Monday 14 January, 2008
After an extensive second round play of Portal the game's complexity in both story and difficulty significantly increased. The last couple of puzzles of the supposed nineteen are slightly more time consuming and require more thinking before using the portal gun. The small turret robots add the enemy aspect to these levels as well as clever dark humor such as "I don't blame you" as they are knocked off by a slight push. Timing when and where to make your portals are part of the increased difficulty in the later levels. Then you pass the last level and you get to have cake, which is actually, death!
So having never played this game before, reaching the fire pit of death at the end of the level was an extreme turning point in the somewhat calm puzzle play. Navigating through the last level was definitely the funnest and most challenging part of the game. The you feel of escape and rule-breaking is quite a rewarding experience. The end to the game was mildly challenging and had a somewhat ambiguous ending. I have heard that this game is supposed to tie into the Half-Life games, but having never played those games it is hard for a new player to identify with the ending.
Portal is an impressively innovative game from the use of the portal gun being the only "weapon" and tool you use through the whole game. Being a short game, having only a couple of hours of main gameplay, Portal provides an easy to pick up and extremely fun way of playing. With simple controls and no solid storyline it is easy for anybody to start traveling through the game. In addition to an easy pick up, just messing around with the physics of the game can lead to fun distracting activities (such as the mentioned endless falling).
The conflict in this game mainly rises from the computer that seems to always be talking to you with a flat-line dark humor that is hard not to enjoy. Hidden areas throughout the game invoke a suspicion as to what exactly it is that you are doing. Finding blood written messages and a deep emotional expression for the companion cube, specially in the last level, make you paranoid as to the whole experiment you seem to have been part of. The use of space in the levels exploit the paranoia you will feel. A clean, scientific, testing lab instantly gives you the disturbing feeling of a lab rat.
With the completion of the game there are 6 bonus levels that allow you to choose from a heightened difficulty or limited time, footsteps, or portals. These extra levels lend themselves to a rewarding feeling if completed, but do not add much replay value. It is a definite worthwhile game with an extremely unique concept of gameplay. After playing this I will look into the other Orange Box games and hopefully find a connection as well as more great games.
This is pretty much what we're looking for. However, you don't actually describe the core gameplay mechanic. The second paragraph in your design section is exactly the kind of analysis we're looking for.
Friday 18 January, 2008 by inio
- Ian Rickard, your TA
(the following is included on all my first-round gradings, and should not be taken as any commentary on your writing.)
If you're interested, I'm happy to provide additional nit-picks of your writing. However as this course is not considered writing intensive, lapses in spelling and grammer of the type I would critique will not have any affect on your grade and so you really needn't worry about them. If you're interested in this type of feedback, email me at inio@soe and I'll provide it privately.