||[Jul. 26th, 2011|02:21 pm]
Gamers of Color
One of my friends was kind enough to loan this to me, which I managed to power through over the weekend. I'll skip over the obvious stuff you can pull from the many reviews elsewhere. I'm going to talk a bit about how it's different than Portal 1, instead.
First, it's a longer game, but the pacing is good and it doesn't feel like it drags.
Compared to the first game, they do a much better job of highlighting "What to do next", and rarely did I feel completely at a loss as to trying to find out where I should be looking. This is a pretty big achievement given that they build really massive levels, and sometimes they do punk things like hide the place where you need to drop a portal at a corner view.
At the same time, the puzzles are a lot more constrained. The amount of surfaces you can drop a portal is constrained, and I found it mildly annoying. It meant that solutions to the puzzles where a little easier to figure out- because if you see a surface you know it's going to be used, whereas in Portal 1, sometimes the surfaces were just there. And, it also means it's really hard to come up with anything that can break a puzzle, which is actually one of the most fun aspects about Portal.
Non-spoilery story stuff- they go into the background of Apeture Science, and it's just as dystopian and fucked up as you'd expect. That said, I found the "And it gives you cancer! LOL!" theme... kinda old quick. It actually got me thinking about how few gamers are aware of stuff like putting radium into toothpaste or the Bhopal disaster and how much corporate disasters were not terribly far from the jokes in Portal in terms of gross negligence.
You do get to see a whole bunch of older testing chambers, which makes it even more creepy because you wonder how many people went through all this, and what injuries/deaths must have occurred along the way.
But the most creepy thing? All the other robots and AI's you encounter. It becomes quickly apparent that even the most innocuous automated objects, are, in fact sentient on some level and they're just as trapped in this hell hole as you are. There's numerous points when you happen to find things like air launchers humming songs to themselves or wall panels... dancing. It's really kind of horrifying.
The co-op game is a ton of fun, and sadly short. I think it has some puzzles which are more difficult than the single player campaign, but if you have a friend, it's usually easier to figure out ways to solve them.
Anyway- feel free to get spoiler-ific in the comments.