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This Week in Gaming: Halo 2- Make Life Take Its Lemons Back

I'm not much of a FPS enjoyer. I've never gotten into the war-like games like Call of Duty, nor have I enjoyed the PvP games like Apex Legends. However, the FPS games I can't stop myself from playing are definitely the Valve-produced games, such as Half-Life 2 and the Portal games. Specifically, this week, I wanted to talk about Portal 2, my favorite FPS game of all time. I will say, though, that calling it an FPS may be a slight misnomer, as it isn't a game about shooting bad guys. It's a game where you utilize a portal gun to solve puzzles. And yes, it is as complex as it sounds. I'd like to touch on four main aspects of the game: visuals, story, soundtrack, and gameplay.

Visuals: 10/10

For a game released on April 18, 2011, the visuals are honestly astounding. The developers did a superb job designing Aperture Science, an old, decrepit facility designed for human testing. Thinking back to the original Portal, the facility looked extremely clean, even sterile. Portal 2 is set [99999] years after Portal, and the attention to detail in showing neglect from the facility supervisors is incredible.

Story: 10/10

As mentioned, this game picks up some time after the events of Portal, in which [spoiler alert!] Chell, the main character, removes parts of robot mastermind GLaDOS, the main antagonist, and incinerates them, culminating in the facility exploding. The final cutscene of Portal is from Chell's point of view, where she is slowly dragged back into the facility by an unseen robot limb. Chell is kept in containment for [99999] years, where she meets a new character, a metal "core" named Wheatley. Chell works together with Wheatley to uncover the mysteries of the facility, and eventually the two take down GLaDOS yet again, but that isn't all. After this, the tables turn in a very direct and interesting way. You'll have to play the game to learn more, because the plot of this game is incredibly well-written.

Soundtrack: 9/10

As the game takes place in a very old science facility, the music is electronic and industrial, even whimsical at times. The deeper you go into the facility, however, the more the music changes to an ambient, unstable, and eerie sound. In climactic moments, the soundtrack swells, almost as a chorus of robots might chant a war cry. The music is extremely well-placed in its environment, so big props to Mike Morasky, the scorer of Portal 2.

Gameplay: 10/10

This game hosts some of the hardest puzzles I've ever completed in a video game. The game's key mechanic is the portal gun, but this isn't an item you start out owning. Wheatley helps you find a blue portal gun, where the orange portal is placed in set locations by the testing initiative. Later on, you come across the dual portal device in a very familiar spot, greatly exhibiting poetic justice. In addition to just the portals, there are buttons, lasers, turrets, cubes, and many more puzzle elements. Similar to other Valve titles, the world itself is also part of the puzzle, and in the case of Portal 2, in very unique ways.

Overall, I can't recommend this game enough. Owning and operating a portal gun is one of the coolest feelings I've ever had while gaming, and I hope I've piqued your interest to try this game out. I will say, Portal 1 is kind of a prerequisite for Portal 2. Portal 2 can be enjoyed even if you haven't played the original Portal, but some key story elements will go over your head. For me, I love a game with deep lore, and this game definitely scratches that itch. If you think you're up to the challenge of a physics-based puzzle FPS, then give Portal 2 a go!



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