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Video Game of the Week – Portal 2

To call Portal 2 a puzzle game is like calling the Taj Mahal a building – it doesn’t begin to do justice to a masterpiece of inspiration, design and execution. In releasing a sequel to the original Portal title, which was one of the surprise hits of 2007, the developers at Valve Software might just have come up with the video game of the year.

In Portal 2 you awake in the Aperture Science Labs as Chell, the heroine of the original game. In your attempts to escape from the Labs and in your future explorations, you encounter a host of AI (artificial intelligence) characters, which can be both friendly and not-so-friendly but are always wildly entertaining.

It’s unusual for a storyline and narrative to overwhelm the action and puzzle sequences but that’s almost what happens here. The writing and graphics are immensely clever – one-liners combining with robotic expressions and animations to produce a stream of laugh-out-loud moments.

But Portal 2 is first and foremost a puzzle game, and it’s one that constantly tests a player’s ability to think and act creatively. To help you work your way through the game levels, you are provided with an Aperture Science Handheld Device – or portal gun – to create openings in the surrounding surfaces. These portals are how you move around the game and transport yourself between the various platforms.

You are also provided with other tools and testing materials, but it’s up to you to figure out how to use them. Successful navigation requires a careful study of the world around you and lots of experimentation. Suffice it to say that solving a puzzle and moving on to the next one can be immensely satisfying.

Portal 2 features a single-player campaign and a cooperative two-player experience that comes with its own unique set of puzzles and environments. In two-person mode, you can play locally or hook up with a friend online. Although you will need to work collaboratively to progress through the game, there is nothing to stop you playing a few tricks along the way, like opening a portal under your partner’s feet and dumping him into a deadly goo-pit.

Portal 2 takes the framework of the original Portal idea and transforms it into a wonderful journey that is extraordinarily stimulating and entertaining.  

Portal 2 is rated “E 10+” (fantasy violence, mild language) by the ESRB. Check out the ESRB video game ratings and content descriptors at ESRB.org

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC (Windows 7/Vista/XP), Mac

Genre: First-person action/puzzle

RRP: $59.99 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3); $49.99 (DVD-ROM)

Release Date: April 19, 2011

ESRB Rating: “E 10+” for Everyone 10 and older

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