Top Ten of 2011 – 3. Portal 2

At number 3 of the BcR Top Ten of 2011 is Valve’s latest endeavour to please its adoring fans, Portal 2. Bringing Chell, GLaDOS, and more fantastic characters back for a second and final brillant instalment in the franchise.

Yes, the cake was a lie. But it was also a lie told 4 years ago, so get over it! It’s all about potatoes these days; potatoes and Stephen Merchant, that is.

April of last year saw an incredible build up of hype around what eventually came to be one of our favourite games of the year, Portal 2, not least because the multi-player co-op element of it was and is one of the most fun, engaging, and downright mind-boggling experiences we’ve ever taken part in. The story of the single player stands amazingly well on its own, with the expectedly hilarious but frighteningly sinister GLaDOS, and her incredible cast of supporting characters – including Wheatley the robot, and the infamous founder of Aperture Science, Cave Johnson – providing a brilliantly written narrative offering constant appeal and immersion in the story.

What really stood out for us though – as mentioned previously – was the co-op gameplay, and allowing two players to get lost in a world of multiple portals and deadly test chambers made us rack our brains harder than ever before for solutions to what sometimes ended up being even the simplest puzzles, is what made us fall in love with yet another fantastic and utterly genius Valve production. What’s more, a fittingly bizarre but well thought out conclusion to the Portal story was something that made us smile, and unless they’re shelling us with Headcrabs or brutalizing us with a Tank, making us grin like kids on Christmas day is what Valve do best.

Its no secret that we have quite the fondness for Valve. Game after game, they inspire and amaze us with their creations, and Portal 2 instantly fits into a back catalog of immensely enjoyable experiences. Stephen Merchant’s performance as Wheatley turned him into an instant favourite character that proved to be just as funny and batshit insane as GLaDOS herself. There’s not a single flat joke in Portal 2 which helped make it my personal funniest game of the year thanks to the ever excellent writing team. The gameplay itself is an evolution of what Portal started back in 2007, and with numerous new puzzle solving methods at your fingertips, Portal 2 feels like the fleshed out sequel it was designed to be. Using portals to fling liquid gel all over the place was a particular highlight.

Then we come to the multiplayer. I’ll just come right out and say it – Portal 2 features the best designed co-op campaign I have ever played. No other game has truly understood what it means to share a co-op experience. Not only does the co-op campaign feature its own unique story, but the puzzles themselves are all painstakingly designed so that it is absolutely necessary to use both players to progress. And my god is it fun. Playing as Atlas and Peabody, 2 helpless little droids stuck at the mercy of the ever watchful GLaDOS as she toys with you with endless threats and accusations is constantly entertaining, and proves once again just why Valve are so good at what they do.

So, Valve, now that you’re done with all these games featuring a number ‘2’…

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