Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Orange Box part 2

If you like poorly written game reviews by some nobody from southern California, your in for a treat! It's time for another installment of the Orange Box review! Today I am reviewing...


Portal is an interesting take on the puzzle genre, as it melds the first person shooter with a puzzle platformer type game. Based on the developers old student project, Narbacular Drop, the gameplay of Portal consists of using blue and orange portals to navigate through different puzzles to reach the exit. The concept is simple enough, but as the game progresses, you will see that solving these puzzles are definitely not as easy. You are often required to use the portals to propel yourself over walls, to drop boxes onto switches, and to avoid sentry gun fire.
The game is short, but in this case it is not a bad thing. If it was just different iterations of the same puzzle over and over this game would quickly become boring, but due to its length, it doest really ever outstay its welcome. It feels just about right and for those who still need more after they are done, they can look forward to playing the advanced puzzles, and downloading the community made maps. The only problem I have with the homebrew maps is I will miss the robotic voice that accompanies you in your travels throughout the game.
The robotic voice is really one of the standout qualities of the game. It is a perfect blend of cold hearted detachment and humor. The comments that she makes throughout the game are what make this game surprisingly hilarious. Whether she is informing you about the different tests you are about to take, or chastising you for escaping her evil death trap, she always has something entertaining to say, and you will always look forward to hear her chime in during your progress.
The story is worth noting not only due to the fact that there is a story at all, but it is an interesting one that will keep you wanting to see where it ends. In most puzzle games, if there is a story it is exceedingly bare bones, but this one not only has some interesting connections to the Half Life universe, but it has one of the most satisfying conclusions to any game I have ever played. This is one game that you will truly have to play to the end to appreciate all the things it does right. One thing I should add, is that once you play through the game once, you unlock the Developer Commentary. Not only does it double the lifespan of the game, but it is exceedingly interesting. If you are interested in video game development at all, then you should play through it again with the commentary on. It is fascinating to hear the developers talk about all the different aspects of the game, and chances are you will appreciate a lot of the smaller details in the game that you never really noticed.
Portal is going for $20 on steam right now, and although it is a bit pricey, I feel it is worth every penny. Even if you play through it once, it will be worth every cent, and if you get it with the Orange Box, all the better.
It may not keep you hooked for months on end like Team Fortress 2, but it is a gem of a game that you may find yourself coming back to every once and a while. and is defiantly money well spent.


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