Portal, The Orange Box's puzzling suprise

I took advantage of Steam’s weekend deal and finally brought myself to buying The Orange Box, a collection of six amazing games published by Valve, three of which are new content, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. The first one I played and the one I was most looking forward to was Portal. Here are my thoughts.

Portal is a first person puzzle game. You play as a test subject in Aperture Science and the goal is to get from A to B by shooting portals that let you travel from one place to another. There are a total of 20 (00 – 19) stages, which may sound like very little, but each one is elaborate and unique. The game is actually pretty short, and I played it to completion in about 3 hours. As a stand alone game, this would be unacceptable, but as part of The Orange Box, this is actually very good value and an amazing component of the package.

The story is very good and the GlaDOS character very funny. You never really know when she’s being sarcastic or serious. The closing song, Still Alive, really wraps things up perfectly.

Portal level

Graphics are good, though not amazing. I had a few framerate problems at time, but it was probably just my relatively crappy 8400M graphics card being stubborn. Loading times were awful, though, but that seems to be a problem with all Valve games, so I won’t specifically blame Portal for that.

The gameplay itself is the heart of it all. There are obviouly the portals, but there are also cubes and buttons. As with other Source games, the physics engine is outstanding and all sorts of manuevers can be done by falling through portals.

All in all, this is an amazing game and a great addition to The Orange Box. If you like puzzle games, shooters, and good stories, this is the game for you.

Portal is available on its own on Steam, or as part of The Orange Box on Steam, Xbox 360, and PS3.