Portal 2

Portal 2 Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PC

Full-fledged follow-up to the first-person puzzle game.

Review Verdict Read Review
10Out of 10
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The following review is spoiler-free.

Fear not: this review has been the subject of endless scrutinisation to ensure that you, our cherished reader, do not have one of the best experiences of 2011 - nay, of recent years - ruined for you in any way, shape or form. To that end, there are no plot spoilers, no dialogue quotes, no references to cake or lies, no lyrics from Still Alive used as cheesy puns and no explanations of what happened at the end of the first game (for those that weren't intellectually on the ball enough to finish it). All of which has made this a right bugger to write.

It begins in what appears to be a motel room; a quaint little cubicle furnished with a bed, desk and the odd decorative object. You've been asleep for some time, hauled out of a mammoth slumber by an energetic banging on the door and a familiar voice. It's that Bristolian chap from the Barclays adverts, Ricky Gervais' pal - Stephen Merchant. Only here he's a spherical robot with a blinking blue eye - something known as a Personality Sphere. Despite the simplicity of his design - a lack of any distinguishing features at all, really - Wheatley possesses more personality than the cast of most other games put together.

I think he might be my favourite video game character of all time.

Valve has an uncanny knack for bringing life and colour to even the most mundane of objects. Remember the Weighted Companion Cube? An inanimate block that was little more than six uniform faces decorated with love hearts? Of course you do, because you became inexplicably attached to it, then ashamed of the cruel, cruel thing GLaDOS forced you to do to it. Such is the power of Erik Wolpaw's script-writing talents, which are of an even higher calibre the second time around. Portal 2 raises the bar for dialogue delivery, presenting a continuous stream of hilarious chatter, witty insults and comical references to past antics. All of which I can't talk about.

It's a distressing situation to be in as a games journalist, because all the best bits in the game - the bits that justify the hefty score at the end of this review - are all closely intertwined with the narrative. You'll just have to take my word for it: the characters, dialogue, and twists and turns of the plot are Portal 2's shining accomplishment.

Portal 2 screenshot

I assume you'd like something in the way of contextualisation, however, so here's the horrendously vague gist of it all. That motel room I mentioned at the start of my review? You break out of it and soon find yourself back in Aperture Science labs. It isn't long before you're the subject of a familiar testing regime once again, a plaything for GLaDOS, the potty AI from the first game. And that's all I'll say on the matter.

So, let's talk puzzles - the test chambers designed to put your ability at thinking with wormholes to the test. Armed with your trusty portal gun - blue portal on the right trigger, orange on the left - you'll need to get from a starting point to a designated exit, with the space in between stitched together with all manner of button-pressing, bottomless-pit-crossing, laser-redirecting and killer-turret-avoiding. In order to succeed, you'll need to set up your portals in the right places at precisely the right time. This requires an out-of-the-box approach to thinking and a relaxed attitude to abstract concepts. Even after four years, I still find it totally bewildering to walk through one portal and emerge from the other in a completely different location.

The first Portal was undeniably brilliant, but most of its puzzles were variants of the same handful of concepts. Portal 2 is a far more diverse experience in this respect, introducing a host of new mechanics and subsequent applications of your portals.

Surface modifiers are the most notable example of this, which give new properties to a wall or floor. Blue Repulsion Gel, for example, lets you bounce to lofty new heights, while the orange Propulsion Gel boosts your speed, letting you zip through one portal and emerge from the other with enough pace to cross otherwise impassable chasms. Conversion Gel is slightly different, allowing you to paint over a surface so that it can support wormholes. Latter puzzles bring together all three gels, which turns a test chamber into a scene from an infant school art lesson.

Light Bridges allow the creation of tangible walkways across test chambers. Pop a portal on a wall at the destination of a light bridge (they flow from a source, kind of like a river), and the walkway will continue to beam out of your second portal, wherever that may be. Excursion Fans work in a similar fashion, although they lack the same tangibility. They're best imagined as air vents, magically carrying anything caught in the stream until something blocks its path.

Portal 2 doesn't just welcome diversity in terms of its inner mechanics. Where the original game maintained a clean and clinical feel from start to finish, Portal 2 presents imperfect and structurally deformed test chambers, areas overrun with vegetation, and others tainted by human hands. Subsequently, the adventure feels far more grandiose, with the weight of the narrative supported by a range of impressive environments and settings. Obviously I can't talk about where things head towards the end of the game, but OH MY GOD.

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Highest Rated Comment

Wido's Avatar


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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
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: 462 14
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