Posted by TJ on 1/9/2013Tags: Fun, Opinion, ReviewsPortal

Let me tell you a little bit about something I like and enjoy.

(Warning: spoilers for Portal and Portal 2 follow)

One of the things I have been enjoying in my precious few spare moments after my work is done for the day and the kids go to bed is Portal and Portal 2. A friend of mine had our family over for the evening a few weeks ago and he introduced me to Portal. Of course I had heard of it before. But in my mind somehow it was linked to first person shooter games and the like. I’m not into those so I never thought to check out Portal.

But Portal is not a first person shooter. Sure it’s played in the first person, which I don’t usually care for. But that’s about as far as the similarities go. Portal and its successor, Portal 2, are essentially puzzles that must be solved with differently positioned portals. The portal gun you carry can shoot two differently colored portals, orange and blue. Think of the colors as corresponding to sides. If you go in an orange portal, you come out of a blue portal and vice versa.

Portal is actually a fairly short game, especially when you play it the second time around, but it’s been a long time since I had so much fun with a game. The plot is fairly simple. Your character, Chell, wakes up from what is apparently some sort of stasis sleep, and an AI tells you that testing is ready to begin. A portal opens, you go through it and begin advancing through the stages of “testing”. As you go, the AI (if you know Portal’s story and lore you know her name is GLaDOS) seems to get more and more menacing until finally, she leads you to a chamber of fire where she intends to kill you. But you portal up and go behind the scenes, eventually finding the nerve center of the AI and destroying her.

Words cannot do this justice, solving the puzzles, advancing, figuring out how to kill the AI is so much fun.

Portal 2 is a much longer, and even more fun and satisfying game. In Portal 2, GLaDOS is resurrected from her destroyed pieces. Wheatley, another AI we meet, is trying to help you get to GLaDOS control room. When you get through GLaDOS’ testing with Wheatley and show up in her chamber, another computer voice announces that a corrupted core has been detected, but a new core has also been detected and would you like to install it.

After installing Wheatley and ousting GLaDOS, Wheatley seems to be corrupted by the power, and drops Chell down a shaft all the way to the bottom of the facility. Now you have to make your way back up to the top and face off with Wheatley. This is the heart of the gameplay and it is even more fun than the original Portal. Along then way you meet up with what’s left of the GLaDOS core, now powered by a potato battery. You and her ascend back to the top to face off with Wheatley. Wheatley has gone stark raving mad and once you get back up to the facility proper, he begins testing you in a similar manner to GLaDOS, only much more deranged.

In the end, after a battle with Wheatley, he is sucked into space by firing a portal at the moon.

None of what I am writing here can convey just how much fun both of these games are. They are available on a variety of different platforms, including Steam, and I can’t recommend the game highly enough.