?Portal? and ?Portal 2? created by ?Valve? are uniquely contrived puzzle solving experiences. In the first person perspective, the player or players must use a portal gun that fires two sides of a kind of wormhole, allowing the participant the ability to instantaneously change positions in the game environments, referred to as ?test chambers?. The location is a massive new-age weapons development firm known as ?Aperture?, and run at this future apocalyptic state by a very dangerous AI known as ?GLaDOS?.
In the Portal 1 campaign our heroin Chell manages to shut down GLaDOS, but remains a permanent resident of the facility. Respectively as the Portal 2 campaign opens, she is awakened ? after an extensive amount of time ? in her relaxation chamber; this room in a box is apparently one of many that have been neglected for some time. Chell receives a ?courtesy call? from a facility attendant named ?Wheatley?; a ball or core, attached to a management rail; Wheatley seams surprised that she is alive!
Wheatley has a plan for Chell?s escape, but she must begin navigating some test chambers to reach the surface. As Chell?s leading attendant?s plan appears to have some holes, things start to go bad very quickly. They inadvertently awaken GLaDOS, who is then determined to run Chell through testing for the rest of her life; even threatening to revive her corpse for further testing!
As you can surmise, the storyline is interesting, and entertaining, but the real magic is in the puzzles, or tests. The portal concept is a very simple, but new approach to manipulating levels; discovering the capabilities, including gravity, momentum, and projecting lasers and other devices is engaging and rewarding. You are taunted by GLaDOS throughout the test chambers, and the comedic value is full of wit. ?Congratulations. Not on the test. Most people emerge from suspension terribly undernourished. I want to congratulate you on beating the odds and somehow managing to pack on a few pounds!”
The chambers continue, with Wheatley occasionally popping his head in and out, seemingly up to something. Eventually Wheatley manages to cut the power and creates an escape route for you; once again it isn?t a sure thing? or is it? The plan may be something other than the obvious. I don?t want to elaborate because I hate spoilers!
The second half of the campaign has you navigating older Aperture test chambers that seem to be 70?s era projects. They include a repulsion (bouncy) blue gel, an orange propulsion gel that increases your speed, and some white moon dust gel that allows you to create portals on any surface. The puzzles become much more challenging and interesting utilizing all of these new components.
I don?t want to give away any important milestones, or the conclusion for that matter, you must experience it for yourself. It is a satisfying 6 to 8 hours of calculation, in a normal relaxed state. Straight through, knowing all of the solutions, the campaign is about 2 hours.
The co-op game is something else entirely. It is a true definition of cooperation, rather than the idea of more guns blazing. You have to interact directly with your 2nd player, making use of the various uses a portal gun has; almost never using each respective gun the same way. It can be annoying if you are not well matched players, but that only adds to the fun!
This version of testing is dubbed the ?Cooperative Testing Initiative?. It utilizes Robots ? ?Atlas? and ?P-body?; two very odd and very capable test subjects controlled by each player in a split screen, or online mode. Being synchronous with each other is sometimes necessary, but racing each other to realizing a solution for each chamber is an inadvertent bonus. Often times one becomes a slave to the quicker master! Sibling rivalry can be an unwanted side effect.
Death is not possible when playing as Atlas or P-body, you are merely reassembled. Destroying oneself also does not mean starting over at some previous check-point; it is in fact, a necessary sacrifice at times to completing a chamber! Who?s gonna blow up, and who?s gonna be quick enough to make use of their deliberate demise? This game touches on a lot of concepts that would be unnatural in any other story-line.
As the robot test subjects you are required to make use of the blue repulsion gel, and the orange propulsion gel in the latter part of the game. Just as in the campaign mode, they add a unique twist, but also some comedy when the droid bash into walls and such. Again, cooperation is required to use and/or dispense the gels properly.
In the end, you are not trying to escape, but there is an ultimate goal. I don?t want to spoil it, but it is pretty neat, and it lends itself to the efforts of the multitude of developers that worked on the game. Again, you should experience it for yourself.
I personally find magic in all game genres. There is satisfaction to be found in sports games, RPG?s of battle simulations, even fantasy; making a game out of reality or fantasy is to say that the function of the game followed the form. Making a game like Portal or Portal 2 is like building on the root concept of a game; form following function. This is a really cool idea, and begs the question ? what other new challenges can be derived from the mechanics of video game-play?