Portal 2 – impressions

As a log time fan of much celebrated, uber-secretive video games developer Valve, I was excited about playing this much hyped sequel to the award winning Portal.  Valve are master game designers with an almost scientific approach to gameplay and structure that is unheard of in the industry.  One only has to look at their back-catalogue of games, with titles such as Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, Counter Strike and Half-Life to see where I’m coming from.  So naturally just a few minutes of this game left me with such awe and amazement.

The concept of Portal is an easy one.  It’s a puzzle game from the first person perspective where you use a gun that can fire portals, that you must then use to navigate the increasingly clever ‘test chambers’.  Developed from its initial short-lived previous game, which was celebrated not only for its ingenius puzzles but also its clever story telling and the malevolent character of super-computer GlaDOS, this takes that admittedly clever-ass blue print and develops it to its fullest potential.  This time we have the additional character of spherical robot buddy Wheatley, who pops up from time to time to help you on your way, whilst all the time you put up with the sarcastic and mildly threatening comments from your super computer nemesis, still holding a grudge after you killed her in the previous game.

I can honestly say if you never played Portal, you will certainly find this fresh and unique and quite unlike any other game on the market.  It’s both brain-melting and exciting, and often laugh-out oud funny.  Production values as expected from Valve are top-notch with a highly developed version of their Source game engine shown off brilliantly in dilapidated, post-apocalyptic chambers that live and breathe personality and atmosphere.

One aspect I’m yet to explore (bit itching to) is the co-operative multiplayer where you and an online buddy can traverse a series of test chambers, working together to solve each puzzle.  This again offers a unique and refreshing spin on multiplayer gaming and promises to be as addictive and absorbing as the main game.  I’ll certainly report back once I’ve had a proper go at it and on my thoughts of the game once I’ve finished it.

But for now, this is a must play.


Portal 2 – bot trust trailer

Because this highly anticipated first person puzzle-game-sequel is going to be utter genius.  And very funny.

… released on PC / XBOX 360 & PS3 21st April 2011.

Gaming musings 2011

The year ahead does look very exciting for gamers.  Some very big hitters are just on the horizon, either coming our way in the next few weeks, or making an appearance sometime during 2011. 

Of the ones I’m looking forward to the most, I’d have to place Crysis 2 as my most eagerly anticipated game this year.  A sequel to a game I never got to play but heard a great deal about.  A first-person shooter set in New York City during an alien invasion where you play as a super soldier with a specialist suit that gives you superhuman strength and other special abilities.  Developer’s Crytek have promised an open-ended game world where you can approach any situation from a variety of paths and tactically use your suit’s abilities to infiltrate, creep up on and generally overthrown the alien scum.  As Crytek are renowned for their expertise with graphics and artificial intelligence, from the brief snippets of gameplay and leaked footage I’ve seen, this could very much become a classic in the industry.

Another game that has got me excited is the Rockstar Games developed L.A. Noir.  Sort of Grand Theft Auto meets LA Confidential where you play through a rookie Cop’s ever evolving career as he rises up the ladder solving crimes and taking down bad guys.  The game is revolutionary for its use of motion capture facial animation and promises to change the way you play games with gameplay mechanics such as looking at a witness’s face to figure out if he’s telling the truth or lying.  This looks kinda like this year’s Heavy Rain with its deep movie-like storyline and fleshed out characters, and will certainly be one of the more unique games this year.

Epic Games returns with the latest entry in its gung-ho shooter series, namely Gears Of War 3.  Although I had a few issues with some of the gameplay and level design choices of Gears 2, I will still be picking this up just for it’s unrivalled shooting action, it’s never-bettered cover system and it’s stunning visual design, something which is a given when the game uses Epic’s much celebrated Unreal Engine 3 technology.

I.D. games makes a comeback too with open-world shooter / adventure Rage, a Mad-Max inspired post-apocolyptic actioner with ground breaking graphics and industry applauded design.  I.D. have rarely disappointed in the past, considering they were behind such classics as Doom and Quake, and with a helluva lot to prove considering their long hiatus, this will hopefully be well worth the wait.

Portal 2 will also be a sure bet when it arrives, coming from the genius game designer’s at Valve, the guys responsible for my favourite game of all time, Half-Life 2, and following on from the highly regarded, brilliantly designed Portal, this promises to be an evolution in the puzzle game genre, with as expected Valve’s unique sense of humour, gifted story telling and superb game mechanics. 

So to conclude.  2011 look like being a classic year for video games.  Some of the titles mentioned could well go onto to be award winners and looked back on as milestones in their field.  I will hopefully be getting my hands on all of them in the months to come, so expect my usual impressions when that happens.

Is this pure genius?

The latest trailer for next years hotly anticipated Portal 2 makes me feel a little less irritated by the silence over Half-Life 2: Episode 3.  By the looks of this, those geniuses at Valve certainly have some cool stuff in the works.