In my previous post about Half-Life 2, Andres asked about Portal. I played it this week.

The gimmick is instead of a weapon that does damage you’ve got a gun that shoots an orange and a blue portal. The orange portal connects to the blue portal, so you can do things like walk through walls to go across rooms or fall long distances through portals and conserve your momentum to fly out the other side like Superboy.

The game is short, but I think that’s the way it had to be, because none of the challenges was particularly hard and there’s only so many ways I can envision setting up puzzles with the Portal gun as the only way for the player to interact with them. I probably got six or seven hours out of this game and I don’t know how I could possibly get much more. There are ‘advanced’ levels that become unlocked upon beating the game; maybe I’ll take a look at those.

The gameplay is definitely innovative, but I found myself really wishing for a real gun like I’d have in Half-Life at many points–not because I needed it, but because I wanted to drop a cap in something all aggressive-like. The game looks just like Half-Life 2, so I’m sure that colored my perception there… I found it strange to be running around and not dodging zombines or antlions.

There has been a lot said about how clever and funny Portal is. I didn’t really find that to be true. There were funny parts but I wasn’t LOLing about much that computer voice GLaDOS was telling me while I was working my way through the game.

In this article about the Old Man Murray guys working on Portal there’s an interesting quote about Portal and Half-Life existing in the same universe and intertwining in the future–indeed (spoiler alert, I guess) Aperture Laboratories is mentioned in Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and Black Mesa is mentioned in Portal, so that’s got to be where things are headed. If I can use the Portal gun and real shoots-bullets guns in the same game, I can’t imagine where the difficulty is going to come from… just shoot a portal behind a bad guy, shoot one safely behind cover, change weapon to something that does damage, and shoot the dude in the back. I’ll be really interested to see how the Valve folks work this out.

Three Pochaccos due to my really high expectations not entirely being met.

Update: I had no idea Mike Patton of Faith No More was in this game. And here’s a download site for “Still Alive”, the song that plays over the credits, which is pretty cool.

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