Troubling your mind.
Placing in GOTY list: N/A, 2011|Watch a Cullen Plays LIVE live stream of Portal 2 right now here
The Orange Box was the best game of 2007. Yes, it’s collection of games and not an entire game rolled into one, but to hell with it, I consider it to be the finest thing not just of 2007, but this generation (besides the actual Game of the Generation itself). For one, I played Half-Life 2 for the first time with it plus the earlier-released Episode One. Then the fantastic Episode Two and that awesome cliffhanger we’re still waiting six years later for the resolution of.
There’s Team Fortress 2 and spending my days playing 2Fort on it on whatever system I had the game on – PC, Xbox 360, even the shoddy PS3 port. Just that one map was enough for me, I didn’t feel the need to play other maps.
And then, there was Portal. That little three-hour long puzzler that could. Yes, it was a clever puzzle game, but it was its black humour that more or less sealed the deal. Yes, the cake memes dominated the game but GLaDOS was its highlight with her twisted personality.
GLaDOS was not the biggest highlight of Portal 2, though. I mean, don’t get me wrong, she was still as dark and twisted from before and we got to explore a lot more of her background and history throughout the final half of the game. But truth be told, Portal 2’s big highlight was Wheatley. Whoever was the person who thought of Stephen Merchant and subsequently casted him in that role, I hope that person got a payrise as a result of it. Merchant was a stoke of genius in that role.
In fact, Portal 2 brings together a terrific little cast that makes the game’s black humour shine out – there’s the aforementioned Merchant as Wheatley, again, the standout of the entire game, there was Ellen McClain coming back as the well-versed voice of GLaDOS. You also had J.K. ‘J.J Jameson’ Simmons as the soon-to-be-discovered gone insane founder and CEO of Aperture Science Cave Johnson. Even Nolan North got involved as the three corrupt personality cores in the game’s final confrontation.
And I’ve not even mentioned the adorable malfunctioning turrets.
I know, I know. At its core (no pun intended), Portal 2 is a puzzle game And it’s a really good one at that, not that you expected any less, introducing new ways to solve puzzles this time than just the simple use of the portal gun and go nuts with it, like the repulsion gels, lasers and other various ways to get through to the next puzzle.
And Valve also introduced a two-player co-op mode that, to my eternal shame as of yet, I’ve still to actually play even just the start of it, though that’ll be my fault for a lack of a partner that will actually accompany me and do these puzzles as a team. I should probably get round to sorting that out.
But all I can think about, all I can mostly talk about here, is how brilliantly written Portal 2’s dark humour is or how brilliantly cast its main characters are. It’s stupid, nonsicial, idiotic but also incredibly funny, humorous and fantastically written by Erik Wolpaw, Chet Falizek and Jay Pinkerton.
Maybe I’m missing Portal 2’s bigger picture by focussing too much on its humour in this writeup over the actual crux element of the game itself in the puzzles that also flesh out the game’s playing time substantially (though of course it does, it’s a standalone game this time), but at the same time, that humour is the thing I remember most about it.
We may go on waiting another six years for a resolution to Dr Freeman’s story, but in the case of Portal 2, it was Valve’s finest hour since that Red Letter Day nearly ten years ago.
Highlight: Anything with Wheatley. Seriously, just anything with him is golden.
More Game of the Generation articles will be arriving throughout the day up until 9pm GMT with the Game of the Generation. Find the full list so far here, with special and honourable mentions going live on the list along with the GOTG at 9pm.