This is the first review from what I'm calling the WGG Review Crew. It's how EGM used to do reviews back in the day of the magazine. Please post feedback and let us know what you think. It will take quite a bit of work to do reviews in this style, so if you like it please say so and we'll keep doing them.
The Good: Amazing story, voice acting, co-op
The Bad: It ends
The Interesting: PS3 version comes with a free Steam copy for PC/Mac
Boss Kowbel: Four years ago, Portal set the video game industry ablaze with its originality and unique concepts. Portal 2 builds upon its predecessor's foundation to deliver one of the most refined and polished experiences in any video game to date. Together with a panicky AI core named Wheatley, the adventures of Chell continue as she is put through her paces once again by a reawakened GLaDOS.
The scale of gameplay has been ramped up this time around, but the pleasure derived from solving the more complex test chambers remains in full affect until the end credits roll. New mechanics ranging from various gels to lasers and tractor beams allow players to navigate the environments in ways never thought possible, leaving many gamers scratching their heads as the solution dances blatantly in front of them.
The voice acting and writing set the bar high above the prequel. While GLaDOS' quips are still entertaining and never fail to elicit a chuckle, J.K. Simmons as Cave Johnson and Stephen Merchant as Wheatley steal the show.
Players still hungering for more mental challenges will find satisfaction with the excellent co-op campaign. With little tie-in to the main story, players needn't worry about spoiling any of the major plot twists. Teamwork is key, and a clever ping tool helps ease the confusion, but poor timing often means the difference between success and failure. Here, puzzles not only put your brain to the test but your partner's as well.
Simply put, Portal 2 is an incredible experience. While the game may lack instant re-playability, the immersive story, imaginative writing, witty humor, and engaging co-op ensure the game will remain in gamers' collections for a long, long time.
iWINuFAIL: Portal 2, Valve's latest product, is their finest work in quite some time. The original Portal was an exciting adventure, though afterwards I couldn't shake the feeling that it was more an experiment than a game. It was a beta, and Portal 2 is the final product.
The story is much more fleshed out this time, with some new characters thrown in, and writing that is as both sharp and funny. While it won't take long to play through the single player, the time that is spent on it is nothing short of quality.
In addition to building on the story, Valve has taken it's original concept of the Portal gun and built heavily upon it, adding in four new gameplay elements which make for some very interesting and engaging puzzles. My personal favorite were the Excursion funnels: one-way energy 'elevators' which can be navigated around the environment using portals, as well as reversed using a switch.
Of course if the single player isn't enough, Valve has included a superb coop game. Where this mode fails in providing the same laughs and drama of the single player, it succeeds in taking full advantage of the four portals at work, with test chambers far more devious than even the hardest of the campaign.
Many claim Half-Life 2 to be Valve's best game. While that is certainly the best shooter ever made, I feel overall GLaDOS takes the crown from Gordon Freeman.
Dan Broadbent: Clocking in at around 10 hours, the single player of Portal 2 delivers on almost every level. It's fun, challenging, hilarious, and extremely well polished. It takes you on an exhilarating ride through Aperture Science. From the familiar test chambers of Portal, to the perfectly preserved, Rapture-esque, original Aperture Science facility, the environment is never boring. Portal 2 is an achievement in video game storytelling. Because the writing and voice acting are so good, they are able to make the player become emotionally attached to characters with only a voice over the loud speakers.
“If I just put this Portal over here, and you put that one over there... YES!” Portal 2’s Co-op mode is brimming with these moments of accomplishment. What it lacks in story it makes up in mind-bending puzzles. The puzzles are harder than the single player, but working through them with a friend really adds a lot to the experience. I’d recommend playing with a friend you get along with because it not only requires teamwork, but it requires having someone who isn’t killing you every step of the way.
What makes Portal 2 really stand above other games, is that it does everything great. It doesn’t tack on extra modes or features just for the sake of having more content. It focuses on what it does best; story and puzzles.