Thursday, May 5 2011

Portal 2, everyone else 0

I didn’t actually finish the original Portal, mostly because when it first came out, I didn’t want to buy The Orange Box for Xbox 360, and didn’t have a Windows gaming setup. When they gave away the Mac version as part of the Steam release for that platform, I got it, but ended up playing a lot of Torchlight instead. I knew the concepts from playing the Flash version, and of course I heard the song and watched a number of videos of the hilarious dialog and interesting puzzles.

Portal 2 was a day-one Mac release, so I bought it, played it all the way through, and loved every minute. Even the relatively few places where I got stumped (generally because I missed a subtle visual clue or got myself turned around and jumped back the wrong way). My biggest complaint would be not being able to locate the [spoilers] in the one and only timed section; the scene is sufficiently visually chaotic that I didn’t see them arriving, and then only had audio clues to work with, which weren’t terribly directional. And, of course, it was timed, so I had to do it again.

Sadly, there’s an entire second game that I can’t play at all until I get one of my friends to buy the damn thing and finish the single-player campaign. It’s great that they made a two-player co-op game with a real story, but quite frustrating if you don’t have anyone around to play it with. And the idea of playing it on Steam with a stranger just repulses me. The thing I hate most about online gaming is making my fun dependent on the maturity and intelligence of a stranger, going all the way back to the unrestricted griefing and player-killing of Ultima Online. There are non-sociopathic gamers out there, but if I want to be social in a game, I prefer to be in the same room.

Now, as for the common speculation about how you can “scientifically” explain how portals work, well, after the end of the single-player story in Portal 2, you’d not only be killing catgirls, you’d be committing furry genocide.

Oh, wait, some people might like that idea…

(and, yes, after finishing it, I went back and played the first game all the way through, including the advanced maps; it deserves all the praise it’s gotten)