Portal Continued…

Well, by accident, I managed to finish Portal in a single day. Sure, I would have liked to go through it slowly and have a look at all the scenery, but when you get immersed in a puzzle like that, you become like a lab rat in a maze: the cheese doesn’t even matter anymore; all that matters is the goal.

Still, despite that, Portal turned out to be one of the best games I’ve ever played. It’s definitely the best first-person-shooter-like game I’ve ever played. The environments were perfectly designed, the puzzles were challenging, but not brain-hurting, and it was incredibly, incredibly immersive. It was so immersive, in fact, that when I became trapped in a room filling with poisonous gas, I realized that my heart was actually hammering. (People who have played Portal will agree with me…for everybody else, that’s just a cruel teaser).

So, my previous conclusion stands: you should buy Portal. If you can’t buy it, or don’t want to, find someone who has (and no, you cannot come to my house. Don’t even try it. I keep vicious attack ostriches).

And one last note on Portal (this may be a semi-spoiler, so don’t read it if you want to keep all the mystery intact):

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This morning, I woke up at 8 A.M. Willingly. I didn’t have to get up that early. I could have chosen to sleep in. The fact that I didn’t must mean that today is a special day. And it is. Today, Portal was released.

I have been awaiting this game since last year. For those who don’t understand why, you can learn more about the game here.

It is, as I expected, Portal is one of the most original FPS-style games that I’ve ever seen. After all, what other first person shooter allows you to bend spacetime? And the way the designers incorporated this bendiness into the multitude of puzzles is absolutely brilliant. My waiting, it seems, was not in vain.

But perhaps even cooler than the ability to step through a wall and drop out of the ceiling is the psychological aspect of the game. I won’t give anything away, but I’ll just say that this game, more than any other game I’ve ever played, will mess with your head. You begin to get the distinct impression of being a lab rat. Add to that the confusion of popping through one portal and ending up somewhere you hadn’t intended, and it becomes a disorienting (but incredibly amusing) ride.

If you don’t own Portal, buy it. Unfortunately, you can’t buy it separately from the Orange Box (the game set that also contains Half Life 2: Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2), but Portal alone is worth the US$49.95.

Given all the effusive gushing praise I just heaped on Portal, one might wonder why I have not slipped entirely into a disoriented, game-induced trance. Well, as much as I enjoy it, I’m not always very good at puzzles…so, before I started babbling to myself and pulling my hair out, I thought I’d give my weary brain a chance to rest and work out all the cramps I just caused it.

Many, many thanks to Valve and the other producers/distributors of Portal.