#1 posted by Kell
on 2007/10/11 11:28:02
This deserves its own thread.
[WARNING] may contain spoliers [WARNING]
I played through Portal yesterday. One and a half times. And a bit again with the commentary. And 5 of the Advanced maps [ number 6 perplexes me like an optical illusion, persisting in its evident impossibility despite the knowledge that that cannot be so ]. I'm still remembering bits of it, mulling over what I'd like to replay the most, and where the design will be taken next.
While I'm sure no-one will have anything particularly bad to say about it, I still suspect Portal might be overshadowed by the understandable attention on the extravagantly continuing adventures of Gordon Freeman through the Half-Life story, and the incredibly stylish-yet-accessible fun-focused Team Fortress 2. This game will be considered the young, humorous, but slightly odd little sidekick. It might often be described as "quirky" and "innovative". It is those things, but it is more. I think it's a brilliant brilliant piece of game design, arguably better than its older siblings. And I [heart] it.
There are many things that Portal gets right, and ( at the last count ) only one thing overall it gets wrong. Just to get that out of the way first: the black sciencey insulation shielding texture used to cover surfaces not portalisable is....um...a tad black. It looks the part, exactly the sort of thing NASA would build in a giant test lab. And shiny is good, that helps distinguish it from the muted whites of pretty much every other surface in the game, but surely they could have used shiny gray. The problem was, there are sections where carefully maneuvering off ledges is required, but the ledges are black-paneled and almost totally unlit. So there was no way to see where the ledge I was standing on actually stopped and the one below poked out. I fell off a couple of times. When I didn't mean to :(
So what does Portal get right? Everything else.
I intend to ramble on at length about it, but before I bludgeon you with my intellect, how can I convey to the Func readership why Portal is a great game? What example can I cite?
Well: this is a game with an entire sub-section explicitly devoted to loving crates. It has actual consenting adult cratelove. With hearts on it. The game, via the equally brilliant AI overseer character, even warns you what to do if the crate starts talking to you.
And this isn't some pretentious gag self-consciously pasted on top of an otherwise conventional map in a desperate attempt to seem hip and clever. The crate is actually critical to your progress, while preping you for a later combat. And the humour is very much part of the unnerving ambience in which you find yourself. Top stuff.
It Is Pretty Much The Most Brilliant Game In A Very Long Time
#2 posted by czg
on 2007/10/11 11:32:35
A lot of that comes from the writing.
Too bad it is so short. Oh well, I still have the challenge levels to try.
I really hope things pick up with custom levels for this, I'm going to give it a spin as soon as the SDK is released.
Hey do you remember that time I said I was going to give you cake but instead I tried to murder you and you were all like 'No way!'?
I Didn't Have Any Problem With The Unportalable Texture Being Dark
#3 posted by czg
on 2007/10/11 11:41:41
Are you sure you didn't smear cake all over your screen?
#4 posted by Kell
on 2007/10/11 11:50:21
Re: antiportal shielding
TBH, it was only in those one or two locations that I got annoyed. If they'd added a thin light trim around the edge of the ledge ( oooh, this rhyming thing is infectious ) that would have solved it. Dark I don't mind. Dark and light is even better. But this just looked like an all-black texture. Particularly a problem in a game where the premise itself is physical interaction with the architecture.
Maybe my monitor gamma is just lower than everyone elses. Wouldn't be the first time :(
Are you sure you didn't smear cake all over your screen?
I didn't, but I may try that now you mention it. Why, where do you smear your cake?
I Smear It Here, There, Everywhere
#5 posted by czg
on 2007/10/11 12:14:49
Internal and external use only.
#6 posted by bal
on 2007/10/11 12:29:06
I'm stuck on the map with my weighted companion cube cause I <3 it so much. ^____^
(That's a lie, I killed it as fast as I could and GLaDOS congratulated me ^____~).
So yeah, Portal rocks, the writing is brilliant, the levels are great, it's too short. =(
The challenges are bloody difficult, but great fun if you're into bashing your face against white walls to figure stuff out.
The cake was good.
