Recently released ‘Portal 2’ retains charm of previous version, includes harder puzzles

Singer/songwriter Jonathan Coulton wrote the main theme-song for the original video game, “Portal.” The song, called “Still Alive,” was one of the most famous songs to be featured in a video game. The first couple of lines of the song go as such: “This was a triumph / I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS / It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.”

These lines perfectly described my thoughts of “Portal.” It was an amazing first-person puzzle game that made me laugh, cry and break GLaDOS’ heart. There were so many things that I loved about “Portal” — the mind-bending puzzles, the Companion Cube, the time when I was going into the fire pit and more.

When I heard about “Portal 2,” I was afraid. I was afraid of how they were going to make a sequel with harder puzzles while maintaining the charm and allure of the original game. After playing “Portal 2,” there’s only one thought that went through my mind: ‘This was a triumph. I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS. It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.’

“Portal 2” sees Aperture Science in disrepair after Chell, the first game’s protagonist, “killed” GLaDOS, the AI antagonist. After spending hundreds of years in stasis, Chell was awakened by Wheatly, a Personality Sphere in charge of caring for test subjects. When the two accidentally bring GLaDOS back online, they must work together to complete tests and stop her from killing them.

The story of “Portal 2” couldn’t be any better. The writing team was able to create a rich history for Aperture Science by making the company itself a character. The first section of the game shows Aperture Science maintaining political correctness even in apocalyptic circumstances, but later players see a different company when they enter the older facility.

This great story of the company is complimented by witty humor delivered by fantastic voice acting. Stephen Merchant, Ellen McClain and J.K. Simmons all shine as the voices of Wheatly, GLaDOS and Aperture CEO Cave Johnson, respectively. Their performances, coupled with the incredibly funny dialogue, made me want to keep playing and solve the puzzles just to hear what they were going to say next, and the result always had me laughing.

Some dialogue took me a while to hear, however, because the puzzles of “Portal 2” in the single player and cooperative modes are more complex this time around. Valve does a really good job of gradually introducing puzzle elements, making the puzzles a little harder every time until all the elements come together. When that happens, the game becomes “perfectly challenging.” The puzzles can confuse you for quite some time, but Valve usually has simple solutions that will have you hitting yourself. My sister and I spent 45 minutes on a puzzle where all we had to do was hit each other to drop down and land on a platform. It was a face-palm-worthy moment.

My biggest complaint about the game is the frequent loading screens, which says a lot about “Portal 2.” In a market of first-person games that hardly innovate, “Portal 2” stands out by delivering a mind-bending, hilarious and incredibly fun experience that never gets dull.

A single player mode that is funny, challenging and unpredictable, coupled with a cooperative mode where communication is essential and the puzzles are even harder, both add up to not just a great game, but one of the best games of the year.

SCORE: 10/10

_Derek is a sophomore in DGS._