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Portal (Windows)

88
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.2
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Pixelspeech (955)
Written on  :  Jun 14, 2011
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars4.43 Stars

7 out of 9 people found this review helpful

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Summary

perfect design, but the fun only lasts a few good hours

The Good

The game isn't padded at all, everything that's in this game is there because it needed to be there for the game to work. There are no annoying parts between puzzles that drag-on and even the loading screens are incredibly fast. Thanks to this, the game is admirably enjoyable, you never get bored of it because there is always something to do. If you like the game this will mean that you will like it all the way through, but if you dislike the game (which is very hard) this means you won't ever get a break.

I found the story to be quite interesting, mostly because there isn't much revealed to you. All you know is that:
a) You are a prisoner in a science-lab, there is nothing explaining how you got there or why they took you, but whatever they do is unethical.
b) The robot who guides you through the tests has no understanding of human emotion and might be insane. Because the game doesn't reveal too much of the story you can use a little imagination and make it your own, at least that is what I did when I couldn't figure out a way to open a door during a puzzle.

Playing with the Portals is interesting no matter how old you are, I have wasted so many minutes just standing around and discovering new ways to mess with million-dollar science material. Some of the classic tricks are; placing portals behind cameras, endless falls and flying. It's also nice how they introduce you to the portal gun: first you have none, then you can use the blue portal and finally you assemble the whole thing. It spreads the fun a little better because you get more features to mess with as you play.

I had to laugh at most of the jokes, this is probably one of the most overrated part of the game though. People say every line is solid gold, but most of the jokes are good for a quick giggle and not a full three-minute-laughter that will tear your lungs apart. I also hate it when people burst into laughter about cake jokes. Yes. "The cake is a lie" is a very odd things to say, so is "He kicked the Bucket", but they aren't a comedic pot of gold that you can exploit in order to make cheap jokes for several years. Sorry, now I sound negative again, the jokes are pretty good and I liked MOST of them.

The Bad

I finished the game in two hours and maybe less, but considering all the time I wasted with messing around, I can safely say that the story mode will only take you 90 minutes tops. I praised the fact that the game has no padding, but that doesn't mean it can get away with lasting just as long as a movie. There is some extra content in the bonus maps and there are probably user-made levels out there, but this will only double the length of the game once (three hours) at best.

I found everything up to level seventeen to be very easy, level eighteen was probably the hardest and Nineteen was decent, but all the maps before that were very easy. I could solve most of them just by looking at them for a few seconds and looking for the box or switch required to move forward.The last-boss wasn't that bad, but the only thing that can lead to your "Game Over" screen is a very generous time limit. A little extra difficulty would have made the game better for me, but I wouldn't be surprised if somebody else thinks this game is one of the hardest out there and that my suggestion would make it impossible.

The Bottom Line

Portal is a really great game, but not the holy grail of video games, I like letting kids or parents play it due to its charming puzzles and jokes, but it just leaves me with a little problem: I bought a game that only took me two hours to finish. That is hard to justify. The lack of difficulty is also a little deal-breaker to me, but the last few stages are rather challenging, so that only counts for the first part of the game.

Aside from its length though, Portal is a very nice game with a funny story and very interesting design. I am glad I played it because it showed me how to design a game without using arbitrary padding. I was never really bored while playing this game, so this is a recommendation for everybody in the world, just try it once, only nine euros in the Steam Store.