More info »

Portal review


Open up portals to solve puzzles and earn snide remarks

Surprisingly entertaining

Portal - a surprising name for a surprising game. Portal is a puzzle-based game from Valve, available bundled in the Orange Box or as a Steam download for PC gamers. The game puts you through vigorous challenges that test your wit, cunning and creativity, taxing you to your very limits.

Thin layer of story to start it all up

As far as the story in Portal goes, there's little to tell, but it is set in the Half Life universe. You play as a female by the name of Chell, with very little background to her. The only other character in the game is GLaDOS (Genetic Life form and Disk Operating System), an AI. After Chell wakes up in a containment area, seemingly from an unknown time in cryostasis, GlaDOS comes over and says you must take part in some tests. The story further develops piece by piece as you clear each challenge, although not much is really ever found out about Aperture, the company behind the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, and the captors of Chell, leaving you little choice. A short story befits the game well, because there's not really much to explain, unless you really want to know more about Aperture Science, in which case, you're sadly out of luck.

Dull soundscape

As far as sounds go, Portal is a typical Valve game. It has generic background noise from different things such as moving platforms, balls of energy and firing turrets, but nothing you would expect to see in a 'full game', as it were. Even though the sounds do get repetitive, it never really bothers you because your mind is too busy focusing on how to solve the puzzle you're up against. As for voice acting, there's very little of it, but what there is, could be seen as pretty annoying because of the voice. But the voice adds to the personality of GlaDOS, as well as to the humour you're constantly in treat for throughout the game. This alone makes up for the lack of other sounds in the game as your focus is just to get to the end of the challenge in order to hear those funny remarks. The lack of sounds in general unfortunately lowers the score, but the voice acting and wit used in it more than make up for it.

Some clipping issues and difficult jumping

For those who know the Half Life series, the controls are pretty much the same in every way, shape and form in good as well as in bad. The manoeuvrability remains the same as in Half Life and can be a little annoying with the walls and corners clipping when you least expect to, and stopping you dead in your tracks. This is not such a big deal, but can become frustrating if you're trying to move quickly and you end up getting caught every time you try and go round a corner.

Jumping is almost as annoying as in all the Half Life games, as well as in Counter Strike, Day of Defeat etc. The short jump distance can be frustrating when you're trying to do that little extra foot in a jump, and fall to your certain death in an acid bath. However, there's been some progress and it is slightly easier to estimate where you're going to end up, except under extreme frustration, which can quickly turn to anger if you keep misjudging where you're going to go.


fun score

No Pros and Cons at this time