Here’s an FPS that’s so refreshing, we’ll tell you upfront that we gave it a 9.5/10—almost perfect, if only it were longer. The game will give you about three to four hours of immense fun.
Portal capitalises on the puzzle-solving that made HL2 what it is, then adds a whole lot more. What might this “more” be, you ask? If you thought physics was confusing, and life in 3D complicated, Portal takes you to the fourth dimension, allowing you to travel between two “portals” that you can create pretty much anywhere. One instant you’re jumping down into a portal on the floor, only to emerge from the other end you’d placed on a wall. To complicate things, momentum is conserved when you pass through the portal, which means you come out the other end at the same speed, but in a completely different direction. Thanks to my nonexistent spatial skills, there were times I became so disoriented, I began swivelling my mouse around frantically, trying to understand where I’d ended up and which way was which.
You start off as a test subject (an expendable one, obviously), being guided by an AI computer called GlaDOS, who’s teaching you how to use the portal gun. As you near the end of the test after successfully completing all the levels, GLaDOS tries to incinerate you. You escape of course, with GLaDOS promising you cake if you come back.
The game has a hilarious script written for GLaDOS, and a few times I found myself losing a level because I couldn’t see through the tears squeezed out due to my hysterical laughter. The developers poke fun at everything, including Black Mesa (the research centre responsible for all hell breaking loose on Earth in Half-Life), not to mention the much-promised cake—if you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll find tonnes of similarly funny Easter eggs.
In the end, you meet and combat GLaDOS, and have to kill her before she returns the favour. Listen to her dialogues carefully and try not to laugh yourself to death. We expect to see this portal gun in HL2 Episode Three, or even a more complete and much longer Portal game. After you finish, some Advanced Maps are unlocked, which contain more challenging puzzles.
Enough. This game is a must-play, the end-titles song a must-hear (we’ve provided the lyrics on the right). Make sure you get it ASAP.