Top 100 Games of All-Time: #70

Portal 2

Release Date: April 18, 2011

Platform Played On: PS3

2018 Placement: #58 (-12)


What It Is:

Portal 2 is the longer version of Portal’s tech demo. While the first game took the gaming world (and internet) by storm, proclaiming stuff about cake, turning GLaDOS into an overnight superstar and getting Still Alive stuck in everyone’s heads, it was still a very short affair. Portal 2 takes the mechanics and humor of the first game and expands it into a “full” 8-10 hour story-based romp. It also adds a bunch of new twists and turns on how to use your portals effectively, keeping the entire concept fresh but never wearing out its welcome.

And while the puzzles are exciting and challenging, it’s the expansion of the Aperture Science story that’s really the shining beacon of this game. The first game cemented GLaDOS as an exceptional villain, but as you progress through Portal 2 you learn a lot more about Aperture as a whole. There’s also a fun co-op mode that really creates some fun portal puzzle situations and is a blast to go through with a friend.

Why It’s Important To Me:

I mean, it’s Portal. I liked the first game but this one just blew me away with the creativity and humor. The entire potato sequence had me rolling on the floor laughing (and not in an acronym way). It’s a longer game but it still never overstays its welcome. Each puzzle mechanic is introduced and used efficiently so the game never feels repetitive. The writing is just top-notch Valve at its finest.

It’s also just a testament to how first-person games don’t have to always be shooters. This game is pure puzzle from start to finish, you never fire a bullet yourself. It uses all the spaces it creates in a satisfying way without resorting to shooty-shooty bang-bang. And I’m not saying shooty-bang is bad, but at peak FPS inundation it was nice to see the first-person format used in a different way.

My Strongest Memory:

I already mentioned the potato sequence, which takes up a significant section of the game but the start of it is probably the one line that’s stuck with me for over a decade. “Oh hi, how are you holding up? BECAUSE I’M A POTATO.” The delivery of that line nearly made me die laughing the first time I heard it. And then there’s Space Core, who I actually have a print of fanart of on my wall. Yes, Space Core was a simple core with a simple joke but I still loved him.

Wheatley is also a top-tier character. Stephen Merchant does a wonderful job delivering his lines. Honestly I don’t want to give away more about this game than I have to. It’s just so charming, fun, and exhilarating to play. Every aspect of the game just drips with quality and it’s honestly a shame Valve doesn’t make games anymore.

Why It’s #70:

I love Portal 2. It’s one of those few games that is perfectly polished from start to finish. I don’t wish there was more of it, I don’t wish there was less of it. It’s the Goldilocks of puzzle games – just right. I don’t have strong emotional ties to it, but it is just damn good and will still quote “BECAUSE I’M A POTATO!” to myself every now and then.

Or “I’m in space.”

It’s a game that sticks with you.