With the Orange Box, most fans were anticipating Half Life 2:Episode 2 as the most attractive reason to buy it. But inside is a hidden gem in Portal, an experiment by valve which is impressive in its own right.
You play the role of Chell, a test subject for aperture science; with the promise of escape for completing the challenges set by GLaDOS, the robotic voice that echoes through the test halls. And these echoes are quite literal, as GLaDOS is the only other character in the game. It’s a one way communication but it gets the job done with entertaining dialogue between puzzles.
Where the game really comes to life is with the elusive Portal gun. It’s a simple idea where you shoot at two places to create a portal from one to the other. Puzzles start off as simple but soon become more challenging and require a bit more thought. Through the games 19 levels there’s lots of variety to keep you interested throughout. Its only going to take a few hours to get through, but it’s a brilliant system that’s definitely worth it. And once you’re done there’s time trials to do, portal limits, and advanced stages which expands upon the regular stages and gives them a new twist. The whole mechanic is simply brilliant, evolving from a simple use of portals to abusing gravity to traverse across gaps otherwise seemingly impossible. The only problem I found throughout my play through were that occasionally you knew exactly what to do, but execution of your idea takes longer than it should. This is a rare occurrence however and does not take away from the overall feel – the portal gun is fantastic.
However, don’t expect it to last you long. It is at it’s heart just an experiment, lasting but a few hours at most. With a sequel on the horizon, Portal is an essential purchase you really should add to your collection. If only it was longer.