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Four Portals Are Better than Two - A Portal 2 Coop Review

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Posted Thu, May 12, 2011 by Stow

No one saw Portal coming.  Well, let’s rephrase that.  We saw Portal coming, but no one saw the amazing following and success that came shortly thereafter.  No one saw the ending sequence, the incredibly dry humor, or the wonderful feeling of an epiphany from solving a puzzle you’ve been stuck on for half an hour coming.  What was once thought of as an extra pack-in to the Orange Box became a reason to purchase the Orange Box, and Portal fever was in full session.

Now, everyone saw Portal 2 coming.

But no one could see these two goons coming.  Humanity is weak and fragile, so it's best to use these robots that can't feel pain.

It promised the world with tons of new gadgets, gizmos, and a million more deaths in your future.  It delivered a cooperative campaign totally separate from the single player.  Of course, your mileage with multiplayer is partially related to who you play it with.  Let’s just assume that you’ve got a good buddy and a few hours to both aid each other, and of course, kill each other.

Because that’s what friends are for in video games!

Cautions

Portal 2 is rated E for Everyone. Robot explosions and dry humor insults are the worst things you'll experience first hand, but no one can prepare you for your wounded pride when you have to look up the solution to a room.

Gameplay

97Excellent

The gameplay of Portal 2 is still as simple as point, left click, right click, and move on.  Rarely do you have to jump or crouch, and Portal 2 remains a great game for everyone coming from all walks of life, both the hardcore and those who haven’t touched a video game in ten years.  Little tools exist to make your life easier when cooperating with random people and those of you without microphones.  You can play pings, do countdowns, request portals to be placed and do plenty of crazy gestures to get people to dance to your tune without Ventrilo.

You now have four portals in multiplayer.  The hardest part about the game is getting out of the mindset that you have to do all of the work yourself.  Mind you, a lot of the puzzles can be cheesed or cheated through, but for the most part you’re going to need all of the portals of the rainbow in order to conquer the complex.  Of course, this means you’re going to need the cooperation of a comrade, so communication via voice, chat, or the in-game gestures and pings is essential to progress.

What looks like a typical laser is none other than the Thermal Discouragement Beam.  Unlike the original, you'll survive a little contact with these.  What you really have to worry about is your comrade purposely aiming it at your face for kicks.

New toys are available to play with.  You’ll be aiming lasers to hit switches, you’ll be swimming through space with Funnels, and you’ll be using little Gels to change the area to a more suitable surface, be it through speeding up, slowing down, or even creating a portal-capable surface on a wall that could normally not support it.  Once everything is in play, so many options exist in order to get through the stages that it might rack your mind trying to find one of them that truly works, instead of leaving you stranded on a platform yards from the exit but just out of reach.

For those of you that loved the sheer insanity of flying a million miles an hour through the portals and over the stages, a lot of those are out.  Most puzzles are solved with your brain instead of quick fingers, which will please the casual and mildly disappoint the few of us that took great pleasure in doing puzzles the wrong way.  It’s just a change of pace, and there are still plenty of times you can use unintentional cover to dodge turrets and do long jumps to bypass traps or death pits.

It’s Portal, only better!

Graphics

90GreatWhile not disappointing, the graphics of Portal 2 really… didn’t change from the original. The Light Bridges look nice, and the distortion of looking through them as well as looking through portals is still top notch. The game still scales to a multitude of systems, and looks sharp at the highest settings. You and your robot companion will run and jump around like goofballs with quality animation, even when you do unintentionally awesome high fives.

Sound

77Pretty GoodMusic is nonexistent, which is wonderful for concentration and communicating with your partner, but really makes you feel like the co-op campaign was just the afterthought of a map maker. However, the ever present voice of GLaDOS is always around to make you feel better about yourself, insult your partner, or just revel in your repeated demise. Otherwise, the sounds of portals, various gizmos, and turret bullets piercing your torso repeatedly are quite good, if a bit repetitive. Of course, it’s only as repetitive as long as you keep dying on the same puzzle. If you’re tired of hearing gunfire, stop getting shot to pieces and move on!

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