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Portal 2

Portal 2
« on: April 26, 2011, 12:43:36 am »

Played it, loved it. Good story telling, excellent puzzles. This really is the best of videogames as games AND experience.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2011, 12:47:08 am by ghostwheel »
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2011, 10:14:51 am »

I couldn't get very far in the first Portal. So I'm not looking into this one.
Seems like a puzzle game with shooter skin. Neither of which appeals to me.
Plus I don't get geek humour.

Did it change your life?
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2011, 10:34:54 am »

I very much liked the first Portal - I do like puzzle games and it was quite witty.

I must say Portal 2 left me incredibly cold. I constantly felt like the game was telling me what to do, what to think, what to see. At some point all manner of incredible things happen and I was just standing there, thinking: "Would you like me to do anything while you're busy showing off?"

The puzzles were daft as well, there was no sense of exploration or 'being' for me, considering that you get area after area where there is one way through that is so orchestrated you can't even jump over fences. Every time I tried to do something smart there was something that prevented me from doing so. Every time something happens there is some character shouting in your ear: "THIS IS GOING ON!". Every time you are solving a puzzle you will catch a glimpse of something bigger going on behind the scenes, as-if that is impressive after 6 hours.

To place this in perspective - even when a character was talking there would be another character shouting context about the first character. Sometimes they would bicker. And I would stand there, going - "Would you want me to do anything?"

The game never just leaves you alone to do what you want. If there is a puzzle there will be exactly one place to place a portal to solve it. And if you cannot find it, the game will pop up how to zoom just in case you have no agency of your own.

I was looking forward to it immensely, but after seeing how Michael was right about the indie game-playing ARG (which was a trick), playing through a game that was on-rails with overly dramatic set pieces, and seeing it comes with a in-game hat store... I did not like any of it.

If anything, it made me nostalgic for the low-budget look of Portal which did a great job with limited means, it was warm and cuddly, it surprised you with a companion cube. It was the small girl at the back of class who one day reveals herself as a great singer. Portal 2 is some pop singer created by a large budget. It is not out-and-out, it is of high quality, but there was nothing charming about it. It makes you long for that charming small girl and her seemingly natural character.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2011, 10:37:24 am by Jeroen D. Stout »
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2011, 10:58:53 am »

Quote
Did it change your life?

Lol, sarcasm much?

In any case, no it didn't change my life. It did however entertain me for quite a few hours.
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2011, 05:49:17 pm »

I'm never sarcastic about art. There is a difference between works of art that change your life and works of art that don't. I was just curious if Portal 2 had the potential to.
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2011, 07:43:30 pm »

I'm never sarcastic about art. There is a difference between works of art that change your life and works of art that don't. I was just curious if Portal 2 had the potential to.

I do think it has the potential to change the industry. It's a massively successful game with no shooting or killing. It's smartly written and the voice performances are excellent. After experiencing the poorly written, knuckle-dragging macho stupidity most games have, it's refreshing change of pace.
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2011, 03:48:28 am »

I must say Portal 2 left me incredibly cold. I constantly felt like the game was telling me what to do, what to think, what to see. At some point all manner of incredible things happen and I was just standing there, thinking: "Would you like me to do anything while you're busy showing off?"

Jeroen, I'm surprised to hear you voice this particular criticism of Portal 2 given your recent update to Dinner Date which removes the need for the player to interact at all (as a sidenote I thought your press release couching this update in purely positive terms like "adding"/"recognizing"/"expanding" was very funny+clever).  I'm curious what the distinction is for you between the way Valve has handled this tension between interaction & non-interaction vs. what you're doing (& are interested in continuing into your next project from the sound of it).
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2011, 12:53:54 am »

I must say Portal 2 left me incredibly cold. I constantly felt like the game was telling me what to do, what to think, what to see. At some point all manner of incredible things happen and I was just standing there, thinking: "Would you like me to do anything while you're busy showing off?"

Jeroen, I'm surprised to hear you voice this particular criticism of Portal 2 given your recent update to Dinner Date which removes the need for the player to interact at all (as a sidenote I thought your press release couching this update in purely positive terms like "adding"/"recognizing"/"expanding" was very funny+clever).  I'm curious what the distinction is for you between the way Valve has handled this tension between interaction & non-interaction vs. what you're doing (& are interested in continuing into your next project from the sound of it).

This similarity surprised me incredibly, while playing it, because I heard myself say the things I have heard people denounce Dinner Date for; so I also feel a bit strange to critique Valve (of all companies) with it. My problem, mostly, is that where Dinner Date evidently says 'you cannot do anything to change Julian' (and completely so after the update), Portal 2 suggests I will do impressive things, and then does not allow me to do anything I feel is impressive. I feel that when Dinner Date (or, for that matter, Dear Esther) announces itself to the player it sets a certain magic circle which sets you up for emotions brought about by the game without suggesting that you will be 'the hero'. Portal 2 does, I feel, not explicitly, but implicitly, by its theme, attitude and effects. It suggests 'epic' things are happening around me, but all I am doing is placing portals at designated areas; which is jarring to me; it places me as a character 'at the centre' of the narrative action but does not allow me to do anything when it comes to it. That is proper and good to me when the game does not suggest it is a puzzle game, or an action-adventure game; when it does, I cannot but wish that I solve puzzles or I have adventures. In some sense, Portal 2 was very polished and removed 'rough' parts where I felt it needed them: puzzles and action sequences. All of this would have diegetically been soothed for me by making the story about the other characters, rather than emphasizing me, a narratively insignificant character. It left no room for me to have my adventures and I felt it was tiring to go through epic scene after epic scene when my own actions had to be curbed just to make this possible.