(metallic Voice): Weeeeeeeee
#7 posted by tron
on 2007/10/11 15:57:23
A couple of days ago I would not have expected Portal to be some of the best game writing I have seen in a long time. o_O
I've been going back over the first few levels with the commentary on and the amount of thought put into every little thing is amazing as well.
Best Credits Ever:
#8 posted by tron
on 2007/10/11 16:01:49
Massive massive spoilers in this by the way, so if you haven't played Portal yet don't listen. :)
Just Finished It
#9 posted by DaZ
on 2007/10/11 18:24:58
and loved every second of it. Great head scratching fun! There were a few puzzles that I was stuck on for a few minutes but then the solution suddenly appears in your head :) Still got to try the advanced chambers...
The "boss" battle at the end was fantastic! It was actually harder for me because I was laughing so much while trying to place portals in the correct places :)
"Actually, that thing is a waste container, go and rub your face in it!"
Absolutely fantastic, also, for those of you that have played most of Ep2, you will know how portal links in with it ;) ...
<<end spoilers>> ...
Association Of Amputees Of The Weak
#10 posted by nakasuhito on 2007/10/12 00:06:06
so whats the story with portal? i know very little about it. does it fit with the half-life world? donal duck?
#11 posted by Preach
on 2007/10/12 00:21:43
Portal is set in the same universe and Half-Life, but the rest of the story can be picked up from the game. If you want a bit more info, go to the Aperture Science website at
Type "login" without quotes and press enter to being. Be sure to read the instructions carefully!
#12 posted by Preach
on 2007/10/12 00:23:43
You'll need to know the password for the site, which is PORTAL. Any login name will do. Then just feel your way around.
#13 posted by -_-
on 2007/10/12 03:59:48
Why do you guys even want to download Portal? Its just confusing and wierd..
#14 posted by nakasuhito on 2007/10/12 05:17:02
well, the site is very.... confusing? :-)
i gave up half way through and then i remembered the powers of wikipedia, but i stopped reading the plot description, since its like a big spoiler in a way (waking up without remembering and all).
i can say that i am very intrigued now. i thought it was some lame ass arcade thing! hehe. man, this makes me sad since i'll probably wont get portal or half life episodes anytime soon :'-(
#15 posted by necros
on 2007/10/12 06:33:31
what struck me about at the 3rd or 4th challenge was that this puzzle game actually had a really good story!
i actually played this first, before ep2, because at the time i only had about an hour to play. when i got back, i started up ep2, but went back to portal before i even got half way through it.
i absolutely love the feel of this game. it feels like cube, which is one of my favourite movies with a bit of ss2 psycho computer mixed in. all it needed was moving rooms and gruesome death traps. :P
although, a map with moving rooms alone would still be awesome.
the last few challenges (before the escape), where you can see that there really is a world outside of the test chambers were well done. the empty observation booths scattered throughout the place give a really eerie feel.
honestly, i'm not sure if i'd really be interested in making maps for it, nor would i really play many custom maps. it wasn't really the gameplay that kept me going, after all. it was the wanting to see wtf it was all about. :)
as much as i too lamented the shortness of this game, i think it was a good call. it's a puzzle game after all, and while i would have liked to be immersed in the labrat mood a bit longer, it probably would have gotten worn out.
also, one thing that really bugged me was the 19th challenge. the actual challenge isn't hard at all, but because of the way the view angles swing when you go through a portal at certain orientations, it can cause the view to swing in wierd, unpredictable ways, which makes shooting new portals at the proper places and making sure you're still aligned with the old portal a real pain in the ass.
second, although i agree with kell and hate the grey/black squares for unportalable surfaces, i didn't like the textures because it looks really poor... reminds me of some ancient custom q1 textures from like 1998... :(
#16 posted by pjw
on 2007/10/12 06:47:29
Like I said in my post in the PC Games thread, I think this game is absolutely brilliant; it's one of the best things I've seen in years, and certainly in my top five or so games ever.
1) The excellent progression. I was constantly being challenged in a good way, without ever feeling super frustrated. It's hard to get those "wtf?!?"-->-->"ah-ha!!" moments in a game just right, and this game manages to string together a long sequence of them.
