Too busy to devote 12+ hours a day to your gaming habit? Here's a review that's sensitive to your needs: Short and focused on just the things that a busy gamer like you really needs to know.
Reviewed On: Xbox 360. Also available for Mac, PC and PS3.
In a Nutshell: A first-person shooter/puzzler with some of the best writing in videogames. Picking up after the events of the first Portal (originally part of Valve's Orange Box collection and now available as a standalone game), which you should play before this one if at all possible - if only so that you experience the magic of testing with GLaDOS firsthand. The sequel is actually more accessible, while adding much greater depth courtesy of new elements with which to solve some truly vexing (though never too difficult) puzzles. And solving these puzzles gives you such a natural high that the biggest risk is that you won't want to put it down, and you'll be more than a little sad (though ultimately satisfied) when it's over. Fortunately, there's a co-op mode that doesn't extend the main story, but can prolong the overall experience while encouraging you to be social and share the game with friends.
Learning Curve: If you beat the first Portal, you'll have no problem picking this up. Setting it down will be the hard part! If you're new to shooters, don't worry: The game designers are experts at teaching you the controls as you go, so you'll soon being doing science like the pros.
The Save Game: Save anywhere. What more could a busy gamer ask for?!
Family Factor: As with the original, there's some blood and a few adult situations. There's a heartless human named Cave Johnson who rants a bit about burning down the homes of enemies and such. But nothing too bad. In fact, the 10+ rating is probably more aggressive than you need to be. We let our 8-year-old watch us play the main story and he even participated in some of the co-op missions - and though he wasn't very much help in solving the levels, fun was had.
Buy, Rent or Skip? This one's a keeper. Buy it unless you absolutely hated the first one or first-person shooters make you excessively seasick.
On a Personal Note: We absolutely adored the original Portal's fresh take on storytelling with an innovative new puzzle dynamic and an antagonist whose vicious taunts and teases were so fulfilling we couldn't help but crave more. So we pre-ordered Portal 2 months in advance and began consuming it the same day it arrived. We immediately fell in love with the oafish Wheatley, a new robot companion whose smart British accent is paired with some of the stupidest dialogue ever written (get a sample in our audio review).
And once we each beat the well-paced main story, there was more. Part of the game's draw is the inventive co-op mode, which puts you in the metal boots of a duo of mechanical test chamber junkies -so there's not even any blood when they get hurt!
There were many games we loved in 2011, but Portal 2 was the most polished, the most enjoyable and the only title that we agreed deserved to be our pick for Game of the Year. If you missed out on it, you should look into remedying that now. You monster.
Game of the Year Runners-up: GrrlGotGame and I have very different tastes in games, so picking a Game of the Year that satisfies both of us can be a challenge, especially this year when I was leaning toward RPGs like Bastion and Skyrim and she was hot for zombie bashers.
Here are the games that were our very close runners-up, all worthy of a look:
More Busy Gamer Reviews:
- Fallout New Vegas [GOTY 2010]
- Dead Island
- Resident Evil 4
- Jetpack Joyride
- Ugly Americans: Apocalypsegeddon
- Alice: Madness Returns
- Bejeweled 3
- L.A. Noire
- You Don't Know Jack
- Fable III
- Dead Rising 2
- Guide to kids and adult games
Busy Gamer Audio Reviews and Features (MP3):