By Doug Robson and Ethan McDowell
This month, Doug Robson returns to your monthly video gaming resource for reviews with a new partner, Ethan McDowell. Also, we have a new name for this column: "AFK for Life." If you don't get it, read up on your gaming lingo (AFK stands for Away From Keyboard). The subtitle, "The Cake is a Lie!" shall be explained further on into the article. So,
give us feedback on our new look at LRAFKforlife@gmail.com.
Portal is a game that takes place in the Half Life universe. If you haven't played Half Life and you like First Person Shooters, shame on you. Go out and buy it now. If you can't find Half Life 1, then get the sequel (no it's not called full life or one life). Now first, Portal is only available in "The Orange Box" (360, PS3, & PC) which is $50, and it's five games in one (Half Life 2, Half Life 2: Episode 1 and 2, Portal, & Team Fortress 2). Now in our opinion, Portal is one of the best games we've played, ever.
Portal is a game mostly using--you guessed it--portals. You play as a woman by the name of Chell, who wakes up in a test chamber and is greeted by a robotic voice telling her about the tests coming her way. The robot, named GLaDOS, is the only interaction in the game, for all other humans are gone. You progress through the game with a Portal Gun, that can at first shoot a blue portal that leads to a preset orange portal, but as you progress, you learn to shoot both portals and will go through the game with your own portals and no presets. The first minute of the game is fairly confusing because you're in a room with no exit and for 45 seconds GLaDOS doesn't do anything; then she opens a portal out.
Now in terms of gameplay, this game is immensely innovative, yet easy to pick up and play. You shoot portals to get through various puzzles that, if you slip up, will kill you. Some parts require putting a box on a button, but you can't touch the floor; some parts just flinging yourself across a large gap with a toxic chemical at the bottom. The physics of this game are crazy, but really realistic. Yeah, you're playing with portals, but what these portals do in terms of gravity and momentum is like how we assumed portals would work (e.g., you stand up on a balcony, set one portal above you on a wall and one on the ground, then jump into the one on the ground. You will be flung out the top one at the same speed you were going when falling.)
The graphics are very nice looking. The details are incredible, and the way things look is very sleek (until you see the "behind the scenes" portion of the testing areas). The only thing we found to be an oddity was that if you shoot two portals into a corner on different walls and walk toward them so you can see yourself clearly through them, when you jump, you jump way too high. You're at eye level, and when you jump, your camera moves up, and you are looking at your own waist, which doesn't work. But overall, this is a very sleek-looking game.
The sound quality was perfect with the TV we tested the game on, and the sounds were fitting to what was happening. GLaDOS would occasionally speak to you via speakers, and generally she gave helpful hints, yet had hidden hostility. She promises things to you that never happen, like cake. She will try to deceive you, and it works sometimes. She may sound helpful and cheery, but don't trust her: she still owes us cake. And thanks to her, we'll never see our Companion Cubes again (play the game to learn about the Companion Cube). One good thing about GLaDOS is the end credit song she sings. It is the best end credit song of all time. Found on the soundtrack, YouTube, or in-game, called "Still Alive" by Jonathan Coulton.
Portal is an immensely fun game to play, but it's way too short. If you're smart and fast, you can beat the game in less than an hour, but it's a nice mind game. If this were made into a full length game, we'd review it for you guys in a second. Hold on, a report's coming in: Yes, Portal 2 is indeed in the making. As soon as it is released we'll have it ready for you, the readers. We can only hope that it's available for the Wii.
This is one of the few games that have altered our general minds. Our mental understanding of physics has been warped. We can't ever look at cake again without thinking that it's merely a lie. We can't think about what happened before our Companion Cubes, and we can't stop thinking about its end...
To sum it up, it's great. Play it, it's worth it.
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