Now that I’ve completed Portal 2’s single player missions, I’m ready to give you my full review. Is it too short? Is the story poor? What can I share without giving spoilers? So many questions.
For starters, I did blow through the game in around four hours, so yes it is a rather short game. As I wrote in my Portal 2 argument article, shorter doesn’t always mean worse. In this case, if the game were much longer I may have gotten worn down by it. As is, it’s the perfect length for me. Just as one element of the game began to grate on me, Portal 2 would introduce a new item, feature, or gimmick to keep things fresh. Valve has always been the master of pacing but this is unprecedented, even for them.
The characters are priceless in their personalities and dialog. This is one game that I could see myself playing again just to enjoy the characters a second time. Wheately, your personality orb companion is fun for his bumbling antics but starts to get irritating just in time for a plot twist to take him out of the story for a while. Said plot twist leads to a trip through the old Aperture Science building’s ruins and what starts out funny winds up tragic with a revelation that changed out I thought of the game and it’s characters. That’s great writing, in my mind.
The finale wrapped the game up and seemed to signal the end of the series, which was mildly depressing. The end song, Glad you’re Gone, is no Still Alive but is easily better then the songs in most games.
The game’s controls are solid but in my opinion have times where they’re too slippery one minute and too sticky the next. Valve seems to have special cased some ledges to allow you to walk out and look off of the easily without falling while leaving others perilously easy to fall off of. I’m not sure I’m a fan of that since you don’t know which ledge you’re walking out on to until you get on it.
Visually the game is slick and shiny – even in the rusted ruins – with clean sharp lines and the engine never breaks up at all. I was able to run it with maxed antialiasing and anisotropic filtering on my less-then-modern rig, which means that this is a very well optimized game. My biggest complaint lies in the loading times. I hate – no, I loathe – loading screens, and you get one after every room you finish here. They’re not long but they’re still irritating as hell. I greatly preferred the original’s more Half Life-like streaming loading system to this and it’s my biggest knock on the game.
Of course, if loading screens are my biggest problem with a game, it’s doing pretty well. I have to say that this may be the best game I’ve reviewed this year. It’s got tough competition with Dragon Age 2, but I think it’s up to the task. Portal 2 is an early candidate for game of the year, so don’t miss it.