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Designer: Valve / Single Player.

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    24 Reviews
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      19.12.2011 17:33
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      Good game, Brain Required

      Portal is a first person puzzle game.

      Set in Aperature science labs, you play as a scientist's daughter who has been subjected to testing. After a brief detention in the relaxation vault you have to navigate your way around a series of easy, challenging, and extremely frustrating levels. Each puzzle represents a floor - or story - of the Aperature science labs facility.

      Gameplay

      Portal makes you feel like you are there; the game is set out in a way which is comfortable, and somewhat useful. The portal enemies are limited to turrets and companion cubes. This is because, not only is it a science lab but you would not be able to kill the enemies with your portal gun. The companion cube is not designed as an enemy, just a little something to help you through the game. However, if dropped from a height, your companion can and will crush you. The turrets are annoying and relatively easy to kill, just stick them in an infinite loop. You can also use the turrets as weapons, just pick them up. You do not have a wide variety of weapons in the game, just a handheld device which shoot a portal on most surfaces - hence the name Portal. Your skills are limited to the stage of which you are at. At the start you have no gun, and later on you can fire two portals.

      Graphics

      Portal has basic graphic. However, you can adjust the settings to produce a realistic game. Although the walls all look very similar, you can easily tell which is made of what material.

      Sound

      The sounds in portal are of good quality. Occasionally when the sound disintegrates into static you are worried that your system has broken, don't be. The computer generated voice of the building will disintegrate into static when it is saying something important for example *spoiler* "I will no longer hold the truth from you in 3, 2, static" *End spoiler*

      Physics

      Portal has some complex physics. You can destroy quite a lot of the environment, the cameras especially. The physics also involve dropping a companion cube on the big red button. Another example is the "flying". If a portal is on the wall and you fall into one on the floor, the speed you gathered during the falling period is transferred trough the portals. Basically, speedy thing in = speedy thing out.

      General conclusion
      Portal is a great game for anyone who likes puzzles. Even if you don't like puzzles. I would recommend Portal to anyone.

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      19.02.2011 17:09
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      You can get this on Amazon for £10 with four other amazing games. Bargain!

      Portal was first seen in The Orange Box, along with the classic Half-Life 2 and its expansions, as well as Team Fortress 2. Not too much was expected from Portal - after all, its developer Valve only made it for a kind of test. However, it turns out to be one of the best games they've made. You can't get much better; the story is gripping, the gameplay is unique and there is some terrific voice acting. Now, you can get The Orange Box for a tenner, so it's worth giving it a go.

      Right, the story...really, there's not much I can tell you without giving away any spoilers. Basically, you are a test subject at Aperture Science labs. You must go through each test chamber, completing various puzzles. Through speakers, a voice of someone named GLaDOS will guide you. Right now, you may be thinking that the plot sounds a bit boring. Get it, though, and you will discover why Portal features one of the best storylines in any game.

      Onto the gameplay, now. Portal is a first-person game, but far different to the typical Call of Duty-type gameplay. You hold a device called the ASHPD (Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device). Interestingly, these initials are a shortening of the name Adrian Shephard (the main character from Half-Life: Opposing Force). This device can fire two different Portals: blue and orange. If you fire both at a wall and step through the blue one, you will come through the orange and vice versa.

      Does it sound a bit simple to you? If you are, you won't be thinking the same when you play. Some of the puzzles you come across in Portal are extremely challenging. At first, they are simple, but soon after they get a lot harder and involve angular velocity and momentum (I would go into depth with this, but its far too hard to describe!). Death will become a problem too - sometimes you have to figure out a way to get through rooms filled with a green, deadly liquid.

      Just like in Half-Life 2, the graphics in Portal are superb. The environments are detailed and look realistic. Every now and then, you just look around the room you're in and appreciate how good the game looks. However, they aren't perfect - the walls, ceilings and floors are all white for most of the game, so Portal doesn't always show off the graphics to their full potential.

      Sound-wise, Portal is flawless. Ellen McLain, who voices GLaDOS, shows expression in everything she says. When she makes a sarcastic comment, she says it in a sarcastic voice. When she's angered, she shows anger in her voice. That's the only voice work in the game, sadly, but its perfect. The game features music on several occasions and like the voice acting, the music is excellent. It suits the atmosphere of the game. Fast music plays when you are in a quick-paced section and slow, tense music plays when you are at the more dramatic parts of the game. The song at the credits, Still Alive, is the cherry on top. This features Ellen McLain's voice. Written by Jonathan Coulton, the lyrics are extremely funny, guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. It might even be worth getting the game just for that!

