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Friday, October 26, 2007

Portal to heaven

About a week ago I heard about the game Portal. Just looking at the Wikipedia article was enough to make my head explode at the sheer awesomeness of it. Immediately I hit Demonoid and got downloadin'. Something's making BitTorrent work really badly for me. Something to do with NAT? Every time I try to figure it out it gets terribly complicated and I then go and do something else. But anyway, after leaving Azureus running overnight a couple of times I finally managed to torrent the last few bits and finished downloading Portal. It's a Windows game, and my computer is now free of the vice-like grip of Microsoft, so I downloaded Wine, which runs Windows programs on Linux. Luckily, Portal runs pretty well on Wine, but there's a few glitches, like not being able to see properly through the portals sometimes.

To the game itself: basically, if you own a computer, you have no excuse not to get this game. It is awesome. By far the most original game I've played in a long time. Watch the trailer here and you'll hopefully understand. I finished it in about 3 hours of solid, addicted playing, and it was just too great for words. But I'll come up with some anyway, in case you want to do yourself the indescribable disservice of not playing the game.

The game starts with the player character waking up in a cell in a research facility of some kind. The character has been chosen to test the "Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device", which creates portals on walls/floors/ceilings which you can see/walk/fall/push objects through. The cool thing about the portals is that you can jump through them retaining your momentum, which makes for some pretty cool manoeuvres. Picture jumping 10 metres to the floor, then going through a portal and suddenly you're flung out sideways from a wall in a different part of the room. Craaaazy. But that's not all! Guiding you through the tests is a sing-song-voiced AI who says some, well, pretty odd things. Make that pretty hilarious things. The humour in the game is really great, and not what you'd expect from a company that makes first person shooters.

The game consists of a series of rooms, in which you must use the portal gun to solve puzzles which allow you to progress to the next room. It starts off easy enough, and never gets particularly frustrating (unlike some puzzle games), but some of the later rooms are pretty tricky. After about 19 rooms the test ends and you are invited by the AI guide to have some cake. It's all over... or is it?

(No.)

When the game does finish, there's a song at the end that is the Best Video Game Music. I give this game a rating of five billion out of ten. No, just kidding. Six billion.

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