Monday, January 23, 2012

Post-Portal rant

Hey Guys.

So, after acquiring Portal late last year (like, August/September/October [I downloaded a bit of the file at a time]), and then spending the next few months deciding to play it only after semester had finished, I finally sat down and gave it a go.

It follows that this blog post should be dedicated to what I thought of the game.

I started playing yesterday arvo, when it was discovered that the darling rabbit had eaten through the video cable for the PS2. Essentially, you would have the same amount of fun with it as someone with no sight. The audio cables were still intact, but my temper was not. So, I sat down in protest and hijacked my sister's desk so I could play Portal, because it was on my computer and I was still keen for some gaming.

The handling experience was quite different to anything I have tried before. First-person is usually something reserved for shoot-em-up games, and since I don't play a lot of those, I frankly stink at them. The most experience I could speak for would be the couple of weeks I spent playing LAN Halo on computers at school. Even then, I had all the tactical ability of Michael J. Caboose.

Which is not much.

So, we've established that I am much more used to the handling of games such as Zelda, Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy. Which are all good games in their own right. Franchises. Whatever. I think better when I can see the back of the character's head.

But the puzzles, and the physics! I've never seen something so wondrous! And Valve is paying me nothing. But the teleport/portal setup kept the physics and gravity intact. Flinging was a lot of fun, once you got the hang of it. Oh. Flinging?
Set up a portal on the wall. Set up a portal on the ground. Jump into the one on the ground and you fall out of the one on the wall at the same speed as you were falling. Fall faster or further, and you fling further.

<speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out>

according to GLaDOS. The passive-agressive evil robot.

But purely concerning the puzzles? It forced me to think. Not just grind through levels like every other game I try. Sure, there are moments when you're stuck, but the Block Puzzles I've done in Zelda and Golden Sun games are probably the closest 'large challenge'. Some of the stages were a matter of trying the same thing over and over again, because all you needed was some more momentum. Or you had to fire a portal in midair and for someone who can't drive first person video games, that is very hard. So, I get cranky. I yell at the screen, at GLaDOS, at the portal placement; anything. Talking to myself is my second-worst habit. (The worst is mumbling.) So, when my sister decided to talk to one of her mates last night, he also got to participate in my vented frustration at being unable to escape before getting incinerated. Or falling in the water. Portal device doesn't like the water. Just something you should note.

But, offsetting the cranky is the sheer exhilaration when finally, you manage to throw yourself in the right direction and land where you need to. Or you figure out where to stick the next portal. Or figure out how to use a gun when all you've got is an enemy missile launcher that only shoots at you and is five rooms away.

That is all okay. The sense of being rewarded at the end was greater than any lie-based cake that someone could cook up for me. I am Chell. And we are assuming the Party Escort Submission Position and going to that party.

(I realise how unstructured this post is. I also realise how weird 'party escort submission position' sounds to someone not familiar with Portal. it is lying down on the ground with your hands behind your head so the party escort robot can drag you away back into that incinerator I mentioned earlier.)

Told you GLaDOS was evil.

But not the cackling type of evil. It's like, passive aggressive to the max. And it's a lot of fun to imitate from time to time.

Once again, to someone unfamiliar with the series, this is bound to cause confusion.

I often find myself singing the lyrics to 'Want You Gone', which is from the Portal 2 soundtrack. It is the credits from the game. And, like the first, it is written from and sung by GLaDOS. So, passive agressive and mildly humorous. Prue tells me off for it though; citing that it is about 'someone hating someone else'.

But Prue, GLaDOS doesn't hate Chell. She only wants her gone.

See? This is what happens when you eat too much chocolate and spend your whole day being a taxi service and babysitter for your sisters. You write poorly-structured blog posts and spend the rest of the evening shooting nerf darts at the ceiling.

Well. It sounds good to me.

In short? Portal is spoon-bendingly awesome. It challenges the way you think in a game, and makes you use more than just the physical infrastructure of the platform. It has a good storyline which is enjoyable to some back to, which you will, because it's only a short game.

Also, I apologise to my other readers who may feel slightly alienated by the rambling and the specific nature of the blog post subject. Consider it a rant, and do with it what you want.

If you really want, you should give Portal a go. My laptop (herafter known as Shirosaki) handles it okay, so most other computers should be fine.

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