PS3 Review Page 3
While we are on the subject of leaving marks on the crowd, it's time to talk about this delightfully unique and fun game. I am of course talking about the surprise smash hit, Portal. If you haven't heard anything about this game, then I really suggest you just play it. You know that line that guy says in that movie... “Unfortunately no one can be... told what Portal is... you have to see it for yourself.” Well, that delightful chap was right onto the money!
Sound like fun? Well it is. This is pretty much the basis of portal. And when I say pretty much, I mean entirely. Portal is fun, innovative, fresh and damn entertaining. GLaDOS (the AI character) has a great dark sense of humour that will have you smiling all the way through the game.
The first portion of the game is set up in 19 puzzle chambers, where players must use portals to get from the beginning to the end. This will involve placing cubes on buttons, disabling turrets, overcoming obstacles, and so on. As with any puzzle game, they start out simple and get harder as you advance through the levels. After these puzzle chambers are all complete, there *IS* more... so don't just be happy to have the game end there as many people seem to have done.
First person platforming has been tried before. Some games even managed a half-decent job of it, but Portal eats those games up and runs away with them. Controlling Chell, the character, never feels uncomfortable or weird. Initially I had concerns with using a controller, as some later areas require very quick and precise movements that I thought would only be possible with the precision of a mouse. Luckily, as with all similar concerns regarding The Orange Box, this has translated perfectly to the SIXAXIS controller and feels absolutely natural.
One very nice aspect of the PS3 version is that, due to the way in which the levels are designed, this looks practically identical to the PC release. No sacrifices have been made, and it still runs perfectly. Load times are slightly longer, but still kept to about 6 or 7 seconds max. As far as aesthetics go, this is a winner!
Audio in Portal is fairly minimal, simply due to the nature of the game. However, what is there is great. My only complaint would be that the music is far too sparse, as what is there actually adds a lot to the overall personality of the game.
Yeah, this part of the review is short... but portal is, at heart, a puzzle game. Where it stands out is the simplicity within the game play mechanics. That's not to say it's boring or easy, but with no real flaws, how exactly can you expand on 'this game is great!'? This really is one game that all gamers should have a go of, because even though it is played in first-person, it is not a FPS. Even with it being exceedingly short, Portal is alone worth a full purchase price in my opinion (as are all four of the so far mentioned games included in The Orange Box).
Team Fortress 2...
Never being a Team Fortress fan back in the old Quake and Half-Life days, this wasn't really a selling point of The Orange Box to me, but for the sake of this review and general curiosity, I gave it a go. However, for the first 2 weeks of owning, I was unable to even load up the game. In my normal account, it froze my PS3 to the point where it restarted itself. I did a little research and found that apparently there were issues and to avoid them you had to make a new account just for TF2. Tried that, still no luck. It never connected. A mate who also bough The Orange box confirmed, he was having the exact same issues. Over the course of about 12 days I tried at least every second day to get on without any luck. Finally, whilst writing this review, I managed to get online with my new Team Fortress 2 only account, but not with my normal PSN account.
I'd like to tell you there is a saving grace of Team Fortress 2, as I hate to have any real negativity in the same review as Episode Two, Portal, etc. but I really failed to find anything that made this game enjoyable. It's a very one-dimensional class orientated team shooter that feels like it was made in the late 90s and has got a spot of new paint added to it. None of the weapons are particularly memorable, the classes all seem useless except for the one with the sentry guns, and the server setup is awful. How this game has got so much critical acclaim from other sites I really don't know. Perhaps if you live in America, where EA actually care about their gamers and provide decent server bandwidth, it magically becomes the best thing since sliced bread, however, I would go as far as to say this is the FPS equivalent to Lair. The only thing that makes this game worth considering is the company it keeps being a part of The Orange Box.
One thing that could have been nice is the overall feel of the game regarding graphics. It's all done using cartoony visuals that remind me somewhat of the old Outlaw western shooter game by LucasArts. Unfortunately, rather than coming off as quirky and delightful, they simply seem bland and undetailed. This goes also for the levels which seem very uninteresting.
Team Fortress 2 is a waste of space on the Blu-Ray disk that The Orange Box occupies. All the issues I have listed have been repeated to me from at least half a dozen other gamers, and I've heard no good thing said about it outside of American shores. I can only assume this is the type of thing that keeps all the McDonalds lovers, who are quite happy to fork out money for the same sub-par shit every single time, happy. As such, I will be more or less ignoring Team Fortress 2 in the score for this release. This is the epitome of crap.
The Orange Box as a Package...
Okay, so The Orange Box isn't perfect. Team Fortress 2 ruins that. However, all other aspects of the release are so good that I am going to completely ignore Team Fortress 2 for the purpose of scoring. There are, technically 5 games here, but it's REALLY only 4 games. However, with all 4 games being worthy of full priced purchases themselves, and all offering a second-to-none high-quality-in-all-areas experience with unmatched production values, The Orange Box really is as good as it gets. Okay, if you despise FPS you might only like Portal, and perhaps you might want to wait for a special price drop or something, but even then, if you have never played the Half-Life series, I urge you to give it a go. Half-Life and all the sequels really are unique in many ways and it is great that they have finally come to a nice release on consoles. There is very, very little sacrificed in the transition from PC to PS3 here and I cannot think of a title I could recommend more highly to any gamer. Go and get Half-Life 2: The Orange Box now! I'm serious!
Review By: Michael Hutchesson