You didn’t hear it here first, but in case you haven’t, Portal 2 is a well crafted game—a well crafted full game in comparison to its experimental (and shorter) predecessor. We all know how the Portal series handles controlled enlightenment through cleverly designed puzzles, subtle visual cues and creatively written voice narration. The perfect mix of difficulty and reward which act as the addictive, drug-like incentives to keep playing.
I picked up Portal 2 a few days after it’s release and had the single player campaign completed in 2 days. I’ll explain some expectations I had for Portal 2 and elements I believe made my experience enjoyable and memorable.
Half-Life, we miss you.
I still haven’t decided if a main reason Portal 2 is so appealing to me is because I know it takes place within the Half-Life universe. Not to say it wouldn’t be interesting otherwise—but that specific tie-in makes the Portal games so much stronger. Knowing the Combine resides only a few test chambers above you on the surface is a fun thought. Although this isn’t really a complaint, I was incredibly excited for possible tie-ins to the Half-Life series with the new Portal. Wishful thinking? Maybe. We haven’t heard from Freeman since 2007 in Episode 2—other than a few Black Mesa bones thrown at us with the Portal series. However, after completing the single player campaign in Portal 2, I did go online to see if I missed any tie-ins. The only hint of Half-Life I should have discovered was the empty Borealis dock, which I missed anyway. Oh well. My fingers are crossed that we’ll hear more about the next Half-Life installment soon.
Logos, yes lets talk about logos.
I had written down a note to “Talk about the different logos” while I was playing Portal 2. Being a graphic designer and seeing the evolution of the Aperture brand while venturing from the facility’s depths was most amazing. Yes, there was the large, obvious, decayed type spelling “Aperture” hanging from ceilings at times. But I’m talking about the little treasures found throughout the facility; in offices, printed on coffee mugs and plastered on walls. Subtle, visual cues such as warning labels or posters referencing past eras. Minute glimpses into a modest narrative if you took the time to explore.
I really wanted to shed light onto the graphic design within Portal 2
because I’ve noticed Valve usually does a great job with this in their
other titles as well. It’s nice to see them continue this trend with
witty, well designed graphics, posters and environmental material in
Portal 2. It would be great to see more of this trend with other developers; I wont point fingers, but we have all seen our fair share of sub-par typography in one very specific zombie survival-horror franchise that has the initials: R.E. If you think about it, maybe there’s an absence of visually interesting, static imagery in most video game environments. I think I’m complaining again.
Thanks for sticking with me while I find my “voice” through this second article—and please, stay tuned for some more great content from some pretty cool guys that know games.