Portal 2

Valve steps up this time, not only to provide a great single-player experience, but to cater to the bleak outlook for local multiplayer.

Platform: PC/Xbox 360/PS3*
Genre: FPS/Puzzle
Players: 1-2 (Online: 1-2)
ESRB: E10+ (Fantasy Violence, Mild Language)

Portal 2, like its predecessor, is something one has to play to understand. Explaining it to a friend makes it sound thoroughly drab and unexciting. Fortunately, this is far from the truth. Portal 2 offers one of the best video game experiences out there.

The formula remains about the same: manipulate the portals to reach the end of the levels. Valve has tossed in some new features including hard-light bridges, excursion funnels, and several goos that bounce, accelerate, and allow for putting a portal wherever the player can get the goo. These new elements fit seamlessly into what is otherwise, following the first portal, old hat.

Where this game shines is the voice acting and writing. No one can deny that GLaDOS’s banter in the first Portal was one of its memorable qualities. Hoping on board for this title is Stephen Merchant of “The Office” (U.K.) as Wheatley and J.K. Simmons (“Juno”, “Spider-Man”, those “We are farmers, bum ba-dum bum bum bum bum” commercials) as Cave Johnson.

Wheatley is an Aperture Science core that helps you along your journey. His character is fantastic and will be remembered for a long time. Merchant voices him flawlessly, showcasing a wonderful versatility. I have to be careful here to avoid spoilers.

Cave Johnson is Aperture Science’s founder, appearing only in recordings. Simmons provides his sarcastic and authoritative voice, which feels like it influenced GLaDOS to an extent. Without ever meeting the guy, the writers at Valve get the player to still feel emotionally attached to him. Both of these actors plus fantastic writing make this one of the most hilarious and engrossing games you’ll play in some time.

I won’t go much into the single-player to avoid any spoilers. While you don’t have to have played the first title, it does make the second one more enjoyable. You’re still Chell, and you’re still making portals.

The co-op, an unrelated and relatively independent story-line, follows robots P-Body and Atlas. GLaDOS directs the two through a series of puzzles that can only be completed with two players. The co-op is available both locally and online, which is awesome in a world very devoid of local multiplayer and true co-op experiences.

The gameplay is flawless and the Source engine hasn’t aged a day – it still looks great. This is easily one of the greatest games available, and at an already dropped price, there’s no excuse not to pick it up. I honestly have no complaints for this game. Not one.

I think this is a first?

Bottom Line: 10/10

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