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4.04.2009

Portal's Poor Parting Part

As you may have guessed, I really liked playing Portal. The game is full of fun dialog, quirky environments, and some really cool physics. The gist of the game is that you can create two portals, and anything that goes in one will come out the other. So, you create a portal on the other side of a locked door, put another one on a wall in the room you are trapped within, and walk out.

But there's much more to the game. Much more. Things like: dropping robots through portals onto the heads of other robots that are trying to kill you, throwing yourself off a cliff and into a portal so the inertia will carry you over the deadly slime, and, of course, cake... which is a lie (or so you surmise).

I really enjoyed the puzzles--overall.

But the last level, the final boss, the end?

Horrible. Hated it. And here's why:

  1. It's not about solving puzzles. Every other level requires you to figure out how to use the portals and other objects to accomplish your goal.

  2. There are no visual cues. Every other level has subtle markings that help you know what to do where.

  3. There's a time requirement. Every other level allows you to think, experiment, and feel your way toward the solution.

  4. You have to fall close enough to grab something. No other level has anything like this and, given the above, this isn't good.

In short, the final level of Portal is nothing like the rest of the game.

The lesson is this: If you make a game, make it consistent. Inconsistent worlds and game play are exceedingly frustrating for the players.

And I hate timed events.

That is all.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

P.S. Portal is not a child's game. It is very dark thematically.

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