Original Portal was an experimental "freebie" that was shipped with Team Fortress 2 and Half Life 2: Episode 2 as part of The Orange Box. Everyone assumed it was just a cute little sideshow. Everyone was wrong. It was, by far, the best game of the whole set with only one shortcoming - it was a short story-driven affair. It was also long enough and it told a good story with somewhat unconventional means. Fans wanted more a 2174 nd a sequel was all but certain. It took a few years as Valve dabbled with Left 4 Dead and silly hats but I guess good games take time and in the case of Portal 2, that time has been clearly well spent.
In case you have not played the first Portal, you are a horrible person and should seek to remedy that oversight by reporting to the Aperture Science Enrichment Center immediately. However, since "subject has not played Portal" is a valid scenario it means that a short recap is in order.
The basic concept of Portal is amazingly simple. You play as Chell, a female who has somehow ended up as a test subject in a massive underground facility operated by Aperture Science. You have a single "gun" - the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. Instead of bullets it shoots holes - left button fires off a blue portal and right button shoots off an orange portal, allowing you to create a link between the two surfaces across space. The original Portal is mostly a straight-up puzzle game. Complete more and more complex test chambers with obstacles that, at first sight, seem completely impossible to pass - yet there is always a solution that is based on the creative use of portals.
Portal 2 starts right at where the (revised) ending of first Portal left you. GLaDOS, the slightly insane AI of the facility, defeated and in pieces, yet Chell still held by Aperture Science. Well, to be exact, the very first moments of Portal 2 continue from there but it turns out GLaDOS was somewhat central to the operation of Aperture Science with the staff all being dead due to the little incident with neurotoxin and all. Without a central AI to run things, systems fail and Chell ends up in stasis for a long time. When she finally wakes up, many years have passed and the whole place is in ruins.
Let's Do It Again
Portal 2 opens with a fairly long and entirely linear sequence that sets up the stage - GLaDOS gets reconstructed and rebooted while Chell ends up going through some of the original test chambers, revisiting the basics of Portal gameplay, ultimately ending up with the original dual-portal gun. These rooms are suitably ruined and have plenty of new visual detail, setting the stage that a long time has passed since the events of first Portal.
I can understand the need to teach the game mechanics to those who have not played Portal before and there is no need to re-invent the wheel - these rooms did the job once, why not again? It still means that it will be a good while until you actually face some fresh puzzles. Game mechanics are introduced, one at a time, with everything designed to be accessible to a fresh newbie. I would imagine that Chell would be somewhat bored at this point - I know I was. Luckily story elements and pretty visuals do keep you going.
Without spoiling too much, the story takes you around the massive underground facility of Aperture Science and once again Chell is trying to find a way out. However, it is not just one big chain of test chambers to outwit GLaDOS - there is a lot more to Portal 2 than that. The whole story is divided into three major sections and there are plenty of twists and turns along the way, including a visit to the oldest parts of the massive Aperture Science facility that begun construction in the early 1960s.
Games: Portal 2
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