Developer/Publisher:  Valve
Year Released:  2007

Review by Clint Mullins (July, 2008)
Portal screenshotI had a lot of fun with this clever little first person puzzle game. Portal uses the same engine as Half-Life 2 (Source Engine) and was originally released as part of The Orange Box but it is now available as a download from Steam or boxed on its own.

You start the game as a subject in Aperture Laboratories' testing section. The only equipment you will carry the whole game is a portal gun and the occasional useful cube. You will need to make your way through 19 testing stations and your only companion is the voice of GLaDOS, the computer running the tests.

Portal is not a first person shooter. The portal gun enables you to fire a red and blue portal. Enter one and you will come out of the other. The puzzles involved are well thought out and give a good deal of satisfaction when solved. Jumping into a portal at speed means you can exit at speed as well. Clever manoeuvring of the portals and firing whilst falling enables you to reach places you could not before.

You will teleport in behind automatic firing turrets so you can push them over and destroy them. You will need to get cubes that are perched out of reach to drop on large red buttons to open doors. You will use the portal gun to teleport 'energy balls' to power up switches.

Portal screenshotThe graphics create the feel of a testing lab extremely well. The voice of the computer is excellent. Expect to be encouraged, cajoled and insulted with varying degrees of wit and sarcasm. Something about GLaDOS is not quite right and towards the end of the game you will need to meet her.

GLaDOS is voiced extremely well, sound effects are spot on, and the automatic firing turrets will tell you that they do not hate you when you destroy them.

The game is very linear, but that was not an issue for me in this type of game. If you listen closely to GLaDOS and keep an eye out for some of the scrawled symbols, presumably left by a previous test subject, you will usually be able to figure out where you need to go next.

Portal is not a very long game. It can be solved in as little as two hours, but most people will spend four or five hours in the lab. Although there are some timed puzzles where you will need to push a switch to open a door and do something before it closes, most of the time you can move at a leisurely pace. I am not great at first person shooters, but had no problems with the portal gun.

Portal achieves its goals very well. It will make you think and make you chuckle. The final part of the game is especially rewarding, and this is one game where you will sit through the credits to hear the final song. rating:  

Copyright © Clint Mullins 2008. All rights reserved.

System Requirements:
Minimum: 1.7GHz processor, 512MB RAM, DirectX 8 compatible video card, Windows 2000/XP/Vista

Recommended: Pentium 4 processor (3GHz or better), 1GB RAM, DirectX 9 compatible video card, Windows 2000/XP/Vista