Monday, 23 February 2009

The Orange Box pt. 3: Portal

What the heck is that?
That, my friends, is an ill-fated 'Companion Cube'. It's an object you come across in the action-adventure-puzzle game Portal.

Was first released as a part of The Orange Box, by Valve, in 2007. It takes place in Aperture Science Laboratories, which we learn a small amount about in Half-Life 2: Episode 2.

This game created some of the most wide spread and strangest Internet phenomena of the last few years. If anyone has ever said to you 'The cake is a lie', they are directly quoting from this game. And you know what... the cake is a lie.

What happens?
The game has a very limited story, but you appear to play as a young woman who wakes up in the laboratories, and a robotic voice orders you to complete numerous tasks using 'portals'. Portals in this game are openings through the space and dimensions of reality that allow for the rapid travel of an individual between two points.

If that makes any sense, let me know.

However, during the course of the game, you find out that not all is at it seems, after being first convinced that you're just helping out with some experiments, it soon becomes clear that that is not all your testers want of you. Your life is put into jeopardy quite a bit.

What do you like about it?
It has some really ingenious puzzles, especially after you get the 'portal gun', which is a gun that enables your character to create their own portals.

There's also some real sinister aspects that creep into the game, and into you, as you realise just how bad off the character is. The robotic voice that directs you is eerie, and when you finally meet its source, you need to be prepared to fend for your life.

If, for some reason you haven't played this game yet, go play it. It's not like the other games in The Orange Box as it's not about surviving with the use of guns, for here you only have your wits and the portal gun to defend you. The puzzles are fun, if sometimes frustrating, and it's a game that makes you 'think', in a nice way.

And if you have already played it, go and play it again, just do some of the challenging modes this time. Or at least to listen to the song that plays during the end credits.

Concluding notes
That's my final review for The Orange Box. If you want to read the other reviews see:

Half-Life 2 review
Half-Life 2: Episode 1 review
Getting stuck in Half-Life 2: Episode 2
Half-Life 2: Episode 2 review

I won't be reviewing Team Fortress 2, as I don't have an XBox Live Gold account, which is needed for the online play of this game, and this game is all pretty much all online play.

Related links
Official The Orange Box website
Official Valve website
Wiki entry on Portal

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