      And finally, the system requirements.

      PC Minimum Requirements:

      1.7 GHz Processor
      512MB RAM DirectX® 8.1 level Graphics Card (Requires support for SSE)
      Windows® 7 (32/64-bit)/Vista/XP
      Mouse
      Keyboard
      Internet Connection

      PC Recommended Requirements:

      Pentium 4 processor (3.0GHz, or better)
      1GB RAM, DirectX® 9 level Graphics Card
      Windows® 7 (32/64-bit)/Vista/XP
      Mouse
      Keyboard
      Internet Connection

      Mac Minimum Requirements:

      OS X version Leopard 10.5.8
      Snow Leopard 10.6.3, 1GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 8 or higher / ATI X1600 or higher
      Mouse
      Keyboard
      Internet Connection

      Overall, Portal is amazing. The story is seriously gripping and immersive, possibly even surreal. The gameplay, as I said, is unique and nothing else quite like it has been seen before. The graphics aren't flawless, but great looking all the same. The voice acting and music is excellent, and the credits song, 'Still Alive' is one of the most memorable and funny songs in gaming history. As an added bonus, you don't need a very powerful computer to play it. Sadly, it only lasts about five hours on your first playthrough. The value for money is still excellent, though!

      Price: Portal £19.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
      The Orange Box £10.36 (Amazon.co.uk)
      Developer: Valve
      Publisher: Valve

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      • More +
        30.11.2010 14:49
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        Good game for anyone

        Portal is a first person puzzle game.

        Set in Aperature science labs, you play as a scientist's daughter who has been subjected to testing. After a brief detention in the relaxation vault you have to navigate your way around a series of easy, challenging, and extremely frustrating levels. Each puzzle represents a floor - or story - of the Aperature science labs facility.

        Gameplay

        Portal makes you feel like you are there; the game is set out in a way which is comfortable, and somewhat useful. The portal enemies are limited to turrets and companion cubes. This is because, not only is it a science lab but you would not be able to kill the enemies with your portal gun. The companion cube is not designed as an enemy, just a little something to help you through the game. However, if dropped from a height, your companion can and will crush you. The turrets are annoying and relatively easy to kill, just stick them in an infinite loop. You can also use the turrets as weapons, just pick them up. You do not have a wide variety of weapons in the game, just a handheld device which shoot a portal on most surfaces - hence the name Portal. Your skills are limited to the stage of which you are at. At the start you have no gun, and later on you can fire two portals.

        Graphics

        Portal has basic graphic. However, you can adjust the settings to produce a realistic game. Although the walls all look very similar, you can easily tell which is made of what material.

        Sound

        The sounds in portal are of good quality. Occasionally when the sound disintegrates into static you are worried that your system has broken, don't be. The computer generated voice of the building will disintegrate into static when it is saying something important for example *spoiler* "I will no longer hold the truth from you in 3, 2, static" *End spoiler*

        Physics

        Portal has some complex physics. You can destroy quite a lot of the environment, the cameras especially. The physics also involve dropping a companion cube on the big red button. Another example is the "flying". If a portal is on the wall and you fall into one on the floor, the speed you gathered during the falling period is transferred trough the portals. Basically, speedy thing in = speedy thing out.

        General conclusion
        Portal is a great game for anyone who likes puzzles. Even if you don't like puzzles. I would recommend Portal to anyone.

