Portal 2 (PlayStation 3) review: This title proves that games can indeed be art.
- Almost everything
- Why are there so many brilliant games in stores at the moment?
Just go and buy Portal 2. It's a genuine contender for the best game of all time.
Best Deals (Selling at 1 store)
Time to admit something quite embarrassing: I've never played Portal. [He's serious — Ed. A combination of owning poor PC hardware, a massive backlog of games and a preference for console gaming has meant that Valve's classic has passed me by.
Read our review of Portal 2 on the PC.
So, without knowing anything about the game many consider the best of all time, I find myself in a relatively unique position of approaching Portal 2 from a completely fresh perspective. And again, without having played the first: This is the best damned game of all time.
My initial concern was naturally that I wouldn't understand what was going on with the story. I'd head that Portal is considered an artistic game, and diving into any piece of interactive art with no backstory is quite difficult. Then a wisecracking little robot summed up the story of the first game in literally a sentence, and I was caught up.
Portal 2 is self-referential, to say the least. As often as the psychopathic GLaDOS is poking fun at your character's weight, the game is poking fun at itself, and indeed the entire games industry. In-game tutorials are given a tongue-in-cheek touch by asking a player to look up and down to complete a aerobic exercise, and then to look at a painting on the wall to gain intelligence. Portal 2 didn't need a tutorial — the game uses five buttons than anyone can figure out without hand holding, but a modern game needs a tutorial, so Valve gave us one.
Same goes for the multiplayer mode. It's co-op (death match would have been a little too silly), but completely unnecessary, and Valve knew this. There's nothing wrong with the mode — it plays quite nicely, in fact — but you can't help but feel it's part of the extended joke they're having at the games industry's expense.
The characters and plot are a delight to experience. Without ever stepping into the realm of being overbearing or forced, the humour and wisecracks continue throughout. They're often quite disturbing under the surface — think 2001: A Space Odyssey's metaphorical mechanisms delivered through the psychopathic HAL — but the delivery as nuanced, interesting entities is real proof that video games have indeed become art.
Technically, too, there's not a thing out of place in the game. The visuals are clean and the settings are interesting. The character controls like a dream, and anyone who was concerned with a lack of precision from the PlayStation 3 controller need not worry — the game is perfectly playable away from PC. Music is sparse, but brilliantly executed.
Even the achievements list has had thought put into it, asking players to engage a different set of thought processes to the in-game puzzles. It's always good to see achievements used to create additional challenges for players away from the main game — we're like to see more of this philosophy from other developers in the future.
You'll notice I haven't mentioned the actual gameplay and puzzles of Portal 2 as yet. Truth is, they're a pretty bland bunch in isolation. Though there is nothing wrong with them, the creativity comes from placing the challenges with the context of the setting and experience. In the hands of a developer with a lesser grasp of presentation and cinematics, Portal 2 would be a pretty bland, boring game.
But as those puzzles (which are often quite challenging) float past, quickly in and out of the imagination and memory, the overall impression that you're playing a truly brilliant game stays firm. This is a game you'll remember years from now — not because of its individual puzzles and challenges, but as an experience, and as a work of art. You already knew this, but Portal 2 is a must-own.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Review: TCL C1 series 4K TV
- 2 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 3 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
- 4 Panasonic Viera UHD TV review: good hardware, fragmented software
- 5 Microsoft Lumia 640 review: Honouring Nokia's legacy
Best Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- Total War: Warhammer DirectX 12 performance preview: Radeon reigns supreme
- Microsoft brings Halo 5's map editor to Windows 10 for free, but stays quiet about Halo 5
- What is WESA and what it means for eSports: Counter-Strike got its own version of FIFA
- Microsoft is killing Project Spark, its ambitious cross-platform creation game
- Civilization VI abandons the stars to bring back Gandhi and the gang this October
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- CCBusiness Analyst - TelcoVIC
- FTSenior Network Engineer - Technical LeadACT
- FTTechnical Specialist EmailACT
- CCTechnical WriterACT
- FTBusiness AnalystACT
- CCSoftware DevelopersACT
- FTSystems EngineerACT
- CCBI/Information/Data/Solution ArchitectNSW
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- CCIT Assistant (Office Automation/Windows) 160517/ITA/884Asia
- CCInfrastructure Business AnalystNSW
- CCSenior IT Tester / Telecommunications (Urgent)NSW
- FTSolution ArchitectACT
- CCIT Environment and Deployment SpecialistQLD
- FTSharepoint Developer - O365NSW
- CCApplication Packaging ExpertVIC
- FTFunctional Business AnalystNSW
- FTDynamics Project ManagerNSW
- FTSenior Java Developer / Technical LeadACT
- FTManager, Applications SpecialistNSW
- CCAgile Coach / Agile Training ManagerNSW
- FTSenior Network Engineer - Technical LeadACT
- FTTechnical/Solutions ArchitectNSW
- CCIBM Sterling Developer + IBM Sterling Team LeaderNSW
- CCContract Analyst Programmer (JAVA/J2EE) 160526/AP/506Asia