Always been a PC gamer. If I had a choice, if I was forced to choose, if someone put a gun against my head and said PC or console, the choice would be pretty easy. PC gaming. Perhaps that is nostalgic. Perhaps I’ve mastered mouse-keyboard so that is my happy place. Perhaps it’s because console gaming cannot touch the depth of MMO’s, either historically or certainly now. But truth be told, I’m a PC gaming, indoor enthusiast at heart.
One of my all time favorite games, bar none, had to be the original Half-Life. In fact Gordon Freeman and the Black Mesa complex have taken on an almost legendary status in the PC gaming world. Most people know of, or have heard about the Black Mesa complex and dark tactics which occurred inside. Truly one of PC gaming’s more epic moments took place within the confines of that virtual adrenaline fest. Produced by software giant Valve, they did little to rest on their laurels and produced Half-Life 2 a few years later. Better than the first rendition, Half-Life 2 brought a whole new interactivity to the gaming environment, blowing away the standard rules in favor of gravity guns, man-hacks, and brain melting puzzles. Once more, Valve refused to rest and have jumped into the fray with an innovative concept: The Orange Box.
Essentially three games in one, The Orange Box continues the Half-Life 2 story with yet another episodic event (actually episode 2), with all the sparks, oh-shit moments, and fun the franchise is famous for. However, secreted away on the disk of this excellent game, lies Portal, essentially a game within a game. This particular game takes mind bending puzzles to a whole new level cognitive mapping level.
Set as a lab rat forced to endure a labyrinth of puzzles with increasing difficulty, Portal puts you in control of a portal projector (for lack of a better word). The portal projector can put an orange and/or blue portal on the wall. Quite literally, you step into one portal, and exit the other, real time. Allow me to describe. You slap the blue portal on the wall, and the orange portal on the ceiling. Step into the wall portal, and you fall out of the ceiling — again, real time. Fascinating concept. So, the labyrinth is puzzle, after conundrum, after vexing situation of walls, force field, walls you are unable to portal, and automated machine guns which impede your way. Add to the game a comedic voice-over which promises “cake” and a party upon completion of the tests, and ambiance is set for a rousing puzzle-filled, good time.
Happy to say I completed Portal, without once cruising the internet for clues. Didn’t finish it in one bite, and had to think about some of the more complex scenarios, but finish I did. Thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying. Now I’m moving on to Team Fortress 2, and Episode 2. Well done Valve, you’ve created another highly rated, complex, enjoyable, entertainment experience. Keep up the excellent work.