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        27.11.2010 20:27

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        Portal is a First person action/puzzle game

        Portal is a First person action/puzzle game based in a science fiction setting, in
        which the player is required to solve number of physics based puzzles. The
        game relies heavily on the use of a device called the aperture science handheld
        portal device or portal gun which the player can use to make inter-dimensional
        portals between two set locations. The player plays through a number of test
        chambers in which they must use the portal gun along with other objects in order
        to find they're way to the exit. Portal is set in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center,
        which are the testing laboratories of a factious company called Aperture Laboratories or
        Aperture Science. The Enrichment Center Test Chambers have a very clean and sterile
        feel about it. The walls and floors in the test chambers are normally grey and
        there are not many objects except that which is essential to the puzzle. The look
        and feel of the test chambers is very reminiscent of the 2005 Michael Bay film,
        The Island, which had the same emphasis on clean sterile environments.
        The plot of portal is centred on Chell a test subject that wakes up in an aperture
        science relaxation chamber, without any recollection of how she got there. Chell
        is then greeted by an AI called GLaDOS and told she is in the Aperture Science Computer
        Aided Enrichment Center. Chell is then guided through a series of test chambers
        designed to test the aperture science handheld portal device.
        The use of the portal gun changes the way a player approaches a puzzle and helps to
        create a unique game play experience.

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        04.06.2010 23:58
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        Great concept .

        Portal is shot in the style of a first person shooter but is really a puzzle solving game in which you progress though twenty different science lab test chambers in search of your free cake.

        The story line is simplistic but where computer games are concerned I think too simple is better than too convoluted and the humour defiantly makes up for any shortfall.

        In each chamber your aim is to get to an exit door, this can involve the use of lifts, pressure sensors and redirecting balls of energy which bounce from object to object.

        The energy balls fry you, the ground dissolves you, there are battle robots which machine gun you and a crazy computer mentor which keeps you entertained with jokes about your impending death.

        The innovation of Portal is the portal gun which allows you to fire two gateways which you can then move directly between; if you want to transverse a large pool of acid you can put one portal under your feet and fire another one at the wall past the obstacle and you will simply fall though and come out on the other side.

        Portals create a lot of very unique challenges and are even more important to how you see your environment than they at first seem as the speed at which you enter them soon begins to play a key role.
        I think the portal gun certainly has potential but unfortunately the Portal game feels like a tutorial for a more diverse and engaging experience closer to the Half Life series.

        The game is very short and there isn't much point playing it more than once as you simply learn the answers. There are bonus levels but they don't add much, there are some extra challenges but half of them are just doing the same thing faster or more efficiently.

        All things considered Portal is a good game if you play just a couple of levels at a time so that it doesn't get repetitive and if you have someone sitting next to you so that you can discuss strategy but I don't think it really justifies the price tag.

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        29.05.2010 14:49
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        With portal 2 coming out soon, its a must buy

        This is a must have game for any PC gamer
        It most easily fits into the puzzle category

        You use the portal gun to fire the entrance and exit of the portal into different positions to complete the different puzzle rooms, varying in difficulty
        You play as a test subject in the laboratory and your progress in the experiment it monitored by GLaDOS, who also comically comments on your progress, giving the whole game a sort of light hearted atmosphere.

        The story is interesting with a couple of twists and the graphics are awesome.

        Once the game is over, there are advanced versions of some of the test chambers, there is a time trial mode as well as challenges to get through certain chambers in the least amount of steps or the least amount of portals which give the game a lot in terms of replay value.

        Portal is a classic game, that i would recommend to anyone, who is even slightly interested in gaming.
        Except mac owners, the game suffers severe frame rate drops compared to the same game running on a PC. This seems to be the same with most games ported through steam to a mac, well, live and learn.

        10/10

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        26.04.2010 00:15
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        A very interesting curiosity.

        Portal is a very pretty (in a clinical sort of way) first-person action/puzzle game released in 2007. It has a good atmosphere and is very intriguing from the outset.

        It doesn't take long to get the hang of Portal as it is very simplistic and straight-forward with the only puzzles being how to overcome a challenging physical environment.

        Leaping through one portal and out the other is great fun and even more fun is leaping through a series of portals which you create on the fly.

        There are two major downsides to Portal in my opinion:

        1. The game is ridiculously short. You will complete this game in no time and will never be challenged as much as you'd hoped.

        2. There is no multiplayer. I am not a member of the modding community for this game, so perhaps someone has made a multiplayer by now. All I can say is that a multiplayer fight using portal guns to outwit your opponent into an early death would be superb.

        Combined, these two aspects make the game poor value for money. However, if purchased as part of the Orange Box games bundle, it becomes a much better deal.

        Additionally, the story is terribly lame/non-existent/non-engaging, but the game has a good sense of humour and very nice credits music, for which it is famous.

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        04.03.2010 14:56
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        Unique, fascinating and addictive gameplay from start to finish.

