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Game review: The Orange Box – Portal

The Orange Box is a fairly new release for the Xbox 360, and is actually five games in one box, for the price of a regular game ($60 MSRP, $50 if you shop around). One of the games is Portal, and I just finished the main story (and the 6 “advanced maps”) last week.

This game is the most creative and new game I’ve played in ages, and, like most other reviewers, I’m saddened that it was such a short game (a few days of play). It’s a puzzle game, and one reviewer called it the most original puzzle game since Tetris. The premise is simple: you’re a lab rat “volunteer” who has to make it through 19 challenges using your portal gun. The gun lets you fire a blue or orange portal into certain wall/ceiling/floor surfaces. The two portals connect through some unexplained inter-dimentional rift. Need to get across a big pit of acid? Shoot a blue portal on the wall across the room, and an orange one on the wall next to you, and walk through. But what if the wall across the room can’t support a portal (since this is a lab, only white-tiled surfaces can have portals on them)? Put one portal on the floor, one high up on the wall behind you, and walk into the floor portal. You’ll appear high in the air above you, and fall — once again — into the portal on the floor, but this time at a high speed. When you materialize out of the portal high on the wall this time, you maintain your momentum (all rules of physics are obeyed) and go flying across the room, and across the pit! Here’s a photo showing two portals and how they connect:

portal wide pic

There’s a turret protecting the hallway. However, shoot an orange portal behind / next to it, and a blue one near you, and you can get behind the turret and disable it. Now, the puzzles in this game were pretty good, especially when you add in the 6 advanced maps. But what really makes this game shine is its humor. I don’t want to spoil it, but the game has a fantastically dark humor element, mostly in the form of the computer voice that is conducting the lab experiments, and also in the aforementioned gun turrets that speak dozens of funny snippets at you the whole time (“I see you!” they sometimes exclaim as they open fire, and “I don’t hate you.” when you destroy them).

All I can say is I’m very sad this game is over, and I really hope there’s a (longer) sequel some day.


1 Comment

  1. timojhen
    December 11, 2007

    Relieved to hear that my “next” game (after I end BioShock) is everything I’d hope for. Need to figure out how to get more time in the day!