I don’t think there can be argument against Portal 2 winning game of the year. Every aspect of the game was excellent. Even for the high bar usually set for Valve, it exceeded expectations. Portal 2 takes you on a journey that consistently adds new elements to keep game play fresh and original. The addition of the gels, light diverting cubes, light bridges, and tractor beams are more than welcome and really keep the game fresh with all of the different puzzle combinations it has available.
Tired of looking at the walls of the Aperture Science Center? Ha ha… No. While Portal 2’s environment does feel familiar, its scenery changes at a nice pace. You start off in a worn down, under-kept facility; that is until you wake up ol’ gal. Then you literally get to see the facility change before your eyes.
Speaking of GLADoS, the characters of Portal 2 are some of the most memorable characters in gaming history. In the first Portal we really only got a taste of the real GLADoS. This time around we got to have 100% of her snarky, sarcastic, vengeful goodness for the entire ride. I really could have gone all game with just me and GLADoS, but the addition of Wheatley and Cave Johnson really puts Portal 2 over the top. The voice acting for all three characters were simply amazing; bringing life and personality to each of the characters you learned to love, even if they hated you. One specific item I think is notable is that the voice actors managed to bring so much personality to these characters that had limited facial expression (or none in Cave Johnson’s case).
Portal 2 also won MTB’s award for best co-op. As Jess stated in that piece, “if you did not play the co-operative campaign, you missed out on half the game.” Portal 2’s co-op introduces you to Atlas and P-Body; two robots that need to rely on each other to solve GLADoS’ test chambers. Unlike the puzzles in the single player, the co-op puzzles feel like they aren’t just designed to solve, but to have fun punishing your teammate. When you play it, sometimes you just can’t resist pulling a light bridge from underneath your partner, or maybe shoot that portal just a little too late so they smash into a wall.
From start to finish, Portal 2 was an absolute joy to play. If you have a friend who doesn’t like Portal 2, they probably shouldn’t be your friend. With unique game play, great story, great characters and character development, and awesome co-op, it’s obvious why Portal 2 is game of the year. Valve has once again raised the bar in so many aspects of game design. We don’t get games like Portal 2 every year; so savor it if you have it. And if you don’t, well, you need to get it right now.