Any other year with a console Legend of Zelda title on the way, I’d tell you without a second thought that the next entry into one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises is at the top of my most wanted list. This year, Valve is going to break that trend.
It started with the original Portal. The title got my attention with online videos that demonstrated via witty, corporate themed isometric videos what the gameplay of Portal was all about. One word came to mind: Amazinglyeffingawesometimesten. Then another word came to mind that actually was a word: Different. Here was a refreshing new take on platformer puzzle solving that proved to be as much mind bending as it was flat out enjoyable.
Though the writing and cast for Portal is also fantastic, make no mistake that gameplay is the star of this title. The concept is simple: You have a gun that fires two individual portals and you use them to get from one spot to another. The implementation gets wildly complex as you juggle timed switches and puzzles involving various other clever uses for the portals. Experimentation in this regard is encouraged, necessary and fun.
Portal also expertly presented an unfolding tale that came to light by exploration and discovery, showing and not telling. Coming from the creators of the Half-Life series this is no surprise. The story was there for those who sought to find it and bypassed for those interested in purely advancing in the game. I being the adventurous type made it a point to search every corner for panicked wall scribblings to read.
Finally, whenever someone mentions Portal they must always mention GlaDOS, the famed mechanized antagonist and source of both comedy and terror in the game. I need mention no more than she made the number one spot on IGN’s top 100 video game villains to show how strong of a character she is.
It is for all these reasons that even mention of a sequel sets me on edge. Knowing that Portal 2 is just a month away is going to make me sleepless. Portal 2 is going to take everything awesome about Portal and amplify it. More levels, more GlaDOS, more portals and characters (with the aid of the new co-op), more music (with the return of Jonathan Coulton who wrote the ending song “Still Alive” for the original Portal), more puzzle elements and more stellar writing.
Some fans of the Zelda franchise are reported to have shed a few tears of joy when a new entry is unveiled. This happened to me this year, but exclusively for Portal 2. There’s something magical about the Portal experience that I find unmatched by anything else, and the wait to finally experience all that awesomeness will soon come to a welcome close.
Categories: Industry Rants