I've played through Portal a couple of times now, and I thought I'd post my thoughts on the game. Along with Half-Life 2: Episode 2, this was one of the two items I was most looking forward to in The Orange Box. My review of Episode 2 will come later this week, as I have only played through it once, and I'd like to give it at least one more going-over (I can't wait to write about it though; there's so much I want to talk about). For now, let's talk Portal.
- Hilarious Dialogue
- The dialogue in the game is well written and very funny. The writer's should be very proud of themselves; few games are of this caliber. One downside to this is the fact that GLaDOS's voice can be a little difficult to understand at times. I highly recommend turning on subtitles when you play through the game the first time; it will make understanding her much easier.
- Innovative Gameplay
- Portal is such a unique concept. Although Prey used the portal concept, it wasn't nearly as well executed as in this game. Being able to shoot entry and exit portals nearly anywhere you want is a really great touch. I can't wait to see where Valve will choose to use this technology again.
- Ties to the Half-Life Universe
- The storyline in Portal is loosely related to the Half-Life universe. In fact, having played through both this game and Episode 2, I am beginning to wonder if we won't be seeing Portal technology in Episode 3. The ties between these two games may be stronger than is now apparent, and only time will tell how closely they are related.
- Interestingly enough, the PC version of Portal includes Achievements (as most X-Box 360 games do). This is a nice addition to the gameplay, and it will be interesting to see if Valve continues to include this idea in future titles.
- End Credits
- Best end credits sequence ever! And an accompanying song by Jonathan Coulton seals the deal.
- Short Gameplay
- Portal is only about two to three hours long, which is a bit of a disappointment. The advanced levels and level challenges (shortest time, fewest portals, fewest steps) add a little replayability, as does the developer commentary (which is highly entertaining). But the main storyline is short (though the twist in the storyline is highly entertaining). Once you've solved the main puzzles, and you make it past the storyline twist, there's little reason to play through again.
- Easy Difficulty
- The majority of the puzzles seemed quite easy. I didn't truly feel challenged until test 15 out of 19, and though the last few levels were a challenge, I never found myself hopelessly stumped. The advanced levels are much more challenging (and stumped me for a while), but there are only 6 of them. Hopefully more will appear over time.
Bad points aside, I can't recommend this game highly enough. As a part of The Orange Box, it's an even greater deal. This is definitely a title you should pick up this year. You won't regret it.