The first Portal
made quite a splash with its release in 2007, with its innovative mechanics and unique gameplay, making for a singular experience that would soon shed its influence on games to come. It combined similar styles of puzzle, platformer, and FPS games to craft something that encompasses many styles of other games yet stands all on its own. I thought it was good, but felt underdeveloped in some ways. Most of the chambers just weren't very interesting in their design and the narrative it follows hardly went anywhere. Regardless, I liked it and, despite popular opinion, thought it was quite challenging.
Eventually, Valve released this, the sequel. It expands upon the things I thought could use some improvement from the first one. While I respect the minimalistic design the first Portal employed, the setting in this one is much better. Your player is basically traversing through the destroyed remains of Aperture Science, the aftermath of course being the fault of your character. It gives a lot of the early chapters a natural look that juxtaposed well with the high-tech levels.
Speaking of, the level designs are much better. Despite adopting many of the fundamental mechanics laid out from the first one, some elements such as the lasers or the gels in the later chapters make the gameplay still fresh and stand out. Even having been used to the portal functions from my experience with the first one, the gameplay is no less rewarding or challenging because of it, There are more levels as well, many taking on a different aesthetic look with new elements revealing themselves along the way with new challenges seemingly through every new door you open up.
The story is better as well. The narrative pulls you in right off the bat and doesn't let loose, taking many interesting directions as you play through. The twist in the middle when Wheatley becomes in charge of the facility and transforms GLaDOS into a potato was brilliantly funny and a definite highlight from the game. The ending was great too when the game psychs you out after GLaDOS assures you she won't kill you but you come face to face with the military androids. Turns out she was not lying to you because instead of shooting you they play a little song! It was awesome! AND YOU AT THE VERY END WHEN YOU LEAVE THE FACILITY YOU GET YOUR BUDDY CUBE BACK!! I love it.
I do have my gripes though. Regarding the story, when GLaDOS comes back to life they try to make it like this dramatic "uh oh!" thing but if it wasn't already obvious from Wheatley going on and on about how she isn't waking up, the post-credit scene song about her still being alive clues the player in pretty hard that she, in fact, is waking up (I know this sentence is a bit of a mouthful, not sure how to shorten it lol)
The humor adopts a more overt sense of humor compared to how subtle it was in the first one, which is fine, I definitely laughed a bit more, but GLaDOS feels a bit inconsistent because of it. She feels a lot more human in this when in the first one it was just, like, unintentionally funny robot speak. It's not I didn't find her funny, I did, I just thought her sense of humor was at least inconsistent with how she was in the first game. This new style works very well for Wheatley and Cave Johnson though.
How can you be surprised when this game is ahead of the first game in pretty much every website and gaming community. LOL