Latest Game Reviews

Portal Review - PC

9
Gameplay: 9 stars 9
Graphics: 9 stars 9
Audio: 9 stars 9
Innovation: 9 stars 9
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Introduction

Every once in a while a game comes along that completely rocks your socks and sets the bar that much higher for everything else that follows. Whether it's a good idea excellently executed, clever writing that makes you realise how poor nearly every other title in the industry is done or just really, really good that leaves you clamouring for more.

Portal does this. Clever writing, brilliant pacing (however short the game may be) and a clever idea flawlessly executed is as much a blessing as it is a curse. A blessing, because it is to a jaded gamer what delicious cake to a starving man. A curse, because it makes you realise how poorly most other games you've been subsisting on for the last however long.

Portal's story is simple, one sided and short. It's entirety is told through the ramblings of a research laboratory AI in its quest to conduct experiments on a new technology. Perhaps if the voice work weren't as flawless as everything else and polished to a high, white sheen, it would have lost some of its impact, but there's no denying it: Portal has a good story, with incredible dialogue, and like any good story, it becomes great in the telling.

It is a pinnacle of the medium with an ending so memorable you will be smiling for days as you recount the event to glassy eyed friends and co-workers who have no clue what you're talking about. Portal is a game everyone must play.

Gameplay

Portal's gameplay revolves around the use of the titular portals. One blue, one orange, what goes in one comes out the other. They can be placed by shooting them at any flat surface with the soon acquired portal gun. Using the portals can range from moving boxes onto switches, opening gateways beneath enemy turrets to move them out of the way and teleporting yourself across the room.

Running on the Source engine as it does, it's no surprise that physics play a crucial role in Portal. As GLaDOS, the facility AI informs you over the intercom, “speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out”, meaning there will be all manner of physics based puzzles to explore with your new favourite toy. Propelling yourself across the room after falling ten meters into a gaping portal only to keep your momentum as you exit a portal high on a wall and shooting across the room like an orange jumpsuit clad shooting star is the sort of “aha!” moment you will encounter often within Portal.

The puzzles themselves are easy enough, perfectly tuned to give you a sense of satsifaction when you've solved it but without being a cause of keyboard smashing frustration. The scaling of the puzzles from easy (box on a switch) to hard (honestly, trying to describe one of Portal's finer puzzles here would make me sound mad and do absolutely nothing to convey just how awesome they truly are) and are perfectly curved to make sure the player is never overwhelmed with too much ...

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