The original Portal was an interesting experiment with puzzle-based gameplay and a bonus in the Orange Box that became a huge hit. For the sequel, Valve has upped the scale in just about every area and gives us a new game that can stand on its own and is definitely a must purchase for anyone who enjoys games. Like the original, Portal is available on the PC (and Mac), Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Unlike the original, Valve handled the PlayStation 3 port themselves this time and even made a PS3 version of Steam to complement it. In fact, if you buy the PlayStation 3 version of Portal 2 and link your PSN and Steam accounts, Valve gives you the PC/Mac version for FREE.
Portal 2 again has you running through the Aperture labs solving puzzles, only this time things have changed. The labs are run down and many chambers are falling apart or overrun by nature. The amount of time that has passed between the first game and this one isn’t made perfectly clear, but it’s hinted that many hundreds of years have passed and civilization may not even exist outside the labs anymore.
If you played the original Portal, the initial puzzles may seem a little familiar, but they then become much more complex and brilliant as the game goes on. New elements such as the colored goo add new complexity to solving the puzzles, but the game never becomes really frustrating. That’s part of what makes the series great. The other big addition to the game is the co-op mode. This has its own storyline and puzzles, where each player controls a robot. Co-op can be played between two versions on the same platform, or between PC/Mac or even between PC and PS3 players thanks to Steam. As Microsoft didn’t permit an Xbox 360 version of Steam, PC/Xbox 360 co-op is not possible.
Graphically, the game is a testament to the power of the Source Engine. In fact, after playing Portal 2 I fail to see how anyone could want Valve to rush out a new engine, as the game looks absolutely stunning on any platform you play it on. Even the consoles. Many times when you play a PC FPS ported to the consoles, you can definitely notice the drop in resolution. Valve has done an amazing job with Portal 2 where this isn’t such an issue. While the sharper graphics on the PC are always preferable, if you can only play it on the PS3 or 360 you won’t be disappointed.
Speaking of the consoles, the PlayStation 3 version is actually the best one to buy. While game saves are not cross platform, unlocking trophies in the PS3 version will also unlock the same achievement on your Steam account. That integration is pretty awesome, and a free copy of the PC version doesn’t hurt either.