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Thinking With Portals

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011 by

You have to hand it to a game like Portal; a game that manages to propagate itself so deeply into popular culture that even people who’ve never played it know what it’s about. The cake? Yeah, it’s a lie, as grandmothers across the globe are well aware. Portal is just that emphatic.

As someone who largely missed the boat with the original Portal, I’m finding Portal 2 to be a fascinating little puzzler. It takes the first person perspective, something I’ve usually found to be annoying and, at times, nauseating, and manages to make it as awesome as it is crucial to Portal’s ingenious nature. I can’t imagine playing Portal 2 any other way, nor would I want to.

Portal 2 is very much an anti-shooter, which works out well for me since I generally stay away from FPS. It’s less about killing people and more about contemplation. I mean, I guess if you want to get technical… you do hoist a gun around in Portal 2, and spend almost all of your time staring down the barrel of said gun. But the similarities end there. Except, I guess, for those parts where you get shot at and need to take cover. Wait, where was I going with this?

Who cares. My point is this: Portal 2 has a gun. And you shoot it. At walls.

In trying to describe Portal 2 to friends and family, the best explanation I can come up with is “You have to think with portals, mothafucka.” Coincidentally, that also happens to be a catchphrase of sorts that’s plastered all over the game’s box. I know it’s a lazy way to explain the unique and compelling challenge that Portal 2 has to offer, but it’s hard to do better in so few words.

I’ve no idea how far into the single player campaign I am, but I have to say that the time I’ve spent with Portal 2 thus far has been time well spent. Playing a game like this to the finish won’t be a chore, by any stretch of the imagination, and with any luck, maybe I’ll convince the wife to tackle the co-op campaign with me. Then again, knowing my wife’s disdain for three-dimensional physics and platform-based portal puzzles, maybe not.

About the Author

Mark A. Brooks uses the A. initial in his name so as to seperate himself from the teeming legions of other Mark Brookses (there are at least 65,000 in the state of Michigan alone). Keep up with him on twitter, because why not. @unoriginalG

Mark A. Brooks has written 615 posts on Delta Attack
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  • Markham Asylum

    If you can’t find a partner for the co-op campaign, I wouldn’t mind playing through it again. Perhaps we could work out a get-together for the purpose.

    BTW, you can get the original Portal on the PlayStation Network. It’s almost as good as the sequel.

    • mulletsaurus

      I checked around and it looks like the only way to get Portal for PS3 is by picking up the Orange Box. If it did hit the PSN with trophies, I’d snag it in a hearbeat.

      • Markham Asylum

        Ah, sorry, I was thinking of Portal: Still Alive, which apparently only came out on XBLA. I guess that and Blue Dragon give you at least two reasons to perhaps get a 360 someday.