No peace to the puzzles
Despite occasionally protracted exploration sections, the constant stream of novelty sustains the experience right through to the explosive finale. But Valve isn't finished there. A meaty, six-hour co-op campaign with its own entertaining side-story completes the package.
Box of tricks
The addition of another player revolutionises gameplay. Playing as Atlas and P-body – Aperture test robots created to replace human test subjects – you need to work in close co-ordination to solve puzzles. Where the single-player puzzles rely more on strategy, those in co-op concentrate on synchronisation and quick portaling. Funnelled through parallel test chambers, a handy ping tool helps co-ordinate your strategy by suggesting portal locations, while an amusing suite of gestures antagonises the omnipresent GLaDOS.
Communication is vital, as is trust. Errors in judgement or timing can have hilarious consequences, as you impale your partner on a spiked wall or send them plummeting into the void. But they can just as easily cause arguments, and so the mode is best enjoyed with a good friend.
In Portal 2, Valve has crafted a sequel that improves upon its already excellent predecessor in every way. The novel physics-bending gels help cement the Portal device's iconic status alongside Valve's other innovations, Half Life 2's Gravity Gun and Left 4 Dead's AI Director. And while the novelty of both campaigns won't stand the test of subsequent play-throughs, the compelling narrative and memorable dialogue and puzzles will easily stand the test of time. ®
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