My Game of the Year: Portal 2
With so many great games this year, it was tough to choose. There was Skyrim, Uncharted 3, Catherine, so many choices, but after a lot of thought I settled on Portal 2. As I was choosing, I tried to think of reasons why these games should or shouldn’t be nominated for game of the year. When it came to Portal 2, it was the clear winner.
Like many others, I played Portal when it was first released in The Orange Box, and I was surprised how good this small game was. It took me just 3 hours to complete, but I loved every second of it; the gameplay, the puzzles, the humour, all of it was just so good. After such a huge success and many fans wanting more, it seemed only natural that a sequel would be on the way.
After a couple of delays and much waiting, April 19th finally came and Portal 2 was released. Valve once again has managed to take an already great game and improve on it further, it’s bigger and better in every way. From the very beginning, you’re thrust back into the crazy world of Aperture Science, and as usual it’s mysterious and hilarious.
The game looks great; it doesn’t look as good as other recent games but it’s still pretty nice. The Source Engine may be getting a bit old but Valve’s updates and improvements have kept it looking good. As for the aesthetics, Portal 2 is a lot more gloomy than the first but that is to be expected; the facility has gone without maintenance for many years and a lot of the time, you’re either in heavily damaged parts of Aperture or you’re deep underground in the parts that are probably best left buried. The game feels quite different as a result of this change but it certainly isn’t an unwelcome one. Aperture Science in Portal 1 was very clean and neat; it gave the impression of a well-run facility. Portal 2’s Aperture is run down and feels a lot darker; you get to see the true face of it behind the facade. I loved this, I really enjoyed exploring behind the scenes of Aperture Science towards the end of Portal 1, so more of that was definitely welcome.
Of course, one of the most important parts of Portal 2 are the puzzles. There’s a lot more variety with them this time around due to the addition of the Excursion Funnels, Aerial Faith Plates, “gels.” and more. These really added to the game and made a lot of new things possible. The puzzles were highly enjoyable, most of them were a nice challenge, and completing them felt satisfying. Some were a little bit too easy, but with the addition of these new elements, there were also a lot of new challenges.
Portal 2 is just as funny as the original. This was definitely one of the major factors that made me choose Portal 2 as GOTY: it’s quite rare that a game will make me laugh as much as this did. It’s a lot of fun to play too; I thought I’d only play through it once but I’ve completed it four times now. It’s certainly worth a second playthrough just for the developer’s commentary. Much like many previous Valve games lately, there’s a mode that places nodes throughout the game that give insight into the development process. The team talk about some pretty interesting stuff, and it’s great to hear how the game changed and improved over time.
The only real complaint I have is the lack of challenge modes that were in the first Portal. The latest DLC has added one but it’s not quite the same.
Once again, Valve have created another hit. Portal 2 is more than worthy of being game of the year, it’s hilarious, it’s fun and it improves on an already fantastic game. This is truly how a sequel should be done.