This review was originally published 05/15/2011 on Game Observer (now defunct as of 05/13/2014). It has been republished here for archival purposes.
Yes GladOS, we brought you back to life because we really do love to test!
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t looking forward to this game. I love the first Portal, as it was about as close to "perfect" as any game has ever come, but I couldn’t help but fear that Valve might turn this into a franchise, and in doing so, some of the allure of the game would be lost. But the game was released, and it is a triumph. Mostly.
Apparently, a very long time has passed since the first game. The Enrichment Center is very different. Under the care of the watchful AI, Wheatley, the entire facility has been slowly falling apart. The degrading, decrepit test chambers make for much more interesting visuals than the sterile, white and gray chambers of the first game. They are now overgrown with weeds and vines, panels are falling off the walls, broken glass litters the floors, and fallen and bent metal beams and girders obstruct some of your paths. It’s just too bad that with all the debris and vegetation littering the environment, that none of it is interactive. It slightly breaks the immersion when you walk through dangling leaves and they don’t react to your passing at all.
There is a lot of visual variety in this game. You travel through the dilapidated chambers of the early game until the facility begins to rebuild itself. You watch it piece itself back together. Then you get to travel through the deepest guts of Aperture Science. And finally, you come back to see the test chambers tear themselves apart again
The co-op puzzles are fun, but not terribly replayable.
According to an article I read today on Digital Trends, Sony is planning yet another step towards becoming the totalitarian overlord of consumer's electronic entertainment domain with a plan to limit the number of consoles that European PlayStation Network users can link their downloadable games to. The intention of the plan is [apparently] to reduce software "piracy" through the simple act of sharing content that you've downloaded by linking to your PS Network account on someone else's PS3 or PSP. The imposed limit is supposed to allow any given downloadable content to be downloaded and installed on a maximum of 2 PS3s and 2 PSPs at any given time. Attempting to access this content through any additional consoles will require you to use a special online tool to deactivate the content on a different console.
I call BULLSHIT!
There is already a limit of five downloads allowed for any given content! And that isn't even across multiple units! Re-downloading a game on the same console costs you one of your precious five activations. So if you have to replace your PS3, then you are going to need to re-download all of your DLC. [More]
Well, yesterday, Sony finally came out and admitted that the PlayStation Network (PSN) had been hacked. Apparently, it took them one or two whole days to find out themselves, and then another whole week before they told their customers. Well, I guess I can understand that they wouldn't want to tell anybody that the names, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, usernames, passwords, and possibly also credit card info, billing address, and the answers to security questions to all of their 77 million accounts were hacked.
I wouldn't want to admit to that either.
But as a customer, it sure would have been nice to have been notified earlier that I needed to start changing my passwords and security question answers to any other online services that I am a subscriber to. Or that I should start double checking my bank accounts and credit reports for possible fraud.
But these sorts of things happen. A data theft this bad has never happened before, but anytime you put any personal information in an online service, you are taking a risk. So I can't really be too mad that this happened.
What I can be mad about, however, is that Sony pretty much begged for this to happen. [More]