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Portal 2



I think the first game I bought for my PS3 was the Orange Box - basically to get Portal (although I've played a good chunk of Half Life 2 while my wife wasn't around). So while I'm not a major fanboy, the game is definitely one of my favorites.


Anyway, I knew P2 was coming out, had watched some of the videos, but hadn't really thought about getting it until today when ars reminded me that P2 has a co-op mode. Then something clicked - P2 co-op & long weekend. What a better way to spend time with my son?


Except he doesn't like it.


Actually, I think he's frustrated by the controls. He just hasn't spent enough (any?) time playing FPSs, whereas Dad has played a bunch since Wolf3D kicked off the genre. So while I've never mastered the circle-straffe, dual stick move & look is burned into my reflexes. I don't have to think about how to do what I want to do, it just happens.


My son, on the other hand, gets frustrated trying to figure out how to move the controls to accomplish simple tasks. I don't think he's quite figured out the difference between turning and straffing, and he certainly hasn't figured out how to move, turn & look all at the same time. The first person perspective also may be causing him headaches 'cause he's used to playing 2D third person games, with the ability to see more of what's around him. And it's relatively easy to get disoriented in Portal 2, even if you aren't fall-jumping - one junk filled corridor looks like another.


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I played the first Portal for a while, then I quit. I'll do puzzles if they're fun, but once they become more of a chore than fun, I'm out of there.

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I'm finding the biggest problem with Portal 2 is ... it's a sequel to Portal.


Portal was an exceptionally good game because the game play and story worked together. The increasing difficulty level of the puzzles made sense because you were testing/being tested. But as you went along the hints that things "weren't quite right" became bigger, which worked into the story. And the linear world path wasn't a significant issue because it was well hidden after you left the test chambers.


But with Portal 2 those crimes hurt the game twofold:

1. GlaDOS is still the enemy, but you're still running the same tests. I almost wonder whether it would have been better to include Portal with Portal 2, and drop the training stuff from P2. It's also not well explained why GlaDOS doesn't simply eliminate you. (Not even a "I want him in the games until he dies playing.")

2. The linear world path is very confining. There are these big areas, but nothing to do but figure out where the exit is and how to get to it. And when you're being lead by the nose it's not even particularly good at making the path obvious by keeping the flashlight one step ahead of you. OTOH this means the couple of times the exit isn't obvious is frustrating because you get used to looking for the exit to figure out what to do next.

3. Each room / puzzle has one solution, and you typically aren't given the option to do anything more than what's required for the solution. In Portal I was always trying to move ahead and the puzzle was an obstacle to be removed. In P2 I find myself working backwards from the exit rather than working forward. I also find myself shooting at walls to find the one that will take a portal, since that one must be required for the solution.


This isn't to say I'm not enjoying it. My son is also doing better at the game since I had him play some Portal (1) on his own. But I'm just finding the spark from Portal hasn't carried over to the successor.

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I haven't finished yet, but:


1 - keep playing, neat stuff is coming up and an explanation is provided.


2 - I've found 1 side-room towards the beginning that had some interesting things in it on the level that begins with the turret that's behind a grating in the wall. It shoots at you as you run past. You then have to take out other turrets with a laser - if you come back and use the cube & laser beam to take out that 1st turret the grating will pop open, allowing access. There's also some side rooms in later levels that have interesting posters. I think "Karla the Complainer Says..." was my favorite of those.


3 - haven't been working backwards (if I know I need to get to location X in the level but can't, I'll just go to location Y and see what's what), but I have found myself shooting walls quite a bit. I think that comes from the deterioration of the facility that makes the portal-accepting-walls not as obvious as with the pristine test chambers in the original.


I didn't find the spark right away, but it came back with a bang once I got far enough into the story (shortly after the test chamber with the heart) and then I've been "grinning ear-to-ear" while playing ever since.

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I've finished off the first person game. Although it got better, I still don't think it was as good, as "tight", as P1. I'm now working my way through the first person game for a second time to listen to the commentary. Unfortunately, unlike P1, you can't save with the commentary on. So if you die (not impossible, even though I finished the game once) you get "sent back" some distance and you can't save & resume so someone else can use the TV.


However, I think taking time to "stop and smell the flowers" improves the game. Valve spent a lot of time creating the environments, not just the puzzles.

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