I am, I’m sure, somewhere around the last person to get on board with this, but still. I got The Orange Box for Xbox 360 for Christmas and, after hearing about Portal from a lot of folks, I finally got a chance to play it this weekend.
I’d played Half-Life before, and Counter-Strike, and all that, but this is way, way different. Basically, it’s a first-person puzzle game, which is something I’d never come across before.
The idea is that you are in a testing facility for a company called “Aperture Science.” You’ve got a gun that shoots, basically, “holes.” You shoot a wall, and a hole appears. Then you shoot a different wall and the other side of the hole appears. Walk through one hole, you come out the other.
Think about that for a second and imagine the possibilities - it’s not just the walls you can shoot. Shoot the ceiling and the floor, then jump in. You fall through the ceiling to the floor… through that hole and back through the ceiling… and you keep falling infinitely. Or shoot the wall across the room and the floor below you - fall through the floor and get propelled out the wall across the room.
You use your portal gun to solve puzzles in the testing facility getting from the entry to the exit of each room. As you progress, you learn more and more about the testers and Aperture Science. And then… well, you just have to play. It’s the perfect blend of difficulty, humor, fun, and originality. (The subject of the post is a reference to one of the little jokes in the game.) Plus, the song at the end credits is probably the best video game song ever.
The only problem I had with it was that it was too short. I beat the standard game in like four hours or something. After you beat it, there are challenges you unlock (advanced versions of the puzzles you just solved, challenges to see if you can beat the puzzles in a certain time limit or with a minimum number of portals, etc.), but I want more story. It was short and fantastic and I gotta have more.