I Miss My Portal Gun

And my sarcastic potato:

I didn’t want to write too much on the Portal games. They’re so immensely popular that anything I could say about them has undoubtedly been said before.

A screenshot from Portal 2But hell, I’m gonna do it anyway.

I finished Portal 2 today, and I’m already starting to miss it. This was one of those truly special games that only comes along once in a very long while.

As with its predecessor, it was an incredibly unique experience. To be clear, I have no issue with the frenetic and violent video games that dominate much of the market, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a game that bucks the trend utterly.

In stark contrast to the caffeinated intensity of games like Starcraft 2, the Portal games are largely slow and methodical, relying almost entirely on thought and careful reasoning instead of twitch reflexes. Armed with nothing but a portal gun, your only weapon is your wits.

Although comedic games are by no means unheard of — Portal 2 in particular greatly reminded me of the style of wry humor found in No One Lives Forever: The Operative — they’re not exactly something you see every day, either, so the Portal games were refreshing in that respect, as well.

A screenshot from Portal 2And make no mistake, they’re funny as hell — especially Portal 2. I initially thought there’d be no point to replaying these games once you’ve solved all the puzzles, but there were just so many gags in Portal 2 that I may have to play through again to catch all the ones I undoubtedly missed.

And then there are the things that would be major selling points in any other games but merely feel like icing on the cake* in this case: the good graphics, the fantastic audio, the addictive level design…

*(See what I did there?)

Portal didn’t quite live up to its hype due to its incredibly short length — which I have been informed is the result of its origin as a bonus for the Orange Box, but which I still cannot help but hold against it. But Portal 2 definitely lived up to the hype, and for a game as insanely popular as this, that’s saying a lot.

A scteenshot from Portal 2Sure, it still had a fair few problems, and in some ways, the original Portal was better. But it is my belief that the mark of a truly great video game — or book, or movie, or anything — is not that it has no flaws but that its strengths make you willing to forgive its flaws. This is the case with Portal 2.

So I guess all I’m doing here is gushing, and once again, I’m sure it’s all been said before. But this is my passion. I often say that video games are an art form, and if you want proof, load up the Portal games. They prove my point better than almost anything else.

Best eight bucks I ever spent.

New article:

My latest WhatMMO article is on personal responsibility in MMO communities. This is another non-list article similar to what you’d read on my blog. Everyone’s happy to complain about how awful the communities in games like WoW are, but how much do we really do to make our contributions to the greater game community positive ones?

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