Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Late to the game

Ceci n'est pas une cakeSo, after hearing its wonders touted all over the Internets and Podcastings, I finally got my hands on Portal, and played through the main game over the last couple of days. Such a game, I figured, could never live up to the hype that has been generated around it. Spoilers ahead, if you haven't played, and I'm being so sincere when I say that if you haven't played it, you shouldn't read the spoilers.

I was wrong, oh so very wrong. The atmosphere is perfect, the characterization is brilliant, and the black comedy is hilarious. And then, there's "Still Alive."

And, of course, none of this mentions the portal gun, a brilliant device which realizes the utility and entertainment value of the classic cartoon portable hole. I spent a good portion of my childhood wishing that portable holes were real, and pondering the inconsistent mechanics of such devices, so Portal fulfills a long-standing desire of mine, and it's every bit as cool as I could have imagined.

There is one thing that I wish they'd have done something with (though there's always the chance for Portal 2): it's clear early on that there's no reason to trust GLaDOS, but I saw no reason to trust the wall graffiti either. First, much of it was clearly written by people who had lost their minds. Second, how could someone direct me to the exit unless they already knew where it was? If they already knew how to escape, why would they come back to leave directions? Why would I have the portal gun, when you'd almost certainly need it to escape? Why wouldn't GLaDOS do something about the escapees or their routes? No, the wall graffiti seemed like a ploy, either by people who didn't really know what they were doing and were leading me on a madman's journey in circles through the Aperture Science compound, or by GLaDOS herself, leading me into a byzantine trap. I hope future installments take advantage of this, specifically because of the creepy atmosphere in those parts of the game. And I really hope there are future installments, because this game was beyond fantastic.

Let there be cake!


Anonymous said...

I was surprised at how great Portal was as well. I'm not even a fan of shooters, but Portal is more than a shooter; it's a pure game. A pure game relishes in being nonsensical or abstract, yet the experience is universally understood even to the neophyte gamer. Since playing, I've let various friends and family try out the game, and each one got it almost immediately. Sure, the puzzles weren't always clear and the story occasionally background noise, but the simple act of creating portals and jumping through them was enough to keep them hooked for hours at a time.

Alainadragon said...

I have picked up Portal recently too. The game is just awesome. I love puzzles(read: huge myst fan) and this game is just so fun. Haven't found out if the cake is a lie or not, but I'm close.