        This is how it's done. If Portal were coded on a ZX Spectrum it would still raise the bar far above the heads of every other game of the last decade, because 100% rock solid gameplay is what drives this game. Utterly addictive, endlessly playable and the Source-driven engine and graphics don't hurt either.

        There's not much of a plot to speak of, and what little plot exists is only really fleshed out when the game is discussed on forums. There are some tie-ins with Valve's other powerhouse Orwellian extravaganza, Half-Life 2, but only the most ardent fanboy/girl would catch them, and not having played Half Life or its sequels/episodes won't have any impact whatsoever on your ability to enjoy Portal.

        Portal is a fascinating example of "less is more". The entire game is built upon one solitary game mechanic - the portal. The portals in the game work by opening up a gateway to another section of the game map. The portal gun is used to administer a blue and orange portal (each is assigned to a separate mouse button). The colours don't actually matter, it's just helpful to know which one you've already fired. You fire a portal against a surface which will accept one, then fire the second portal on an equally willing surface somewhere else, and you can now walk though the adjoining portals - think "wormhole". It sounds simplistic, but the possibilities for some really taxing and whacky puzzles are endless.

        My only real gripe with this game is the increasingly irritating voice of the antagonist, GLADOS, a synthetic intelligence which watches over your progress through the various rooms, offering advice and warnings which attempt to have a degree of humour, but in reality just hold you up as you wait to be granted access to the next puzzle. You'll be glad to know that you get to do battle with the whining hag at the end of the game.

        On top of the enthralling gameplay offered "out of the box" you can also design your own maps, and download the maps created by others. This means that even if you completely exhaust the single player campaign you can get more bang for your buck by taking part in modding and mapping communities and enjoying further hours of even more difficult puzzles. Portal: Prelude is one of the most polished attempts at a mod, which acts as an unofficial prequel to the events in Portal. The value for money alone with Portal is phenomenal.

        This game shows how solid gameplay will always take precedence over flashy graphics, ultra violence and endless arbitrary missions. It's an example of just how adept Valve are at game development, and how visionary they and the developers of Narbacular Drop (the original inspiration for Valve's Portal) really are.

        I would highly recommend that you buy this game - sometimes hype is deserved.

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          01.01.2010 22:19
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          It's cheap, buy it!

          Portal is a single player puzzle game released by Valve as part of their 2007 Orange Box release. It is available on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 with very little difference between the versions.

          This very original game is simplistic in its premise, but this premise is absolutely ingenious. Essentially, you control a woman called Chell through a series of levels which have a number of obstacles. You are equipped with a portal gun which, as the name suggests, lets you create portals at the touch of a button. One button is used to create one portal and a different button the other; this allows for independent control of each portal which is what makes it possible to solve these levels.

          The initial levels play like a tutorial and quickly teach you the basics of the game. You learn to fire your gun (it only works on certain surfaces), you learn the importance of momentum as you hurl yourself 30 feet into a portal below you and come flying out somewhere round a corner and you learn how to deal with pesky turrets. The levels increase in difficulty and culminate in a completely unexpected story twist (the unexpected thing is actually the fact that there IS a story) which ends with a taxing boss battle and the catchiest tune ever.

          Given the source engine, this game is very scalable and works on even the average machine. Despite this, graphics are fantastic as you would expect. All in all, highly recommended.

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          09.09.2009 16:58

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          A great game to pass a few hours until the next big release.

          What an odd little game.
          It starts off really simply, easing you into the simple premise of shooting a hole for you to walk through, and you will simply emerge from another hole. Simple. As the levels progress however, it becomes immediately obvious that there are so many ways to do each level, to pass each obstacle, to take out the enemy drones. You become almost hypnotised by the increasingly maniacal voice telling you what to do, and you dont even notice how fast you are progressing through the game. You dread the fast approaching ending, feeling hard done by with the length of the game but you are wrong. Dead wrong. The length is the only disappointing thing about this game, and although it is no marathon, by the end it has been a fun way to pass a few hours, and the challenges that are presented are really challenges. You can re-do key levels trying to get them done faster, or with fewer portals, and it is actually pretty damned hard to get your cake in each challenge. I have no idea how I did each level first time through, but you can bet your life that I wont be playing them the same way through next time. This game oozes replayability, both in terms of the game itself and the challenges. A great game to pass a few hours until the next big release, or whilst you wait for your mates to join you in TF2. If you don't own it, you should.

