Portal 2 screenshot
Portal 2 screenshot

Co-op, then. As the Laurel and Hardy-inspired droids ATLAS and P-body, it's your job to complete cooperative test chambers under the watchful eye of fellow AI (and creator), GLaDOS. She explains that the idea behind these tests is to observe how well a pair can work together to tackle a shared problem, and she dishes out Science Collaboration points based on your successes.

A running joke throughout the game finds you rewarded with points for successful actions, and penalised for botched jobs - though it soon becomes apparent that the entire system is yet another flourish of the wonderful script. GLaDOS revels in the competition between the two players, dishing out insults to anybody she perceives to be slacking, and praising the other in order to incite jealousy. While there's no narrative to tie everything together as there is in the single player campaign, GLaDOS' commentary on your activities is as amusing as ever.

With each puzzle demanding increasingly complex solutions, Valve has had to implement a means of allowing players to convey their strategies. A Ping tool lets players paint a marker on a surface or object, suggesting that their partner should whack a portal on it. Anybody attempting to play the game without a headset will find this indispensable, but those playing in the same room (the game supports split screen play) will find the tool equally as helpful. It might be simple, but sheer genius in terms of how it permits the simple communication of ideas.

The co-op half of the game is considerably harder than the single player, as far as I'm concerned, which makes sense given the whole "two heads are better than one" shtick. Being stuck on a puzzle was never something that bothered me, however. The process of discussing potential solutions with your partner and trying out different strategies turns out to be the most enjoyable thing about co-op play.

Portal 2 screenshot

Valve knows how gratifying it is to nail a tough puzzle, and prompts players to celebrate their intellectual prowess in game via a gesture system. Pressing up on the D-Pad will bring up your gesture wheel, where you can choose to wave at each other, high-five, dance and even play Rock, Paper, Scissors. It might seem a trivial addition, but - on top of allowing players to interact with one another and celebrate - it really helps bring the two droids to life. I suspect many people will find ATLAS and P-body to be the biggest stars of Portal 2.

Unlike more traditional co-op, you're not just deciding who shoots which alien with what gun; you're carefully planning and executing a very specific strategy, an impossible task unless both players are doing precisely the right thing. It's rare that a game brings together two players in such a way, which makes Portal 2's co-op one of the best multiplayer experiences I've ever played.

I think you knew all along this was going to be great. Fantastic, even. All the same, I don't think you'll be prepared for it being this good. I may have buttoned my lip in terms of concrete spoilers, but a mere ten minutes here will yield more memorable moments than you're likely to squeeze out of the entirety of most other games this year. In all aspects of its design, Portal 2 is genius.

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Highest Rated Comment

Wido's Avatar

Wido

Nice read and especially being spoiler free! I give Jamin major kudos there as I haven't finished Portal 1 yet.

I'm going to play devil's advocate here but my view will heavily focus on Portal 1. I definitely see where the appeal is within Portal but with the harder puzzles coming right at the end (I presuming I am at the end), because I have told people where I am and they say I am not from the end. Anyhoo... I'm on test chamber 17 or 18 either one of them, and starting to make me think more than compared to 15, which was a little brain thinker but wasn't difficult.

Portal just isn't ticking the boxes for me personally what people have been saying about it. Maybe my view will change when I finish Portal and try the master challenges, is it called that?

Looks like I may have to get Portal 2 at a later date when it drops down in price. So many good titles out this year I haven't even thought of Portal 2 at all to be quite frank.

Once again, good read Jamin and thanks for making it spoiler free! Made it a even better read in my position as I haven't finished Portal 1. Bravo! 10+ TU's from me! :D
Posted 12:18 on 19 April 2011

User Comments

altaranga's Avatar

altaranga@ 87Sarah

My copy of Portal 2 should be arriving tomorrow if anyone wants to co-op. Although I did get a 360 copy, not PS3.
Posted 16:01 on 22 June 2011
87Sarah's Avatar

87Sarah

Yeah I don't want to let it go just yet, I'm going to give co-op a go first and the DLC before I get rid of it. Which reminds me about Woffls and (I think it was PB or maybe Portal?) needing co-op player for a cheevo? :s
Posted 15:48 on 22 June 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk@ 87Sarah

Fair enough subjective points. That's a shame - do you still have the game for the free DLC that should be hitting soon?
Posted 15:17 on 22 June 2011
87Sarah's Avatar

87Sarah

I'm not really sure why Portal 2 just didn't grab me as much as I thought it would. the idea of the game is fantastic and the dialogue and characters were great!
I just think it wasn't exciting enough for me. About half way through I kind of realised I'd just been plodding along going through the puzzles not really immersed in the game at all, just kind of getting through it shrugging my shoulders. :)
The ending was great but I just felt a bit indifferent about it all to be honest.

