Ever have one of those days where you wake up in a brightly lit, starkly furnished scientific facility, and are put through a rigorous battery of experiments using physics-defying wormholes to navigate chambers filled with lethal obstacles before breakfast? Do you want to?
If you answered yes, then Portal is just the experience for you. Aperture Science has created a nifty little thing called the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, or portal gun, for short. Test users are required. There will be cake at the end of the testing. You might even make a friend. And then possibly kill them.
The conceit of Portal is in the portal gun. Use it on flat surfaces to create two ends of a wormhole. What goes in one hole comes out the other, and momentum is preserved. The portal gun is your only hope to make it through the 19 test chambers of the Aperture Science Laboratory, and to finally get that elusive piece of cake.
Portal is essentially a puzzle game played in the first-person perspective. One would be forgiven for mistaking it for just another first-person shooter, as it does feature a gun of sorts, and comes as it does from Valve Software, developers of the well-known Half-Life series. Portal is even a part of The Orange Box, Valve’s value-tastic collection of 5 games for the price of one available on PC, Xbox 360, and soon on the PS3. For those with a PC, Portal is available as a stand-alone product over at Valve’s own digital distribution network, Steam.
However, Portal is definitely not an FPS. There is almost no combat element to the game; what little combat there is focuses upon knocking over and deactivating gun turrets that would otherwise kill you. No, the only gun you get in this game shoots nothing but reality-bending elliptical wormhole entrances and exits. The portal gun can be used in a myriad of ways, from taking a shortcut across a long room to redirecting projectiles of various types to new targets, to dropping a nice big Weighted Storage Cube on a cute & cuddly voiced, deadly machine gun turret.
The game is rather short, as a first-time run through the 19 test chambers will likely not take more than 3 to 5 hours (mine was right at two and a half), but the length is supplemented by 6 additional reworked-for-advanced-difficulty chambers available to those who have completed the game once, per-level challenges based on time, portals used, and steps taken, and an awesome Developer Commentary mode, in which each level of the game features commentary nodes you can activate to hear a bit about the design philosophy of the area of the game you are currently in.
The game also has a wicked sense of humor, which I won’t spoil here but I will say that the only speaking role in the game belongs to GLaDOS, a computer AI, who prods you through the tests with colorful commentary on your progress. Portal is something hard to capture in words, so I urge you check out the game for yourself. Trust me it?s nothing but cake for those that do.