1/2 stars (out of four)
From: Valve
Reviewed for: 360 (also available for PC and PS3)
Price: $59.99 ($49.99  for the PC)
Rated: E10+ for fantasy violence and mild langauge

Once more, down the portal hole. "Portal 2" is the sequel to 2007's critically-acclaimed, first-person puzzle/platform game "Portal." As anyone who watched the end credits to the first game knows, the maniacal computer known as GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, voiced by opera singer Ellen McLain) was not destroyed, but rather lives on to torture the series' silent, human protagonist, Chell.
Chell is awakened out of stasis and, while attempted to flee in an escape pod from the Aperture Science labs, inadvertently restarts GLaDOS.
Another computer program named Wheatly (hilariously voiced by Stephen Merchant, the co-creator of the original British version of "The Office") is attempting a cyber-coup and Chell and GLaDOS are transported deep within the bowels of the spaceship containing that contains the lab. Once enemies, the pair must now work together to restore order to the ship. Well, sort of. GLaDOS is still kind of snarky, but she wouldn't be GLaDOS if she wasn't occasionally tossing verbal barbs at Chell.
Never ever get between two computers as they struggle for supremacy.
As the pair slowly climb their way back up the ship, more of the game's backstory unfolds courtesy of recordings made by Aperture Science CEO Cave Johnson (voiced by "Law and Order" actor J.J. Simmons). It's here that the game provides a biting commentary on modern society, namely just how unwise it is for CEOs of corporations to have unlimited power and money.  It's thought provoking when bearing in mind the current pay discrepancies between CEOs and the rest of us, but I digress.

The gameplay is immediately reminiscent of the previous game. You're handed a gun that makes portals at a press of the button and you use these portals to move in rather unconventional ways through the game's many rooms that grow in difficulty as you progress through the game.
Overall, you're looking at seven to nine hours of gameplay in the single-player campaign. The co-operative two player mode features its own story and will extend gameplay another two or three hours. While that might be considered short by some, each of those hours are entertaining and feature clever writing and dialogue. The game's core gameplay really force you to think out of the box, er, I mean the room.

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