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    Game » consists of 8 releases. Released Oct 10, 2007

    A first-person puzzle game developed by Valve and graduates of DigiPen, Portal forces a human test subject to run a gauntlet of grueling spatial experiments administered by a malfunctioning, psychotic artificial intelligence named GLaDOS.

    gbrading's Portal (PC) review

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    Mind-bendingly clever, superb fun, and hilariously funny.

    Tucked away within The Orange Box, Portal at first doesn't appear to be anything particularly special. Considering that Half-Life 2: Episode Two and Team Fortress Two got most of the press coverage beforehand, it is somewhat surprising that Portal has been the most well received and critically acclaimed game included in the package. However, it deserves every bit of credit it has got. The game may be short, but is incredibly sweet, in a humorously dark and twisted kind of way.

    Set somewhere within the Half-Life universe, you play an unnamed female protagonist (identified as "Chell" in the credits), who awakes in the mysterious Aperture Science Enrichment Center. Your goal as the "test subject" is to navigate your way through a series of Test Chambers, designed to examine the effectiveness and capabilities of the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (otherwise known as the Portal Gun); the only weapon you are given in the game. Your reward: the promise of cake, and possibly brief counselling to deal with the trauma. Along the way, you are guided, assisted and occasionally insulted by the emotionless, but utterly cake obsessed supercomputer running the Enrichment Center program, whose name is later discovered to be GLaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System). Whilst the plot may sound fairly straightforward, it naturally takes an unexpected twist later on; one which is often foreshadowed within earlier portions, leading to a highly satisfying and suitable ending.

    Gameplay consists of solving a series of logic-based spatial puzzles. Often they will require a cube to be placed on a button, or an energy ball to be directed into a launcher, in order to eventually reach the elevator and complete the test. Nearly all of these tests involve using the Portal Gun to do things you would think totally impossible in real life, such as throwing a portal through the ceiling, and another one through a wall, and then being able to look through the wall out of the ceiling at yourself. Further, Valve have also patented an action now known as "flinging", where you use a build-up of forward momentum to hurl yourself out of portals across great distances. When you actually stop and think about it, that's something amazingly clever and cool when actually put into practice. Whilst some of the puzzles aren't too tricky once you've figured them out, they are still wonderfully fun to complete, even after multiple playthroughs.

    The intense atmosphere for the game is unique, and is delivered through several different mediums. Firstly, the extremely minimalistic approach to decorating the test chambers, all of which appear very clinical, official and also slightly sinister. Next, the subtle sound effects and quietly chilling background music add to the cool, emotionless feel. Finally and most importantly, the voice of GLaDOS (projected perfectly by Ellen McLain) is a tour de force. The script timing of these lines is flawless, and the automated delivery makes GLaDOS and your journey through the Enrichment Center a very ominously amusing experience. Plus, her lines in themselves are great, being both witty and sadistic, with undertones ranging from the mildly disturbing to the psychotic; "Unbelievable. You, (subject name here) must be the pride of (subject hometown here)". Apart from GLaDOS, the only other characters are the turrets which you encounter in several levels, whose eerily singsong voices ("Can I help you?") once again add to the atmosphere. Plus, there is also the Weighted Companion Cube, your faithful, adorable and most likely solitary "friend".

    General movement and sound is what you have come to expect from a Valve creation, that being almost perfect. Something which is a little irritating this that it is impossible for your character to sprint, although upon closer examination of her legs, it can be seen that she has metal springs attached below the knee, to prevent injury when falling from great heights. These theoretically could prevent her from sprinting. On top of the normal game, there are also several extras, such as advanced versions of several of the test chambers, and challenges, where you attempt to complete chambers using the least portals, time or steps. The advanced chambers are a good adventure, but some problems arise with the challenges. Whilst the least portals challenge is doable and enjoyable when you apply some logic, the least time and steps challenges are almost impossible. One problem with the steps challenge is that it is difficult to predict exactly what will count as a "step", and you can often move what you might think to be a single pace and discover it counted as four. Further, the inability to sprint hampers the time based challenges, and requires almost superhuman reflexes in order to complete within the allotted time.

    The greatest reason for Portal's success is because it is something truly unique in gaming. You actually have to be able to "think with portals" in order to complete many of the experiments, and get your head around the strange logic of the game. Though it may be short, almost every second is great fun, and there is definite room for a sequel. Couple that with an awesome darkly comedic script delivered through GLaDOS, and you have yourself a game which will very soon become a classic.

    Other reviews for Portal (PC)

      The Cake is a Lie. 0

      Valve really do not do much to innovate any genre of games they make, at least in the gameplay aspect. Sure, they may have created the most innovative gaming service when they released Steam, and created a great way of story-telling in first person, but how the games they create play haven't really been something they've been too inventive with. Well, now, that Portal has been released, you can no longer say that. Portal is genius. Pure genius. If you jump into the game not knowing or have seen ...

      12 out of 13 found this review helpful.

      Portal 0

      Before beginning Portal, I had heard a lot of great things about the game. The introduction in the game was fluent going straight to learning the basic mechanics. Each level contained a specific task to do and once that task was completed, the player would be told to go into an elevator by a women over the loud speaker. Once in the elevator, a long loading screen would appear and once loaded the next level would start. Even though there were flaws with Portal, the overall game is great. The big...

      3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

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