(Valve Software for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
Portal 2 feels old and new at the same time. It shines with the polish of a classic game, a relic from the days when a satisfying and replayable single player experience was all it took to win the hearts of gamers. It also reeks of fresh ideas, of a group of minds throwing all manner of far-out (ideas) into the mix and not having them subsequently plucked out of the final product after they clashed with focus group findings.
But it’s also very much a game from 2011, being a sequel to something not widely considered a “full” game and offering a fleshed out co-op experience, the latter of which is pretty much mandatory (for better and worse) nowadays if you don’t want your game to be torn to shreds by reviews and message boards. More so it feels of the modern age because its ideas are fully realized, with high-profile voice actors giving life to unforgettable characters, excellent visuals creating immersive environments, and a rigorous prerelease play testing process ensuring that all gears turn smoothly once gamers have the final product in their hands.
It also helps that, in a time when enough money and rented talent can bring almost any idea to life, Valve’s ideas are some of the most worthy of realization. The story of the facility and the scientists that created the portal gun is well written and well told, and all the more worthy of praise because it’s told not through cut scenes but while you play with that incredible invention, solving puzzles and outwitting your captors. For all their storytelling ability, the creators of Portal 2 are gamers first and foremost, and even if you boil their creation down to its simplest concept of blue and orange ovals, it deserves to be ranked among the classics.