Maybe it's the hype that surrounded it set my hopes too high.

The idea, dialogue and characters, fantastic! Gameplay not so great...
Posted 12:54 on 22 June 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

Oh? Care to expand on your thoughts, 87sarah?
Posted 12:49 on 22 June 2011
87Sarah's Avatar

87Sarah

Unfortunately I don't think so...
Posted 12:48 on 22 June 2011
BLAZER's Avatar

BLAZER

a valve masterpiece.
Posted 09:21 on 22 June 2011
clangod's Avatar

clangod

Cool shirt. Wouldn't mind one myself...

I was expecting Portal 2 to do very well but it's nice to actually read comments clearly written with a sense of excitement and caution.

I went out for dinner last night with some close friends and even though we had a great night and all, I couldn't get Portal 1 & 2 out of my head.

How relieved I was when we decided to come home and the missus was too tired so pretty much went straight to bed :)

It was time to get my Portal on!!!

Haven't played it in ages, along with Half Life for that matter, and I gotta say it's almost a different game for me now. I'm hooked all over again and as a result need to get me a copy of Portal 2.

I plan to wait a little while for a price drop but will definitely be picking it up sooner than I previously expected. It's been over a year since I last booted up The Orange Box and now I'm asking myself why it took so long.

Nice review Jamin. Thank you for helping us help you help us all...
Posted 02:37 on 21 April 2011
dazzadavie's Avatar

dazzadavie

Will pick this up with b-day money in 2 weeks, also might pick up this tee too

Click for Image

You can get it here Shirt.Woot
Posted 16:28 on 20 April 2011
draytone's Avatar

draytone

Strange how its getting such a panning on metacritic... I'd understand some of the issues people may have but some of them seem extremely superficial... the graphics don't compare to something like Crysis 2 but they don't need to.

It looks like a game running on the Source engine and personally I love the look of games that run on it. Why would a game such as Portal 2 need mind blowingly good graphics?
Posted 15:58 on 20 April 2011
87Sarah's Avatar

87Sarah

I can't wait to get mine through the post so I can play through it as fast as I can and then complain the game was too short.

EDIT: Just received mine through the post, thank you VG and Game, just turning it on now. Wooopeeee!
Posted 14:07 on 20 April 2011
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

Do people actually take the user reviews on Metacritic seriously? I'm pretty sure the vast majority of them haven't even played the game they are giving a 0/10 to.

Also, for anyone who has taken a knock on the head recently and didn't get the game on Steam; Game are selling the PC version early because of the early release on Steam.
Posted 11:32 on 20 April 2011
EverTheOptimist's Avatar

EverTheOptimist

Bunch of muppets. If those people, as one troll puts it, were expecting 'the second coming of Christ' of course they're going to be disappointed. As good as Portal 2 may be, it's a game. It's not going to change your life or provide an experience akin to the salvation of the world through a miraculous saviour.

Alright, I haven't played it yet, but I really doubt the people who gave it an average of 4.7/10 are passionate, intelligent and realistic gamers. Saying that though, someone I follow on Twitter (who certainly isn't a troll) said it had so far left him 'cold'.

Anyone here also feel a bit disappointed by Portal 2?
Posted 09:31 on 20 April 2011
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

Oh dear
Posted 05:33 on 20 April 2011
p0rtalthinker's Avatar

p0rtalthinker

Smashing review Jamin. I'm almost finished (at least I think I am...like 5 hours in) and I gotta say so far I am super impressed. I absolutely LOVE Wheatley; he's great, and there are plenty of awesome bits that I couldn't tell ya cause...well yeah just take my word for it they are awesome.

Hit me up on Steam if you wanna play some co-op (PS3 or PC)
Posted 05:06 on 20 April 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Portal 2
10
Out of 10
Portal 2
  • Co-op is fantastic
  • Incredibly well-written
  • Great diversity to puzzles
  • Genuinely hilarious
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 21/04/2011
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Valve
Genre: Puzzle
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 618 7
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