2) The puzzles themselves are cool, and it's a nice touch that there are different ways to solve them. I'm making my way through the advanced levels now (I've done 5 out of 6), and it's amazing how you can do more with fewer resources if you put your mind to it.
3) The overall atmosphere is great--especially the humor. It's pretty rare that I actually LOL for real while playing a game (the last time was actually relatively recently though, while playing Bioshock. One of the crazy dudes suddenly yelled "Everything's covered in semen!!" which was an insightful comment on the overuse of specularity in games if I ever heard one). In any case, Portal made me laugh a few times with the AI dialog; it's great writing and great delivery and timing.
I think I'm going to have to wade into Hammer and see if I can come up with some sadistic levels...
#17 posted by pjw
on 2007/10/12 06:49:46
That bit before "moments" should be:
I Will Look Forward To That Line
#18 posted by Lunaran
on 2007/10/12 08:56:14
Finding the first hidden room was such a joy. I went in hearing it was short and expecting 19 tests of a proof-of-concept, when suddenly it all starts to get sadistically different as soon as you learn that THE CAKE IS A LIE. The wierd tachikoma-ish instructor voice went from cute to suddenly terrifying.
anyone else find the secret login/pw? I'm poking through what it reveals right now.
Kell, the no-portal surface were perfectly well lit for me everywhere. I have no idea what you experienced. Please take screenshots.
The Bonus Levels Can Take Quite A While
#19 posted by BlackDog
on 2007/10/12 09:28:07
Getting that cute little guy to \o/ three times in a row is not exactly easy.
I figured out advanced no. 6, too. Yay!
#20 posted by metlslime
on 2007/10/12 12:21:38
Just finished it. Thank goodness it's short, becuase the only way I was able to stop playing was after i beat it. :)
Also, who'd expect that the best thing about a good puzzle game is the writing?
More later, I must sleep.
Im Gonna Go And Buy It
#21 posted by RickyT33
on 2007/10/12 16:25:53
for me 360!
#22 posted by pjw
on 2007/10/12 17:56:25
I did the first five of the six last night before stopping for sleep. The one with the sentries in cages was annoying, but I suspect I might have been making it harder than it was by missing some approach or other.
I very much liked the one with your Weighted Companion Sphere(tm) though.
On to the final one and the Challenge levels tonight.
The One With The Turrets
#23 posted by czg
on 2007/10/12 18:23:38
I ended up portaling to behind the two that are overlooking the room with the Weighted Companion Cubes and the 1500 Megawatt Super Colliding Super Button, then portaling all the Weighted Companion Cubes around me so they shielded me from the turrets when I crouched. Then it was just a matter of patience while I crouched all the way to the 1500 Megawatt Super Colliding Super Button while moving the Weighted Companion Cubes along with me.
Every time I picked one up a turret would go I can seeee yoouuu! and I would go Eeeek! but nothing happened.
I tried to do some thing where I would make a portal in the floor beside the 1500 Megawatt Super Colliding Super Button and then throw a Weighted Companion Cube from my safe spot and onto it, but it always fell back and knocked me into the danger zone.
I don't hate you. =]
#24 posted by pjw
on 2007/10/12 19:18:24
For some reason I never even tried crouching--I just thought "Well, my head will be sticking up, so..." I pushed stacks of two cubes around in a fussy painstaking manner whilst standing behind them and occasionally cursing.
#25 posted by than
on 2007/10/12 19:19:46
I love the sense of humour and writing. It would probably have gotten a bit dull without the computers talking to you all the time, so thank god Valve know what they are doing and know how to polish a good idea and turn it into a great game.
Oh, and the final couple of levels were a little bit a of a surprise. I wasn't sure what was going to happen toward the end, but the change in mood and sudden decrease in difficulty of the puzzles was interesting.
Plus the ending was totally great :)
I still have to play ep1 and ep2 along with Metastasis! HL2 is a gift from the gods.
Oh, and I've got Bioshock to play at work. PCs are great.