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Well, that was a triumph.


Aside from a few hours taken to look at a property my parents and I are interested in (which is really lovely and we're all hoping we get it), today was spent entirely playing Portal 2. I refused to go to bed until I finished it, which is why this journal entry is really late. I don't think I've ever played a game solidly for as long as I did this today, but I really didn't want to have anything spoiled for me, and I really wanted to hear Jonathan Coulton's new song, which is really catchy and great. It's not as iconic as Still Alive, but I think that one really set the bar. I've had it on repeat since I completed the game, and I'll go to sleep with it buzzing in my head, I'm sure.

Speaking of which, Jonathan Coulton's scheduled to play in the UK later this year. Actually, he only has three gigs in the UK (Bristol, Manchester and London) so if you're interested, I'd keep an eye on his twitter. The rest of the Portal 2 soundtrack actually reminded me of TRON: Legacy which just made everything that little bit more awesome.

The game itself is amazing, of course. It's far more of a game than the original Portal, which felt more like a quirky puzzle game than this adventure romp. Steve Merchant's part as Wheatley was an absolute show stealer, too. I remember being upset they weren't using his original voice in the trailers (a cockney accent, from what I recall) but this one was just great. There were so many 'oh my god!' moments, and I admit to tearing up a little at the end. In fact, I left the game feeling horribly sad and mellow. I guess I feel like that a lot when I complete things. You'll never get that first play through again. Any comments to this entry may have spoilers, so be wary.

Sorry I've nothing more interesting to say, but I kinda like vidya games, y'know? And speaking of which, poor old Minecraft got a really nice update today, but it's been completely overshadowed by Portal 2. There are achievements now! It's pretty great.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2011 08:14 am (UTC)
Thanks for the thoughts. I'm a bit cash-strapped at the moment, but the amount of positive feedback makes me think that this could be worth moving up my to-play list when I have the funds. :)

I'll be keeping an eye out for those gigs, too - although my bank account's still recovering from paying for the London Weird Al gig, so I think I'll be sticking to Manchester this time. :)
Apr. 20th, 2011 09:35 am (UTC)
That London gig was amazing though, I hope he comes back due to its popularity. The Coulton show in Bristol was my favrourite concert ever, so I'm really stoked. AND TMBG are in London later this year too, so double nerd win!
Apr. 20th, 2011 12:23 pm (UTC)
Weird Al did say in London that he didn't want to leave it 30 years before he came to see us again, after the reception he got. I hope he sticks to that!

I think that the rest of my events travel budget is being reserved for conventions for now - although I'm still trying to see if I can have enough to spare to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate on stage when I'm in London for Summer of Sonic. :)
Apr. 20th, 2011 01:17 pm (UTC)
Contains spoilers!
I panicked over whether my machine would be able to run it so I ran a "test" at half midnight after installing up to date drivers, defragging the game files and so on.

So basically I didn't sleep last night, because like Half Life 2 once I started I couldn't stop. @_@

The game counter says 8.5hours, but I swear it was longer. It felt like it.
Where Portal was a brilliant stand-alone almost proof-of-concept they didn't take too seriously, Portal 2 fleshed out the world, the characters, added more without being overwhelming and kept the feel similar without re-treading old ground. It was exceptionally well balanced, and felt more like a GAME as you say. :)
The graphics and art were superb, the environments going beyond set pieces to tell a narrative of their own. The characters were engaging, surprising and developed so well. And the story kept up with plausible plot-twist after plot-twist. It's raised the bar of what a sequel should be. I was caught off guard at many points, without the oft-seen hand-holding developers do by putting not-so-subtle hints in beforehand.

The ending where I suppose everyone must be making a desperate click-everything-even-though-it's-the-moon decision left me gobsmacked, and I don't think I was imagining the pause of disbelief in the games action too.
Same for the moment I realised all the "vines" were actually that mutant potato plant's leaves. And of course the way both GlaDos and Wheatley play with the players feeling for them. Warming to one to be betrayed, and reluctantly warming to the one who has already betrayed you.
Also the subtle details. The period settings underground taking you on a visual journey. The snippet of dialogue that make later events make sense (like the white gel being made of powdered moon rocks). Or the glimpse of the fat turret in the lift after Bridge Over Troubled Water.

That said though, there were some niggles for me. Almost entirely in continuity.
When Chell wakes in the deep-sleep room the first time there's just a rail on the ceiling. When she wakes later there's a rail and a hatch (also the cupboard doors are utterly missing, not simply fallen off). For the first opening scene of a game, that seems very clumsy. Likewise the area surrounding the lifts of the first few chambers being surrounded by a featureless matt purple fog, and outside detail pipework visible suspended in mid-air and cutting off abruptly. It almost feels like they honed their skills as they went along but never went back to fix the earlier parts.
There's also the moon thing again. The top came off the final chamber, and there it is. The actual moon in the actual sky. The original game also seemed to locate the chamber as at or near-surface. But a few minutes later Chell is raised up through hundreds of meters of lift shaft to emerge in an unbroken field of wheat. Okay the time of day implies time has past and more repairs have been made since the final battle so the chamber could have relocated, but it's still a sudden unexplained inconsistency.

I'd probably also say that after all the expansive battles and chambers, the final one taking place in a small domed room felt excessively claustrophobic.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )