This page was last modified 2007-12-03 20:36:39 by Puchu.Net user Choco. (Show history)

Portal is an excellent puzzle game with entertaining and humorous elements, played from first-person perspective.

Go to: [ Game Mechanics and Controls | Good | Bad | Notes ]

Developer Valve Software
Web site http://www.aperturescience.com/


Platform Microsoft Windows.
Cost $49.99 as part of the Orange Box, $19.95 standalone from Steam.
ESRB Rating TEEN. With blood and mild violence.

This is a game you shouldn't miss. Play through it in one setting. Play it again with the commentaries turned on, try the advanced puzzles. This game alone is worth buying the Orange Box, I think.

Integrating puzzle solving with portals is a great idea, but is a tough one to turn into enjoyable game. How to go beyond simply connecting two portals and send objects or people through? How to teach players game controls that they may not discover on their own? How to motivate players to focus on hints, story and elements you want them to remember and engage players so that you as a developer can sell more sequels? The Portal team at Valve has all of these questions figured out. And once I happily finished the game the first time, they played back the end theme song: icing on the cake.

Performing difficult moves has never been so rewarding, and when I connected all the dots I get such a rush of happy adrenaline that I am ready for more. This game has a lot of good potential! Just by reading it may not sound terribly exciting, but you can watch the trailer here to see what it's all about.

Game Mechanics and Controls

  • Portal gun will open up two portals. Enter one portal and exit in another.

Excellent Ideas

  • Story and dialog is very, very funny.
  • Voice acting is excellent.
  • End theme song is awesome.
  • Everything goes through portals: yourself, cubes, enemies, bullets, lights.
  • If you look inside an open portal, you can see the other side of the corresponding exiting portal.
  • Helpful hints nicely included in the environment, it's very difficult to get stuck and not know what to do.
  • As you exit a portal, your body will reorient with respect to gravity and your exiting speed is the same as when you enter the other portal. This narrows the window of opportunity to perform some high-precision moves, making some parts of the game challenging. This and some of the segments with timers adds a good sense of urgency to engage players.
  • The developer's commentary feature is worth visiting. In this mode, new objects will appear for players to interact. These objects will provide information regarding aspects of the game/level design, things developers observed during testing and development obstacles that they overcame. As the first half of Portal is basically training missions, the developers had to use numerous techniques to prod players the right way to learn skills and moves they can perform with the portal gun.


  • It's rather short.
  • The leg extensions on character model. It's supposed to help the character survive from falling extreme heights. But it seems to me that a pair of super-duper shoes will be more pleasing to look at. I think that's the only real complaint I have. Heh.

Other Notes

  • Lyrics for the end theme song is here.
  • It seems that the following commands are possible at the Aperture Science web site: help and login. After you log in (user name cjohnson and password is tier3), type help for available commands. In fact, you can try the apply command to enroll in the Enrichment program, and notes for history of Aperture Science.
  • Portal entry from Wikipedia.

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