If you liked Portal 1, I think you will enjoy Portal 2. Let's just say that and try to keep that in mind, since my earlier attempt at a review ended up sounding very negative. I suspect I'm just a negative, awful, whiny person, but that's for another day, so let's move on to the game.
Portal 1 followed a formula: puzzle, snark, elevator. And then the near-death, run for life, boss fight. Portal 2 does that too.
The first stage isn't a whole lot of fun. GLaDOS is the problem, having gone from "you are expendable and now I will kill you" to "you killed me and I am dead-set on revenge, but rather than try to kill you, I will instead do the same testing that I did before". There is eventually an explanation of sorts, GLaDOS having a testing dependency, but that still makes the first murder seem strange. But that stage ends and it gets more fun. Oh and there is a neat boss fight.
Weatley is the second stage. And third. Note that these are sort of arbitrary divisions based on my rapidly-decaying memory of what I just played.
Second stage has you down deep in the very bottom (hence down and deep) of the Aperture Laboratories. Down in the first test chambers, where it all began. Just think of testing, but in addition to unsafe design, everything else, including materials and construction technique, are also unsafe. It's really quite impressive. I got a bit of a Bioshock feel to it, which I think may just be Generic Stereotypical Male-Dominated 50s and 60s and Maybe 70s Depending on Who's Counting.
On that subject, here's a tip: blue goo makes you bounce, orange goo makes you fast, and white goo allows you to make portals. I had to look up the white good after finding myself stuck and absolutely confused, apparently having missed the instruction sign.
Stage three is back up in the modern areas and is almost like a compressed Portal 1, in that you have a few test chambers and then next thing you know you're running for your life and eventually facing off in a boss battle.
Speaking of which: the Portal 1 GLaDOS battle was way cooler. Okay? Much better fight. Rockets are cooler than bombs. Tearing off personality cores and dumping them in fire is cooler than attaching corrupt cores. Also, silly as it sounds, size matters. GLaDOS was in a much bigger space, or at least that was my perspective, which could very well be objectively wrong, but subjective problems are still problems.
Just to be sure I'm not misunderstood: it's a fun game. But.
Action music, dramatic escape, fleeing and action dramatic music and loading... loading... loading... Er. I realize there are technical and performance issues to consider, but Portal 2 seemed to be great at putting loading screens in terrible places. I thought Half Life 2 was bad, having given me a fear of long corridors, but Portal 2 really took it to a new level of action interruption.
In terms of puzzles, Portal 2 was pretty damn fun. There were the ones where I found myself just staring at it, wondering what I was missing. Staring in utter confusion. Oh! Half the time these turned out to be really, really basic solutions, based on basic information, which I had somehow failed to process, leading me to try ever more absurd methods. This might have had something to do with my friends having left a bottle of whiskey when they were house-sitting. But you know what? That's fun. The Click is fun. The Light Bulb is fun.
It seems to me that they have fewer quick reflexes puzzles. This might be a good thing for some people. I thought it was, since sometimes certain puzzles could end up like some horrible single-player mimic of WoW raiding: I know exactly what to do but one errant click, one ever so slight delay, and all is ruined. Of course it's not as bad when it means a slight loading screen rather than a full raid wipe. On the other hand, adding light bridges, funnels, aerial faith plates, three goos, and lasers allows for even more complexity in puzzles. Here's a hint for that one puzzle: you disable the one thing so you can get through, then turn it back on to boost that up, but then be ready to use another portal to disable it to raise the platform back again, and also something with the laser. Was that confusing? I hope so!
I've not yet had a chance to try out the co-op, since I don't know if any of my friends play it and WoW has given me a fear of random internet groups.
So buy Portal 2, and if they're still doing that free copy of Portal 1 thing, give that to a friend, so they buy Portal 2, and give the copy to a friend, in an endless pyramid scheme of gaming and portals.
Maybe I should look up a guide to doing reviews; I have a lot of games coming down the line, thanks to the friends who left the whiskey, they also gave me one of their old computers, which I've mentioned, but sometimes they read this so I'm taking shots in the dark for a public thank you to them.
1 hour ago