So it seemed fitting to review one of the biggest games to drop for the year first.
Portal 2 is the epic sequel to Valve's smash hit of a mini game Portal. The first game offered a fun set of mind bending puzzles that took you through the Aperture Labs test facility. Valve doesn't disappoint with their sequel, instead offering a more vibrant and less sterile world to make your way through. While the old standby of chamber by chamber play still exists, epic plot twists make the game's three character story feel more in depth. Progressing through some of the later sections of the game give you a look at some of Aperture's history, full of fantastic dialogue that veterans of the first game will surely recognize.
To take a slightly different approach to the game, one thing that made Portal so appealing was the level of freedom that it offered. The game was abound with glitches--some minor and some very significant, that made speed running and finding alternate puzzle solutions incredibly fun. In Portal 2 Valve has actually cleaned the game up so well that most of this old fun was lost. There is often still more than one way to solve a puzzle, but it tends to be limited to skipping parts of the intended solution.
While the lack of speed-run-ability is annoying, it's obviously applicable to a very limited set of people. With that in mind, let's talk about the co-op. Co-op is something that more and more games are incorporating into their play, and Valve does a great job of showing that they're the best in the industry. Co-op portal feels smooth, and the puzzles bring back some of the old feelings from the original game. The puzzles are still very linear, but the amount of fun that giving people control offers is fantastic. Floating slowly through a tube of liquid while your friend is the one controlling that liquid offers quite a few hilarious encounters.
All in all Portal 2 absolutely lives up to its predecessor, and I would say it deserves the welcome it's gotten in the gaming community. The game is incredibly well built, and polishes some of the features and aspects that made Portal such a fantastic game.