          Story/Plot: 5/10 - No real plot, but what there is serves its purpose well.
          Gameplay/Controls: 8/10 - Instantly familiar to CS fans everywhere. If it aint broke...
          Sound effects/Sound track: 7/10 -No soundtrackthat I remember, but the voice alone is worth the score.
          Graphics: 7/10 - Standard HL2 graphics. Good but not great.
          Overall (not an average): 8.5/10 - Worth buying, it is only cheap Hoping for this idea to be developed.

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          05.09.2009 15:01
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          Some will hate it, but it's very unique

          Portal is a highly original, utterly fantastic game created by Valve, that comes packaged in The Orange Box, which also contains Half Life 2 and the expansion, Episode One. However, Portal isn't really connected to the Half Life universe at all, and instead goes off in a whole other direction altogether, with impressive, mind-bending results.

          The game opens as the character awakens in a science lab. They then are forced to trek through a number of puzzles, with the goal being that they use a special gun called the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, to teleport themselves and various key objects through portals that they create, in order to reach the end of each stage. It's a thinking man's game, and one that offers a very original challenge, requiring the gamer not only to strategise but hone their sense of spatial awareness. And a little scientific knowledge about momentum probably wouldn't hurt either!

          With the promise by the lab's computer that you will recieve cake upon beating the game, there's a somewhat creepy and disturbing atmosphere about the whole thing, an uneasiness that penetrates through to the final mission, where the game has a few surprises up its sleeve. Needless to say, for such a minimalist premise, this is an incredibly engaging game with superb visuals and a unique challenge that's taxing, but never too difficult. The game is quite short, but I think this suits the methodology of the game - how long can you really distend this series of puzzles? Nevertheless, the game runs in at about 5-6 hours long for the average player which, to me, was more than enough considering the relatively small cost within the bundle of the Orange Box.

          Clever, challenging, and complex, this is the exact sort of game we should be encouraging - for a fun, slightly creepy, thinking man's game, this is one to get for sure.

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          30.08.2009 13:09

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          An excellent game showcasing Valve's ability

          Set in Apeture Science Labortaries, this intuative pluzzle game shows us how good a developer Valve really is. The game has you in the mysteious labs with a portal device which allows you to make two holes in the wall and walk through them ending up on the side of the other, also known as portals. The aim in all the levels is to reach the end using these portals ansd a bit of gravity and momentum.
          The graphics are excellent as the Source engine is used with the framerate on my 8600 GT graphicvs card never slowing. The sound is also great with the voice acting superb and the sound of the shooting things both humouress and loveable, until they start shooting you.
          The game is both challenging and addictive as i constanly wanted to find out more about the addictive story line which has you mysteriously going level on level to reaxch the hillarious ending.
          Buy the game with the Orange box and get Half life 2, episode 1 & 2 as well as Team fortress instead of alone due to high £9.99 price, in comparison.

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          09.06.2009 00:31
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          Ingenious idea and fantastic script make this an immensely enjoyable game

          Portal is an ingenious puzzle game with a hilarious back-story (more of that later). You are equipped with a "portal gun" - you fire it at a wall and it creates a portal through which you can walk, usually into another section of the room. The basic premise is that you're in some kind of training program, being tested by the computer - but it becomes apparent that the computer (who controls your whole environment, as the exam/test is fully automated) is slowly losing it!

          The game leads you in nicely, starting you off with pre-built portals (you build one half of the portal but not the other) until you get the hang of it. The portals themselves are nicely coded so that you can look into them and see the back of your head or whatever as if you were looking through a window into where the portal opens out, which is quite neat.

          There are some hilarious touches in this - the computer voiceovers are very quotable. In one early level, on entering the room you are told "This level is impossible. Do not attempt to solve it." Other such helpful advice includes "In dangerous testing environments, the Enrichment Center guarantees to always provide useful advice. For instance, the floor here will kill you. Try to avoid it." and of course the famous vacant promises of cake.

          There are no harsh penalties for dying, you just start from the beginning of the room until you've solved it.

          This is a really, really enjoyable game. The game would be great in itself but when you add in the computer's one-liners and deranged brain, there's entertainment all the way through. I don't know anyone who hasn't loved this game.

