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Average User Score: 8.8Apr 30, 2011First, the positive: The first fourth of the game is brilliant, the second fourth is good, and after the trainwreck that is the next twoFirst, the positive: The first fourth of the game is brilliant, the second fourth is good, and after the trainwreck that is the next two fourths, they manage to recover with an ending that surpasses the original. The writing team was on their game for the introduction scenes and the dialog is witty and well-written, however, many of the gags are repeats or based on the same patterns already established in the original. The gameplay is fun as it introduces the different concepts after GLaDOS's re-awakening.
However, after it finishes introducing the concepts the negatives begin.
The negatives: First, the game was designed primarily with consoles in mind, likely for marketing reasons (you can charge console gamers more and they are more likely to pay it). Unfortunately, this shows in the actual design of the game-- there are no puzzles which require finesse to perform-- i.e. chaining portals while in air to get to a destination. In fact, very few can actually be considered actual puzzles. Often the only difficulty involved in solving these is looking for an obscure section of wall that you can hit with the portal gun. So rather than an intellectual exercise, it's more of an observational one. I am positive that the marketing team, during playtests, had idiots come in and get frustrated when they actually made a challenging puzzle, and so they kept dumbing it down to the lowest common denominator crowd until the element of challenge was nearly all gone.
The gels could have been fun. They weren't. They were poorly introduced and then sort of slopped about levels rather than intelligently integrated into the game. It was a fun concept that panned out poorly in practice.
Then we have the horrible parts of the writing-- basically, whenever the authors attempt to step outside of the bounds of the original and try to make GLaDOS a sympathetic character or "deepen" GLaDOS. It backfires horribly and undermines her core character rather than reinforcing it. The ending manages to salvage this a little, but it still was a very disappointing failure on the part of the writing staff. The obviously predictable "twist: was the worst part of the game. And the hammering in of certain lines "HE WAS PROGRAMMED TO BE AN IDIOT." "DID I TELL YOU HE WAS PROGRAMMED TO BE A MORON." "HE IS A MORON, DO YOU GET IT". Was absolutely painful. It betrays the most important maxim of writing "Show. Don't tell." The entire writing staff should understand that they failed to create a compelling story here. They could have salvaged this easily if they had just considered this: There is something more dangerous than a genius trying to kill you. It is an idiot trying to save you, particularly when the idiot has access to lasers, spikes, buttons, and an entire gadget factory.
The ending, as mentioned, makes up for some of the failings of the game and manages to give us a pleasant send off. However, it's not worth anything more than $30 and they would have made a better game if less Marketing people were involved. The original Portal was good because it was actually brave-- if you couldn't figure out a puzzle the game wasn't going to dumb it down. It actually respected the player's intelligence. This one didn't. At all.
All in all I give the game a 7.6. The original Portal was original. Rather than stand on the shoulder of giants and make something incredible, this game simply puts a hat on something that was already good.… Expand