By William Shelton
Release Date: October 9, 2007
Metacrtic Score: 90
Due to the fact that I’m now back in school full time, my game time has been pretty limited lately. I was planing on reviewing the original “Witcher” with how well the third game has been revived, but I just haven’t had the time. So as the weeks past after posting my review of “Hotline Miami” I begun to get anxious over my lack of content and started looking for shorter game to review. So here we are, I’m reviewing Portal because it’s only two hours long and I could finish it (again) in a single sitting without it eating into my homework or sleep time.
By now you know Portals story. Even if you haven’t played it the games impact was neigh inescapable so I’m sure you know the story by pure osmosis if nothing else (though I think it’s a myth that there are people who still haven’t played it yet). Because of this the game is incredibly hard to talk about. Sure, I could add to the choir of people praising Chell as a non-sexualised female protagonist or I could reaffirm that GLaDOS is one of the funniest villains in recent memory, but you don’t need me for that. It was out of my frustration in dealing with this that I had to ask myself one simple question: was Portal actually a good game, or we’re we too distracted by the clever writing and promises of cake? To answer this I played the game for a while with the sound off, to see if the game play alone would carry the experience. So with out the games trade mark humor, did Portal hold up?
While it’s no secret that the first 2/3erds of the game are tutorial levels the writing and clever puzzles kept the game fun and held players interest. However, once you have to rely solely on the game play the first few puzzles are pretty dull. This makes since for the first couple as the game has to introduce you to the mechanics, but I blow right through nearly every puzzle until the room where you get the second half of the portal gun. And as this is a puzzle game at heart, having such easy solutions kind of kills the mood. Even with the games short length, that still means I wasn’t having much for for nearly an hour. I found that once you get both portals and the turrets are introduced the game beings to shine even without GLaDOS’ presence, but it takes way too long to get to that point.
In the end what you have to remember is this: while it may seem like I’m being harsh on the game, that’s only due to me trying desperately to find a new angle to beat this particular dead horse from. I choose to have a sub-par experience just to give myself something to talk about. When playing the game the way it was meant too it’s still absolutely brilliant. Sure, the fact that the game loads between each level means that the pacing drags a bit and there are a few too many times when a door wont open until GLaDOS finishes talking which I personally found kind of annoying. Whether or not you want to spend $10 on a two hour game is entirely up to you, but it is a grate two hours if you so choose.