We’ve played the opening section of Portal 2 – who wants to read about it?
For those unfamiliar with the franchise, Portal was the critically lauded title from developers Valve, originally found in their deal-of-the-century offering, the Orange Box. The game combined extremely satisfying, and at times mind-boggling puzzle solving with the wicked sense of humour that has become the hallmark of Valve titles. With some dissidents seeing a sequel to such an overwhelmingly popular title as unnecessary; Valve have a lot to live up to with their latest incarnation.
Fear not, dear reader, this preview steers well clear of ominous spoiler country, but what I will say of the narrative is that it won’t disappoint. Largely following on from the end of the last game; you begin equally as bewildered by the surroundings and goings on within Aperture Science’s research lab. From there the narrative kicks in, as events necessitate you following the commands of a friendly personality sphere as you attempt to escape.
Perhaps the most striking facet of the opening of the game is the humour, and the excellent voice work of Stephen Merchant forms a prominent part of that. Whether he had a hand in writing his lines or if it’s the humour of Valve’s writers striking once again, there were several laugh out loud moments in the twenty minute section we were shown.
Much like the original Portal, the puzzles at the beginning of the game are somewhat rudimentary; used to allow the player to familiarise themselves with the surroundings and physics of the game world. Pretty soon they begin to ramp up in complexity, and with it the fundamental satisfaction of feeling the game mechanics working to help you solve the puzzles laid before you.
There’s also a certain amount of nostalgia to be had within the initial areas of the game. The world feels both familiar and totally new simultaneously, which is an impressive feat. Several of the test chambers are in fact taken directly from the original game, although notably in something of a transformed state. This new-but-familiar theme will go a long way to please both newcomers and veterans of the series alike.
Graphically the game is quite a step up on the original. The muted colour palette of Portal was eye catching, and the minimal graphics in general have meant the game has aged extremely well. Portal 2 takes the familiar locales of the previous title and transforms them, giving the opportunity for more variation in terms of colour. Also, everything looks a lot crisper. Playing the PS3 version, which is bound to be somewhat inferior to someone playing on a top end PC, the game truly did look great.
The good news is that you won’t have to wait much longer. Portal 2 is set for release on April 21st in the UK. Look out for the full review here on newbreview.com.
- Tom Wallis