When I first completed the original Portal not too long ago, I did not feel the need to experience any more of it. Sure, Portal is a fantastic game, but within the three or so hours it took me to complete it, I felt like the game had said everything it needed to say. Although I was crazy late to the party and Portal 2 had been out for months, I wasn’t sure what Valve would do to keep the experience going without tarnishing the legacy of the original.
From a mechanical perspective, Portal 2 builds on the original’s core with mostly minor updates. Yes, there are some additional considerations when it comes to the use of different block types, jump pads and gels, but the core concept around the use of the blue and orange portal stays unchanged. The game ramps you up a lot like the original did, but it doesn’t take long before the new stuff kicks in. I’m glad to see that the puzzles are just as interesting and fulfilling to solve as those in the first game, though a bit harder as well if you’re up for the challenge.
Does this game recapture the gameplay magic of the original? No. There was nothing in this game that made me feel that sense of magic like the original did, though it’s not necessarily fair for Portal 2 to have that expectation. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel, they took a more iterative approach to building on the gameplay, which works fine within the context of this game.
Where the game takes its biggest steps forward are in the story department. The original game had a very simple story that was very elegant in its execution. Portal 2 makes some bold steps towards telling a bigger story through the environment and through the game’s three characters while trying not to lose the charm of the original. It’s hard to discuss how the game does this without spoiling any of its story beats, but let’s say that that Portal 2 does an excellent job of following through on its vision. Though there was more things happening in the story, I enjoyed playing my part all the way through.
In virtually every aspect, Portal 2 is a better game than its predecessor. It’s also up there as one of the best games to come out in 2011. With that said, if you’re expecting for Portal 2 to somehow recreate the magic you felt when you first played Portal, you won’t find that here. It doesn’t try to come up with a brand new innovation to take it over the top, which is probably for the best. It’s a great game and I don’t really have anything bad to say about it.