The first Portal game was a meme-inducing surprise hit. It was pretty much an indie game, and no one expected it to become this popular. So understandably, the question in everyone’s mind was: “Will Portal 2 be able to top or even match it?”
The First Portal
I first heard of Portal when waiting for Half Life 2 Episode Two. All I knew about it was that it was going to be a puzzle game and that it was going to be good. I didn’t want to play it at first, mainly because I was very lazy and partly because I was playing WoW exclusively. But several months after it came out, there was this huge hype surrounding it. Everyone was praising Portal. Apparently it was one of the greatest games ever made. So I got my grubby hands on it and started playing. But the game didn’t impress me at all. I kept thinking: “Yeah, sure this is clever. Oh, cool trick.” I truly believed the only purpose of the game was for me to go through this series of test chambers and eat cake at the end. I threw the Companion Cube into the fire the second I realized it was what I had to do to pass. But there was no cake, there was only fire.
That’s when I realized the error in my ways. That’s when I realized how gullible I was for trusting GLaDOS. That’s when I realized I am not just a lab rat, I am an actual human being and that I was risking my life for cake. That’s when I realized that there was a world outside of the test chambers. That’s when I realized I had to kill GLaDOS to avenge the death of the Companion Cube, the only friend I had which I have killed without giving it a second thought because of her twisted tests.
So, when Portal 2 came out, I was wondering if it could fill the shoes of its predecessors. I thought that maybe Portal was so good because of the novelty factor, because of the sudden and unexpected surprise of it actually being a real game. There was no way a sequel could have that.
Portal 2 came really close however. There are more characters, more sarcasm, more dark humor, more levels and more mechanics. The storyline is told through gameplay, a thing Valve is well known for. And even though I did not expect the game to give me that sense of joy, the one where you feel like you are truly experiencing something new, it did. I won’t reveal too much of the game’s story and setting because that’s where Portal 2 shines.
The problem with Portal 2 is that I can’t find anything wrong with it. There is literally nothing that I can complain about. Which is generally a good thing, but in this case it is bad. It is terrifying to look at a perfectly made game that is obviously at its full potential and think there is something missing. Portal 2’s problem is not found within the game itself; Portal 2’s problem is that it has only one competitor: the first Portal. So when comparing Portal 2 to Portal, Portal will always win, with Portal 2 in a very, very close second. Not because of some special formula or some important factor, but just because it came first.
Admittedly I did not play through the co-op campaign which is apparently good as well. But since all my friends are dead I had to do with the single-player campaign. Although I doubt it would have made that much of a difference, because I am comparing the single-player experiences here.