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Portal 2 Review

Portal 2 draws from the award-winning formula of innovative gameplay, story, and music that earned the original Portal over 70 industry accolades and created a cult following. The single-player portion of Portal 2 introduces a cast of dynamic new characters, a host of fresh puzzle elements, and a much larger set of devious test chambers. But, does the game live up to expectations? Or, has the curse of the sequel struck again?

Portal 2 Review


So, I find myself writing a review for an older game. You, as a reader of Keengamer may be surprised to see this game on the main feed, but I saw that no one else had reviewed the game, so I came to the decision that it was essential for me to do a classic game justice and write a review for it – so here we go.

Portal 2, is a Steam exclusive game, and was released in 2011 by popular developers Valve – who also publish the game. The original Portal was a fantastic game with a great story, murderous villain, and a series of humorous 'cake' jokes, but Portal 2 is Valve's follow up to the game and boasts a bigger map, longer story and an enjoyable coop mode – giving us the impression that Portal 2 is much better than the first original game on paper.

Portal 2, was released on the 19th of April 2011, and can be purchased off Keengamer's very own ESHOP for around £16.


The story follows on from the first game, where you play as Chell, a protagonist who doesn't talk, who is dragged back into Aperture after the events of the first game. You soon meet a new character called Wheatley, a spherical robot, who is voiced by the talented Stephen Merchant (From Ricky Gervais's An Idiot Aboard) who assists the player through the first stages of the game. I feel the game really benefits from Merchant's talent and obvious enthusiasm due to great writing and Merchant's comedic value.

Eventually you come across the villain from the first Portal game – GLaDOS – who is revived after you kill her in the first game (sorry bit of spoiler there). The writers for the game have done a superb job, which is clearly evident in quality of Stephen Merchant's character and GLaDOS. I have always commended a game when a lot of effort has been put into the writing and story, as I feel it adds a supreme quality to the game, and developers Valve have done this to a tee.

Portal 2 Review - The cake is a lie

However, my only complaint regarding the story is the second part of it. It really starts to slow down, and almost gets boring, but once that is overcome it starts to pick up again in terms of pacing. Even so, the game is a thrill ride and has a fabulous story, and beats the likes of Call of Duty in the quality of the story.

Valve have also improved the puzzles within in the game making them harder and more unique, improving once again on the first Portal game. Additionally, they have also brought back the iconic, fan favourite portal gun – but not as much cake unfortunately. But, more about this will follow in the gameplay paragraph. 


The overall gameplay to Portal 2 is nothing but amazing. The game feels sharp, on point, and precise. Portal 2 is entertaining game to play and it is very clear Valve put a high amount of effort into optimising the game putting it ahead of its rivals at the time of its release in 2011. The game includes an extensive single player, featuring a wildly-engrossing story, complete two-person co-op multiplayer game featuring its own dedicated story, characters, and gameplay, and advanced physics once again allowing for the creation of a whole new range of interesting challenges, producing a much larger but not harder game.

As previously stated the game introduces more challenging and unique puzzles, building on the foundations lain in the first Portal game, which was released back in 2007. The game has the trade mark Garry's Mod feel to it, which is enjoyable to play on. Valve has put so much attention to detail, and this really shows when you play the game; the facility starts in a destroyed state of disrepair; Once GLaDOS, the villain of the game, comes back to life in a Frankenstein manner, so does the facility, becoming an extension of her body and witty, yet murderous personality. As Portal 2 progresses, the environments go from claustrophobic test chambers to daunting underground chasms – which is very cool.

Portal 2 Review - Gameplay is very good due to how precise and sharp it feels

It is outstanding how good the gameplay to this game is, due to high amounts of optimisation, even with it using the base framework from Half Life 2, which was released all the way back in 2004 (Wow, that makes me feel old!)

While you spend a lot of time tackling puzzles, which can be very long-winded on occasions, there is a lot emphasis on character development and the story itself compared to the first game. Valve also bring back the fan-favourite 'portal gun' which has become a trademark of the series. The gun shoots two linked portals through which you and objects can pass and momentum is maintained! Portal 2 still incorporates elements of physics which is great for you science fans out there. But, no matter how absurd the puzzles get, the solution to them always makes you say "oh yeah, why didn't I think that at first?". The game also brings back the original turrets, jump pads, and blocks to open doors from the original game, giving a nostalgic feel to it. 

Coop Gameplay 

Portal 2 also boasts a coop mode which is really good fun to play! Similar to the single-player campaign you tackle challenging puzzles, but with the added addition of a friend or even a random stranger. You play as either Atlas (a little fat robot) or Peabody (a tall thin robot) and go around different sections of a huge testing room tackling different fun puzzles alongside the the popular and hilarious villain – GLaDOS. Moreover, you can also design your own puzzles – a great feature to a great game. Valve takes full advantage of the increased capacity for dimensional holes (each player has a portal gun thankfully) by raising the level of challenge and coordination required.

Portal 2 Review - You play as Atlas or Peabody in coop
However, this mode can be very frustrating if you are not playing with somebody you know, as the game requires the work of both players stopping one person from just doing all of the work. The contributions of each person involved are plain to see, and Valve's developed numerous tools to help make communication as smooth as possible. Valve have tackled the issue by: allowing the player to set context-sensitive markers on parts of the environment indicate where a portal should be placed, where your partner should move, and even trigger a countdown clock to synchronise when switches should be hit or buttons pressed.

But overall, this feature is really good and is a nice addition to the game, compared to the first one, and really increases the overall quality of the game. 

Graphics and Audio 

For a game released in 2011, both the graphics and audio are pretty good – despite not being the 'flashiest' graphics around. But once again it is clear that Valve have put a lot of hard work, time and effort into making the graphics and audio great. The game uses the framework from Half Life 2 and has that feel of game made in the Valve sandbox game Garry's Mod; I don't think it would be a Valve without this style of interface. The game also makes up for not having the graphics by a great stage design and interesting animations.

Portal 2 Review - The graphics aren't the best but make up for in terms of imaginative act and wacky designs
Portal 2 also has it's own soundtrack, and the quality of the voice acting is sublime – especially from Stephen Merchant and Ellen McLain as GLaDOS.


In summary, Portal 2 is a fantastic game, and will become and remain a classic Steam game. Although we still eagerly waiting for a third instalment to the series, this game will do for now – despite only having around 10 – 12 hours of gameplay. Overall the writing to the game is great, as well as voice acting from Stephen Merchant and Ellen McLain, ensuring that Portal 2 never seizes to entertain. The graphics aren't the best, but is soon made up with a unique soundtrack, imaginative art designs and set pieces. The pista la resistance of the game is most definitely the puzzles as they improve from the first game and really incorporate advanced physics into the game. 

+ Great writing and story  – Second part of story is slow
+ Interesting characters  – Coop can get frustrating when playing with strangers
+ Enjoyable coop mode
+ Unique soundtrack

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