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First Impressions: Portal 2

Posted by: John at 4/19/2011 7:26 AM
As I fired up Portal 2, I reminisced about how much fun I had going through the initial puzzles on my way to using all the knowledge I acquired to defeat GLaDOS. Now, Portal 2 was finally unlocked on my computer and I couldn't wait for another go around with the maniacal computer.

Portal 2 starts out a little different yet very similar to the original. The one great thing in regards to the voice acting is the hiring of Stephen Merchant to voice the little robotic eye helper, Wheatley. He comes in and right off the bat, you know you're going to get some great lines from him as you progress throughout the game. After waking up from a very long slumber, you're thrust into very familiar settings.

Time has not been kind to the test area and you go through some of the same tests as the first game initially, although in a very dilapidated test setting. Those that never played the first game will use this time to grasp how the portal guns work, while veterans of the series will use it to brush up on their portal shooting skills. Even though the first few levels were the same, I didn't mind going through them again just to warm up. You won't be led by the great voice of Ellen McLain through the first few levels though, but the voice acting for the computer that talks you through the tests isn't bad. You know Ellen's voice won't be silent for long though.

Sure enough, just as I was about to get tired of the testing phases, Wheatley leads you to an area that will kick start the new phases of Portal 2. If you played Half-Life, you probably did that "Oh hell" look and feel when you worked on the experiment and pushing the cart started causing everything to go haywire. I didn't get as big of a reaction, but Wheatly leads you to an area that gives a very similar feeling and that's when you come back face to face with GLaDOS. And this is where I stopped as I wanted to have some time to get through a good chunk of the game.

The look of Portal 2 isn't a revolution over the first game but more of a refinement. The added use of vegetation and broken down mechanical parts adds some character to the bland and clean look that the original game had. I didn't mind that the game's graphics aren't vastly improved as it's more about the gameplay. I did play some of the game using3D Vision and it does add some nice depth when in use. There are some minor issues here and there where the 3D effect looks off, such as an area where you fall into some standing water and looking down, the reflection of the ceiling started blinking. Some minor crosstalk is in effect as well in certain areas, but it looked mostly clean in the first few levels I played.

I am looking forward to more of Wheatley, since he does seem to bring a lot of great comical relief to the setting. I always had a little eerie feeling in the first game with just GLaDOS talking to me so it's a nice change to have a companion in the second game. Wheatley seems like a great addition so far from the first hour or so I played.

Being a person who's finished Portal a few times, I was very happy to see what GLaDOS has for me next. I stopped in what seemed to be a place where the game's about to take off in a different direction from the first. The gameplay, so far, has been the same as the first game, but it looks like it's about to change. I'm excited to see what new tests and objects I am going to use in my quest to defeat GLaDOS again and I'm excited to see what the final has in store for me. And of course, I'd love to see if there's really cake in the end as well as a song that can match or come close to Still Alive.