Quite some time ago I felt that it was more important to have a 'hug Alyx' button than to have more dialogue in the Half Life series. To me it is not about the number of actions, rather the nature. Your main action as Freeman is shooting; your main action as Chell is placing portals. For both, this activity is removed every time something narratively interesting happens. I felt in past games (Portal 1, Half Life 2), Valve was interested in ambient storytelling, giving me agency in discovering the story. However, the games increasingly place emphasis on the spoken narrative as what I ought to care about; but that is something the game often does not give without taking away what I do as a player. My defence for Dinner Date would be that I never take away this freedom; like Dear Esther never takes away freedom to tell its narrative but stays at fixed 'level' of interaction.

This is the reason for the positive terms, even if it was consciously a bit tongue-in-cheek: I do honestly think the game should assume you are not interested in doing interactions when you do nothing, rather than 'taking over' when it considers you incapable of participating - the later being the 'rooted to the spot' cutscene. The idea for the next project remains that the game sees not doing anything as a valid way of playing the game and anything you do beyond this as you 'venturing' to do more. I do not intend to have a strict 'you do this' relation with the player which for the sake of story I then take away again, rather I want to have a safe harbour that means that 'doing nothing' equals 'doing well enough'; and offering ways to expand on this only by adding, not by subtracting.
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2011, 10:38:25 pm »

Your description of Portal 2 reminded me of this old blog post.
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2011, 08:16:18 pm »

My biggest problem with Portal 2 stemmed from the fact that occasionally this game would pop up and break the constancy of the loading screen, which I was coming to regard as something of an old friend.

Everyone keeps telling me I need to give it at least two hours, then it suddenly gets good. And I'm a dreadfully shallow old git in my old age, but the requirement for it to make the trudge worthwhile seems to set an unreasonably high target. Unless I can just leave the loadscreen on for two hours and join in when it get's good.

So... in the meantime, who's played L.A. Noire?
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2011, 09:54:30 am »

I haven't played LA Noire. It looks ugly. I think Rockstar's quest for realism doesn't suit them -I really admired the stylisation of Grand Theft Auto 3. I thought that was a beautiful game. David Cage does realism better. But I think we should accept that this medium is about synthetic images, not photographic ones. It's animation, not live action.

Anyway, from gameplay footage on YouTube it looks like Rockstar remade the same game again: cinematic cut scenes, rides in cars/on horses while exchanging conversation, mission that you have to complete, and back to a cut scene. In GTA 3 it was possible to ignore this but since then, their designs have been gravitating towards Story Telling and Cinema and away from open worlds that are actually interesting/amusing to explore.

So I'll wait for the price to go down before I give it a few hours of my time.
(and that's more than I could say for Portal 2 Wink )
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2011, 11:09:56 am »

Majewski had an interesting comment on LA Noire: http://gamedesignreviews.com/scrapbook/l-a-noire-fridge-horror/

Story Telling and Cinema are good, I think. But I do want a meaningful role in them, which a cutscene (or a Portal 'lock you in one place') does not do.

I am faced with a problem that I find LA Noire on some level interesting, but I cannot stomach the style and writing - it is a problem I also had with Heavy Rain, though I managed to cope with that for some hours. Perhaps these games offer brilliant novel ideas in terms of play - but I also will not go to a classical opera full of great ideas where they dress in modern chav outfits.
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2011, 02:49:53 pm »

It takes an artist to make art...
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #13 on: June 26, 2011, 06:27:26 pm »

I found a surprisingly thoughtful review on L.A. Noire on a sports blog, of all places.  http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/6625747/la-noire  It's quite long, but I enjoyed following the author's train of thought as he came to certain realizations.

I feel like the mainstream industry is tackling the process of adding story, meaning, and fulfillment to games almost as a battle of attrition, a head on charge.  It's a kind of hubris, like they can throw their technology and money and huge development teams at it and muscle something beautiful into existence.  Which is obviously absurd.

Re: Portal 2 - I think Jeroen was pretty spot on with his take, but I'll sum it up in one word: charm.  Portal 1 had it, Portal 2 not so much.  I don't care for puzzle games myself, but I played Portal 1 all the way through, and I would have to point to that charm as being the reason why.
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Re: Portal 2
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2011, 10:07:48 pm »

Quote
I found a surprisingly thoughtful review on L.A. Noire on a sports blog, of all places.  http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/6625747/la-noire  It's quite long, but I enjoyed following the author's train of thought as he came to certain realizations.

Great read! Thanks for the link!
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