Game Review: Portal: Still Alive

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portal-still-alive

 

Genre/Platform

Puzzle, Xbox Live

Storyline

You wake up in the middle of an Aperture science testing facility, and greeted by a calm, Prozac-calm artificial intelligence named GlaDos.  You are to be put through a series of tests to judge intelligence and perception, etc, etc.  And when you’re done, GlaDos promises, “there will be cake.” But it becomes quickly apparent that something is seriously, seriously wrong with this picture.

Gameplay

You are given a “portal gun” that allows you to create an entrance and exit portal so you can get from point A to point B.  And getting from points A to B requires something as simple as an understanding of physics – and I mean conservation of motion, inertia, etc.

For example, if you put a portal flat on the floor at the bottom of a long drop, and one on a high up wall, you can fall through one portal, and pop out the other at the same speed, throwing you across a room to a higher platform.

Morals/Appropriateness

There are no enemies to kill, unless you count the machine gun turrets that are “accidentally” put into the testing scenarios who cry “Uh oh,” when you sneak up behind them and grab them.  There is no way to fall to your death …. unless you count the occasional navigational hazard.

 The game is completely harmless.  The nastiest the game gets is when GlaDos – who constantly nudges you with passive-aggressive comments as the game goes along – accuses your character of having no friends, and that “nobody likes you.”

Final Note

The game is $15, and about six hours long.  Originally, it was part of The Orange Box, which included Team Fortress 2 (which has already been reviewed here) and Half Life 2.

The game became so popular, you can now download the game by itself from Xbox live and find a sequel.  I played it in one afternoon, with a couple of friends offering advice and cheering me along, so feel free to consider this a party game if you like.

Just remember, the cake is a lie.

Addiction Danger

You might play this through twice, if only to see how many different ways you can play through an area.  From what I can tell, there’s only one way to play through each segment.  At most, figure two playthroughs for each person you have in the household.

ESRB Rating: T for Teen
ESRB Link

T for Teen, because of blood (yours, if you get in the way of a machinegun turret) and “mild violence”… though I have to tell you, I think that’s an overly cautious assessment on the ESRB’s part.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2013 John Konecsni

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1 Comment

  1. We love the Portal games here in our house. (My 7 year old son just completed Portal 2 this week with his sisters cheering him on.) These games are available in more than just the XBox format, you know; we play them through the online (free) Steam platform. One of the many reasons I like the Portal games is because they force you to think differently. You really have to challenge your brain to solve the mystery of how to escape each individual testing chambers. I think one of the reasons this game has become so popular is because it starts out very easy and teaches you the new concepts in a fun way as you go along. While I did really enjoy the original Portal game, I believe the makers of the game really improved the format for the Portal 2 version, and I’m thankful they made it even longer. The co-operative game play available through Portal 2 has allowed us to play the game (solve the puzzles) with my brother who lives in another state. One thing I do want to caution your readers about, though, is that it (at least Portal 2) contains some language that some might find offensive. (An off-screen voice says, “D*mmit”, for example.) It’s very mild compared to many games out there today, and it only happens once or twice, but it is still there. (It surprised me when my son was playing it. I didn’t even notice it when I played it before he did.) Thanks for reviewing the game here!

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