Portal 2

I am not a great believer in sequels regarding visual media. Maybe that’s because it has become the easiest way to tell if a movie or game will be dull or disappointing. Just look for the number at the end and cross-reference your memories of previous installments to come to what is often an accurate conclusion.

Somehow it’s different for books, but I’m pretty sure they’ve been doing it longer. That would be an interesting departure, but I shall refrain from digression.

After being thoroughly let down by Katherine, I thought my next Gamefly game would be Resonance of Fate, something I fully expected to be dirky, but diverting. Instead, I got an email informing me that Portal 2 was on its way.

We dove straight into the co-op, which did a lot to set the scene without ruining the story. And it was a good hint at what awaited in the single player campaign. The only complaint I might have is that after finishing half to two thirds of the co-op, I was able to tackle the single player puzzles with far more alacrity and a faster learning curve, as I was already familiar with new elements when they were introduced.

The dark humour is still evident, but it comes in a wider variety of flavours. There is the straightforward and light-hearted humour in Wheatley’s dialogue, and GladOS has gained a deliciously childish openness to her hostility. But even when neither is present, there is plenty of subtle humour–which is actually available from every source.

The storytelling is well-paced, and evokes not only emotional responses, but emotional participation. I was surprised several times, and found one particular bit around Chapter 4 or 5 (thank you for the failure, memory) that made me feel as if I were truly playing a story-driven game, rather than just solving puzzles for an evil science machine. There is a real feeling of progression and change, and going off the beaten path feels very genuine and in the moment.

I haven’t finished the game yet–I believe I am halfway through at time of writing–but I feel the game has certainly delivered, even if the rest of it is massively disappointing. Like Assassin’s Creed 2, Portal 2 is a good argument for the case of sequels. It has everything that was good about the last game expanded and built upon, new features that give players what they want, as well as what they never thought of, and continues rather than prolongs. Instead of stagnating without stopping, like the pathetic Shrek and Final Fantasy series.

However, let’s hope that the equivalent of the Ezio rut doesn’t happen to Portal, should there be a third installment.

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