Portal 2 Review

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.

Score: 98/100

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.

SCORE: 9.5

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.

Score: 10

Semblance's picture

A good concept, especially since David and Boss Kowbel do great reviews already. I would definitely read this regularly if you decide to continue this.

RYNO's picture

love the review style. keep this up for more games and ill start to use this instead of IGN

Pavan's picture

I would also continue to read this if you continue to do it. 

Wait you got along with John...


I think this is a fantastic first attempt. As you gain more experience youll get better over time though so i think you should definitely continue this. =)

Ballistic Berez's picture

Great reviews. Keep this style of reviews up :D

Veemon3449's picture

I don't have the game, but this review made me start thinking.

Henke911's picture

I am a bad person who review games my self and NEVER (almost) read others reviews.
But actually this time i was dragged into the text and i read everything.

I think i will read and enjoy everyone you write from now on.

brodyitis's picture

I like this review style. It would be even better if you could figure out a way to collaborate more with the other reviewers.

explicit_baron's picture

EGM's style is a good one that OPM has somewhat adopted with the number scored but, 3 reviews is a better way to go. Will the 3 reviewers always be the same or will you just pick the best written reviews among our users?

pfro's picture

Keep the style, I'll give this game a 9.8 after just single player and a little bit of coop. A must play. Your style makes me want to blog reviews to make the crew.

Dan Broadbent's picture


It won't be the same 3 reviewers everytime.  It will probably be based on who wants to review which game.  Ideally there will be a bunch of people on the crew.

JoesShittyOs's picture

Yup.  I think even extra to an outsider of the website who now has multiple people reviewing the game instead of the norm with one guy and an X-amount paycheck.

Red_Baron2011's picture

I definatly like how you can have multiple reviewers rather than just one. That is definatly woth it. One review tells you one angle. Three can give you more to agree and disagree with, which people want. And some poeple like certain critics reviews. 

Johnny Lightning's picture

I really enjoy reading reviews in this style. I feel with site such as Gamespot et al. that I get bored after the first page of text. Its like, "Shut up. Tell me if I need it now or not dag nabbit!"

Besides, getting to read different styles people have when writing and reviewing a game is always a fantastic voyage into how different people process the same material.

The only complaint I have, and it really is just personal preference, is when scoring gets a bit esoteric. I mean, what part of Portal means it lost 0.2 of a point? It just seems nit picky to focus that much on a game. Even scoring things as a 0.5 always sat the wrong way with me.

But its probably just me. I was never the biggest fan of numbered scoring anyway. I understand it is a nessasary evil, but for me I always like just reading the review. That is what tells me if a game is good or not, not the number at the end.


All that said, good reviews from all. Even if I hate the numbers, I still can tell from the writing that the game is excellent (I already knew that, but still, I love having my opinions validated on the internet).

Inzom's picture

This a great concept

Josh Kowbel's picture

Thanks for all the great feedback guys!

@Johnny Lightning: I do agree with you. I don't enjoy scoring a game, but that is all some people care about. For clarification, I score games on a .5 scale, so a 9.5/10 is the closest to perfect a game can be for me. I found going on a 1.0 scale is not specific enough, but when rating games on anything less than a .5 scale, things do start to get nit picky. If my scoring method needs to be reworked somehow, then I don't have a problem with it.

dabanhfreak's picture

it would be pretty sweet if you guys edited out clips of your own gameplay and made video reviews

explicit_baron's picture

@Dan Broadbent sign me up for Duke Nukem, I don't buy many games as soon as they release but, I think I will with Duke Nukem.

stretchconrad's picture

I really enjoyed this feature!  It's always nice to have multiple viewpoints on game reviews in one place.  I would be more interesting, however; if this was done on a game with more diverse viewpoints.  Anywho, just wanted to say great job and I'm looking forward to more of these!

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