Thursday, 21 April 2011

Playing with portals

I got onto Portal 2 pretty much as soon as it came out because, despite the godawful fanbase, I thought Portal was a really clever concept with great execution. Not a day later and I've already finished it (though I'm yet to try co-op) so I thought I'd make a few comments on it. Fair warning - I won't mention any spoilers but some details in the screenshots could give stuff away if you think about them too much. I myself was actually spoiled courtesy of /v/, but the event I was spoiled about happened about halfway into the game so it wasn't a big deal.

The game itself is mechanically pretty similar to the first Portal - you have a portal gun, which you use in combination with cubes, lasers and various other devices to make your way through each test chamber. One of the main areas in which Portal 2 differs is that it includes a lot more of these devices that you have to use successfully to continue through the game - including light bridges, tractor beams, jump plates, cubes that redirect lasers and, my favourite, three types of gel that affect the surface they're placed on.

Propulsion Gel, the orange stuff, has a negative friction. You accelerate quickly to very high speeds while walking on it. The blue patch is Repulsion Gel, which you bounce off. The white gel isn't quite as fun to play with, but lets you create portals on it even if the surface underneath the gel wouldn't normally accept them. A big part of the challenges here are using portals to move the gel from the dispensers to the surfaces you need them to be on.

If you're havin' turret problems I feel bad for you son

I got 99 problems but turrets ain't one.
The light bridges can be manipulated with portals to block turrets, cross bottomless pits and to stop jumps early if needed.

The tractor beams are pretty straightforward to use to move yourself or other objects around the place.

Real-time test chamber construction
 As for my overall impressions, it was a pretty incredible game. The environments were consistently very pretty, which must have been hard to achieve when the game's setting alternates between sterile white chambers and behind-the-scenes industrial piping segments. The music complements the gameplay perfectly - each track really nails the mood of the particular area, and the intensity of the music varies with your actions. As you progress towards clearing a chamber the melody becomes more and more intense until it culminates in your final flight across the room to the exit. It's hard to describe but amazing to listen to.

The characterisation and voice acting is similarly impeccable. I'm not real familiar with the actors themselves but they really made the characters. The writing is witty, and I was pleasantly surprised to find no cake-related jokes. I guess Valve got sick of them as much as everyone else. One complaint would be the length of the game, which was still pretty short (though, like I said, I'm yet to play co-op). Then again, if they made it much longer they'd inevitably end up recycling ideas so maybe the length was fine. In that case, then, I feel the price is a bit high for the length. If you feel the price is an issue then I'd urge you to wait for it to go on a good sale or acquire it via other methods, since it really is a great game.


A couple of things at AmiAmi caught my eye recently.

I don't collect Figmas but if I did I'd be all over this one (I'm in half a mind to get him anyway). Kaiji looks like he comes with enough parts to recreate all the games from the first season and he even has a ざわ speech bubble thing!

And a new Yukari by Phat Company and based on a kit. I already have Kotobukiya's Yukari, so I doubt I'll get this one, but I think she's a nice looking figure (well, as far as I can tell from a couple of low-res promo shots). Her hair colour, at least, is a marked improvement from the job on the Kotobukiya Yukari. Regardless, it's good to see all these non-Griffon Touhou figures appearing.

As an aside, I hardly even play the Touhou games any more (except for some occasional PoFV and SWR). I think I'm becoming a secondary. I feel like I should start living up to the stereotype and making some BAKA CIRNO xD jokes but I really don't have it in me.


  1. Yeah Portal 2, was an amazing game. I agree about the length but I also feel as though it was pretty long for a portal game, I've just finished all the co-op, singleplayer and getting some achievements by replaying parts of singleplayer, and I've spent around 14 hours on it, so that's not too bad in my opinion.

    That Kaiji figmas zawa zawa speech bubbles made me laugh.

  2. >Regardless, it's good to see all these non-Griffon Touhou figures appearing

    Quite so

    >I think I'm becoming a secondary

    Hmm, seems like I'm moving in the same direction too. Maybe I oughta finish that one long rant on Touhou fanbase later...

  3. I really liked the first Portal but I haven't played the second yet. I will one day though.

    >I don't collect Figmas

    Sorry to hear that. I'm actually a huge fan of them.

    >but if I did I'd be all over this one

    I would too if I didn't have so many pre-orders that month. It's like everything has to be released in August. I was looking forward to figma Kaiji too.

    >I think I'm becoming a secondary.

    Don't think about it so much. It's only natural to lose interest in so many things. You'll get back into Touhou later.

  4. I have Koto's Yukari too so I'll pass on this one. I completely agree with you on her hair. I'm actually a bit surprised she's on AmiAmi; I thought she would be exclusive like Chen.

  5. >I myself was actually spoiled courtesy of /v/, but the event I was spoiled about happened about halfway into the game so it wasn't a big deal.

    I don't care about being spoiled, yet I've somehow avoided stumbling upon any spoilers. I haven't even played the first Portal. If I ever feel like bothering with the series, I think I'll skip straight to Portal 2. The puzzles look fun.

    What a nice Yukarin figure. I like it more than the Kotobukiya version. Oh, the pains of having NO MONEY.

    >I think I'm becoming a secondary.

    You're not alone.

  6. This game from the images and the way you described it sounds like a game I'm longing for but I will never be able to play it ...

  7. >Sorry to hear that. I'm actually a huge fan of them.

    I've got nothing against them, but I can usually only afford one version of characters I like and tend to go for the larger scale figures.

  8. >it's good to see all these non-Griffon Touhou figures appearing.

    Some new faces on the market, yeah~

    I like the Kaiji and Yukari figures, but not sure if can have...

  9. I feel like the fanbase ruined it. OMG THE CAKE IS A LIE OMG DID YOU KNOW THE CAKE IS A LIE HURR DURR. The sequel should have come out within a year, now I'm just so sick of it all.