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          05.06.2009 15:24
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          The cake is a lie

          Originally released as part of the Half Life Orange Box Portal is a unique blend of a first person shooter and a puzzle, taking place in the mysterious Aperture Science Laboratories.

          You play as Chell, a young woman who awakes in the Aperture Science Enrichment Centre with just one goal, to survive a series of levels using the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device to teleport from A to B, whilst guided by the voice of the enigmatic GLaDOS. Although falls can't kill you there is a hell of a lot that can, ranging from fire, toxic pits, turret guns and energy balls, all of which can be overcome using the portal gun. Although the game starts off quite simply it rapidly increases in difficulty, often reaching the point of blood vessel popping frustration, not helped by GLaDOS's smug tongue in cheek comments.

          Like most Half Life games Portal has bizarre dark sense of humour, this time portrayed through a sadistic AI system known as GLaDOS, who plies you with the promise of cake, and is a little too attached to the companion cube than is entirely healthy. I personally find the game reminiscent of the film Cube, with it's never ending passageways, lethal traps, and somewhat unnerving momentos left by previous test subjects. The turrets are also quite creepy, as they have a nasty habit of saying 'I don't blame you' every time you destroy them. Portal is pretty much a computer programmer's worst nightmare.

          Although the game is quite short it makes up for this by having a second expert version of the game, even more impossible than the first, and the infuriating difficulty of the later levels can provide hours of punishment. Part of the charm of the game is that it isn't just a simple case of go through one hole, come out another, but you have to utilise your momentum and perfect your timing if you have any chance of passing the level, as well as manoeuvring turrets, cubes and overcoming energy barriers.

          Portal has everything a puzzle games needs. Action, suspense, hernia-inducing frustration, and a hilarious sense of humour. This game truly deserves it's cult status and remains one of Valve's greatest achievements.

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            22.04.2009 00:39
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            Valve change something after HL2 & totally screw the playability of this game

            Portal, brought to you by Valve who also created Half Life. Portal was made using the same design engine used to create Half Life 2 but don't let that fool you into thinking your PC will play this because it can play HL2.
            Would that it were my FPS playing friends but sadly its untrue.

            Portal is badly designed but its implementation is even worse, installing the game for the 1st time is nice & simple. It'll install Steam (Valves INCREDIBLY annoying copyright authentication system that insists you MUST be online to register the game, possibly the worst game authetication idea since the lenz lok in the 80's) then it'll install the game from the dvd, verify your Steam account and the validity of your game then it'll let you play it.

            Well I say "let you play it" but sadly Valve decided to do something to the game engine since they created HL2 and for certain users of certain graphics cards the game is unplayable. If you are the owner of an Intel onboard GMA graphics chip (they are shipped in many Dell & Lenovo/IBM machines) then this game is loadable and not much more.

            With a bit of mucking around (a fair bit actually) on the command line you might even get the chip to allow you to play the first few rooms but it will definately crash before you do much in room 3.

            It'll crash as soon as you try and leave the very 1st room, there are recommended fixes with command line instructions which you can try (along with incredibly stupid bits of advice from Valve like "AVG might be stopping the game from working") but you will be lucky to get the game to run at all.

            Sadly Valve were so dead set on making a kickass end product they forgot the 1st rule of game programming which is "make sure it'll run on everything currently available" and set out to write the game on the most powerful highest specification system they could possibly lay their hands on. The game requires a graphics chip or card that can handle something called pipelining and its something the Intel GMA onboard chip just isnt capable of.

            It seems I was being unfair on the game so I have now included the following information. So what are the bare minimum system specifications it needs to run on?

            O/S:- Windows XP/Vista or 2000
            Processor:- 1.7ghz
            Memory:- 512 MB RAM
            CD-DVD:- 8 Speed
            Video Card:- 128 MB RAM
            Direct X:- Version 8.0

            My Lenova Think Centre more than covers all these specs and STILL won't run the game. So there is the tale of woe, waste your £9.99 (its the cheapest price you can currently buy the game on its own for) and take the chance that you won't have similar graphics related issues.

            I will write an actual review of the game as soon as either Valve or Intel release a patch for my particular gaming issues. To date using various command line controls I have got as far as the 3rd room before the game crashed my entire machine stone dead several times. Suffice to say I won't be playing Portal until better fixes exist or I get a more powerful machine or a different graphics card.

