Portal is just another reason to believe that the kind folks over at Valve have not lost their touch in creating new and unique video games.
Enter Aperture, a company trying to get government funding. The player is a test subject, used to try out a new device, a portal gun. This is Aperture’s way to get funding away from the infamous Black Mesa of Half-Life fame, as they are bitter rivals for government contracts.
As a test subject of the ’safe and healthy’ work environment of Aperture, there is a series of tests and puzzles to solve using the portal gun. A few are safe, and have no danger whatsoever, but these do not last long. Soon, there are very life threatening challenges, up until realization that the promise of cake at the end of the course (a constant inspiration, or at least it is supposed to be) is a lie as well.
Soon, the fight for life gets much more complicated, as shown in my screen shot.
A very off-the-wall game, Portal brings something new to the table in puzzle solving gaming. Using a special portal gun, the player must move objects or themselves through the levels and out of danger. In this gamer’s opinion, Portal is a highly addictive game that gives a new twist to the ‘norm’ of first person games. Not only are the puzzles addictive, but I found that I couldn’t stop playing simply to prove the voice wrong. It’s just inherent in my nature to prove things wrong, especially when they are just annoying and drone on and on about nothing other than stuff I don’t really feel like hearing; ask my teachers, it happens.
Possibly the only hang-up. in an otherwise amazing game, is that no matter where the player goes a female computerized voice follows you with its annoying sound and promise of cake: the cake that may, or may not exist. Beating the single player campaign mode is worth finding out what everything really means though.
After you beat certain missions, or levels, there are bonus maps opened up with new challenges to do or finish -such as beating the time, or using the least portals or least steps taken to finish the level. These add more addiction to an already addictive game. I managed to beat the 16th chamber (the same chamber in the screen shots) with 6 portals, earning me a bronze award, going to one of the achievements I can accomplish.
Achievements are side-objectives which you can accomplish that add a bit of fun to the game. For instance, when you fight some sentry drones – if you can make one shoot at another, you get an achievement called ‘Friendly Fire’. There are also a few others, such as ‘300 foot Jump’ and ‘30,000 foot free-fall’ just to name two of them. Valve also includes this feature in Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life: Episode 2, mainly for replay value and a little bit of extra fun to play around with.
Now, if you will excuse me, playing and hearing about cake as worked up an appetite, I’m off to make myself some cake.
Portal is available directly from the manufacturer, and you must have Steam to run it. Steam is the online program used to run all Half-Life and Valve games, and you can get Steam here.
Visit the Makers: Valve
What I Like: Very fun, puzzles are interesting, and the story is short but phenomenal.
What Needs Improvement: The story was a little too short for my liking, I finished the game in just over an hour and thirty minutes. Also, the puzzles, while fun, could have been harder. But that is just this gamers personal opinion.
Minimum: 1.7 GHz Processor, 512MB RAM, DirectX 8 level Graphics Card, Windows Vista/XP/2000, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection
Recommended: Pentium 4 processor (3.0GHz, or better), 1GB RAM, DirectX® 9 level Graphics Card, Windows® Vista/XP/2000, Mouse, Keyboard, Internet Connection