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Review: Portal 2 (Xbox 360)

Monday, April 25th, 2011 by

portal 2

Building on its predecessor, Portal 2 sets the bar even higher with new gameplay mechanics, a lengthy single-player campaign with an engaging story, and a brilliant co-op campaign.

I admit that when I first heard Portal 2 was going to be a full-priced game at $60 on consoles and $50 for PC, I was skeptical. However, when the chance arose to play through the co-op campaign with IkeCube, I couldn’t resist, and I’m glad I didn’t. Portal 2 is definitely worth the cost.

For those who haven’t played Portal, the basic premise is that you can create two portals on various surfaces. These portals allow anything that can fit to pass from one to the other, including you. The game consists of a series of chambers that must be solved one after another. Some mechanics include moving platforms, buttons that turn equipment on or off, objects to hold down those buttons, and turret bots that shoot on site. Momentum is preserved when going through a portal, so flinging yourself or objects through the air is possible and often required. Falling long distances does no harm due to the special boots your character is wearing, although plummeting into water means death. Both games contain a dark sense of humor.

New Mechanics

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Those who have played Portal will notice that most of the mechanics of the first game return, while many new ones are added. Among the new ones are flingers that will propel you straight up or forward at an angle; lasers (aka “thermal discouragers”) that can be redirected via lens cubes to receptacles that trigger devices; light bridges that extend indefinitely and stop matter from passing through, so they can be used to walk on, catch objects, block turrets, etc.; tractor beams that move matter forward (or backward via switches); and gels that coat surfaces for various effects: blue makes things bounce higher, orange gives things increased velocity, and white allows portals to be made.

Single-Player Campaign

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This campaign takes place years after the events of the original Portal. The story grabs you right from the start and offers many surprises throughout, but I won’t give anything away. The locales you’ll visit are intriguing, clever, and awe-inspiring. Valve did a great job designing the levels for this campaign: the puzzles rarely feel as though they were recycled from the first game.

Knowledge of the first Portal’s story is recommended before playing this campaign. It takes about 10 hours.

Co-op Campaign

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This two-player adventure features the robots Atlas and P-body. Each can create their own color-coded portals: purple/blue or red/orange, so it’s easy to tell at a glance whose is whose. You can also ping locations for your partner to place portals and trigger a countdown mechanism for parts that require tight timing. You might assume that with four portals at your disposal the puzzles would be harder, and you’d be right. While playing through this campaign, nearly every chamber required ideas from both IkeCube and me. I can’t recall the last co-op experience I’ve had that was so much fun.

The story for this campaign is interesting but nothing special compared to that of the single-player campaign. The story of the single-player campaign makes reference to that of the co-op campaign, but you can play them in either order. The co-op campaign takes about 6 hours.

The Bottom Line

If you liked the first Portal, you will enjoy Portal 2 as much or more. If you haven’t played the first but are intrigued by the second, then either play Portal or read a plot synopsis and then experience Portal 2 for yourself. It’s well worth your time and money.

portal 2

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See Portal 2 co-op in action:

Platform: Xbox 360
Also available for: PS3, Windows, Mac

About the Author

Markham Asylum is a founding member of Delta Attack. His tier-1 favorite genres are role-playing, puzzle, and strategy. His tier-2 are adventure, shooter, and platformer. He strives to provide spoiler-free postings whenever possible.

Markham Asylum has written 422 posts on Delta Attack
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  • mulletsaurus

    Looking forward to playing this one.