            UPDATE:- After having purchased an ATI RADEON 9250 128mb PCI card for my machine I have actually been able to play my way through the first 5 or so rooms. Graphics are fairly sparse as textures in the rooms are very minimal and puzzle seems very simple, you just use Portals and the gun that fires them to activate switches and make your way from one side of a room to another. It may sound incredibly simple and thats its charm, the best puzzle games are extremely simple.

            It hooks you in with simple looking puzzles that gradually ramp up in difficulty and you learn new abilities on the way to help you on your journey. Obviously I'm only right near the start so I will update this review at a later date after I have played much further into the game.

            The game starts out by teaching you how to use 1 Portal to get to places, then how to use 2, then how to use the Portal gun firing just 1 Portal then you later get an upgrade and are able to fire 2 Portals to be able to move to places freely providing they are of a substance you CAN fire Portals onto as not every substance can take a Portal. You also use how to use momentum and physics to Portal jump which allows you to reach high places or jump very long distances.

            FURTHER UPDATE:- It actually only took me a few more hours to get to level 15 (fairly) and I got about halfway through it before getting stuck and had no choice but to consult a walkthrough. I progressed 1 room further in the same level and then got hopelessly stuck & decided to cheat which is incredibly easy as Valve left access to the developers console within easy reach so they clearly decided just like Half Life 2 that sections of this game are too hard to complete fairly.

            A few quibbles with the game, it doesn't have run or crouch function or keys for them either and there are obvious sections in the game where you clearly need to either run or crouch or do both (whats known as a duck jump in the Half Life universe) and I was left with the only option remaining which was to cheat and use noclip (allows you to move through objects, walls or even fly), I ended up doing this to work my way through the final 4 levels and reach the end of the game.

            This is where you meet GLADOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) who is the evil computer mastermind behind all the deaths and the rather nasty puzzles you've been trying to beat for the past 18 levels. She's kind of like a female version of Skynet but without the Terminators or the global war. She'll be quite nice to you at first, then sarcastic, then she'll lie to you, then be mean then lie to you some more. She'll even beg for mercy when you face off against her at the end of level 19.

            During the game she'll try and kill you in a kind humoured way, making you step into stuff thats toxic and is instant death, or guiding you into a live fire course for androids and then expecting you to survive. That course is the first but most definately not the last place you will meet turrets who have a polite little voice and say many pleasant things but it doesn't stop them trying to blow you into tiny pieces when their lasers lock onto you.

            GLADOS will also misguide you into energy balls that can (& will) vapourise you also resulting in instant death. The character you play is called Chell but like Gordon Freeman before her in Half Life before her she is also seemingly mute as she never speaks.

            Many reviews I have read of the game say it is too easy, I found it easy until I reached level 15 where it just got to silly skill level required to progress further into the level so I simply cheated to get any further. I found certain skills like Portal jumping or even double Portal jumping quite difficult to learn, maybe thats just my personal issues with visual acuity, depth perception and spacial awareness.

            I did have very high expectations for the game having seen playthroughs and many screenshots, I'll admit my graphics card couldn't fully do the game justice but it rendered everything required and the game is very barren and often quite dull. Because you are only doing a few things in terms of puzzles there isn't really all that much of a challenge (which I assume is why so many gamers called it "too easy"), I know I got stuck but I'm hardly the worlds greatest gamer.

            Portal starts out as a very good and playable game but fools you into believing it will get better where it doesn't, I might have missed a few things having cheated my way through the final 4 levels but I really can't believe it got all that better in terms of gameplayablility. Its graphics weren't great, its game play was average at best and it really has nothing to offer in terms of lastability as I doubt anyone would want to replay it once they'd completed it.

            If I am honest I don't even want to go back to it to even complete the game, it bored me that much. Portal proved to be disappointing and very over hyped sadly. If you like FPS games and don't already own it then i would say its worth a look on its novelty value alone.

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          • Product Details

            Set in the mysterious Aperture Science Laboratories, Portal has been called one of the most innovative new games on the horizon and will offer gamers hours of unique gameplay. Players must solve physical puzzles and challenges by opening portals to maneuvering objects, and themselves, through space.