The Art of Gaming

Game Review: Portal 2

Hello All!

I had a bit of a break between reviews so I decided it was a good time to do a game review!   I know Portal 2 isn’t brand new, but it’s fairly new and a game whose predecessor is one of my favorites.  I played through both the single player campaign and some of the coop online story over the past few weeks.   Read on to find out what I thought!

For those not familiar with the Portal series, it is basically a puzzle game in a first person shooter environment.   You create “portals” like doorways which allow you to move instantly from one part of the map to another and solve puzzles using your portal guns and other various items.   That’s pretty much the basics!



I was hesitant to play Portal 2 because, like most sequels, I was nervous they might not live up to the high expectations set by the originals.  Five minutes into the game, that fear was swept away by strings of hilarious dialogue and captivating series of events which pulled me into the storyline.    As I started playing, I started to appreciate how balanced the game felt.   A lot of times, after playing for a while, puzzle games can seem a bit tedious.   With Portal 2, the action sequences were matched very well storyline progression.  There were times where I felt rushed to complete puzzles (though there was no time limit) and other times where I felt I could almost relax and just enjoy simple puzzle solving fun.  These feelings were all controlled by how the storyline progression guided the game-play -  in my opinion, very well done.  And I can’t mention enough how well the writers incorporated comedic dialog into Portal 2.     Again, sometimes puzzle games can be a bit heavy at times and the comedy helped allow for a wonderful balance of entertainment when trying to think through various puzzles.   It’s hard to say how many hours it took me to complete the  single player campaign because I enjoy messing around in the puzzle environments, but I would say the story is under 10 hours for first time players.  Regardless, I was sad to see the credits (also uncontrollably laughing) and was begging for more.

I usually don’t focus too much on graphics, because I personally feel storyline and game-play are much more important.  But Portal 2, being a “next gen” game, had reasonably impressive graphics.  I wouldn’t say reference quality, but the environments were pleasingly detailed and well thought out.  The physics of the game, however, was fabulous.  This is extremely important in a game like this.  I never felt I was cheated by poor physics, rather I found myself always thinking, “wow, that’s kinda cool” or “I guess that’s not possible”.

If you are going to play coop, being able to communicate with your partner is key.  It is a puzzle game, and unlike other games Portal 2 coop cannot be completed by a single strong player.  Most of the puzzles require the synchronized action of two players in order to solve.   I would highly recommend the coop mode if you can play split screen OR you can play online with someone you know if you both have headsets.   I played Portal 2 coop primarily online with people I didn’t know and found it very frustrating to play without a headset.

All in all, I would highly recommend Portal 2 to anyone who enjoyed the first game, people who enjoy puzzle games in general or to anyone looking for something new – because it is a very unique game.   If you haven’t played the original, I would definitely play that first as this story line of the second is tied very closely to the original.  The original is available in The Orange Box on XBOX360 and PC which also includes Halflife 2 and Team Fortress 2 and also as a standalone game for PS3.  Portal 2 is available for XBOX360, PS3 and PC and I picked my copy up used for ~30 bucks.  So go get it!


That’s all for now!


There are a few things on the pallet for this month.  First, there is a huge release on 11-11-11.  If you hadn’t heard, the next in the Elder’s Scrolls series is coming out (Skyrim).  I have been waiting for this game for a very long time.  I plan to do a review, towards the end of the month/early December.  I like to take my time with game reviews and I hope I will be able to write my review around that time.

Art is also planning to send me the Epson 3010e to review.  I know many readers are interested in seeing how that performs, and I hope to have that review finished by the end of the month (before I finish the Skyrim review).  If all goes as planned I will be using the 3010e while I take a look at Skyrim:)

Stay tuned!


News And Comments

  • Joel

    Very interested in hearing the review on the Epson 3010!

  • Blue

    Any update on the Epson 3010 review estimated by end of month?



    • pete

      Hey Blue,

      I’ve had the Epson for about 5 days now. I’ve put close to 20 hours on it (mostly on Skyrim) and even done some 3D gaming! I will most likely finish evaluating the projector tomorrow night. As to whether I will also have the time to finish the write up…we’ll see.

      I can tell you this…..I like what I see. :)


  • Blue

    Great to hear! Looking forward to it. I’ve been sitting on the fence due to some of the lag reports some have been giving on this PJ and your review might be what pushes me either way!

    No pressure! lol

    Thanks for the update.


    • pete

      I have been playing a lot Skyrim which is a slower paced game and I did my 3D testing with StarCraft 2, neither of which are good for testing input lag qualitatively, but I and have not noticed any appreciable amount of lag. I will be doing faster paced stuff when I get home tonight, running the input lag tests.

      EDIT: The Epson I received is not the 3010e, so unfortunately I can’t test the wireless HDMI feature

  • Charlie

    Sorry, but are there any more updates on your lag findings for the 3010?

  • Charlie

    Thats quite the lag. Does the lag lessen/worsen in different modes and quality settings? I just ordered a 3010 off of amazon and want to know if the lag really breaks gaming on the projector. I may have to return it. I’ve also heard of costumers having problems with a few malfunctioning systems that have a loud Iris and lots of ghosting. It’s making me uneasy with my investment

    • pete

      It’s tough to say. It really depends on what type of games you are playing. I gave some more in depth thoughts of the input lag on the 3010 and about the projector in general in my full review

      I also wrote a quick blog on input lag in general a while back.

      Again, it really depends on what types of games you are playing. I played Skyrim and the new Assassins Creed for over a week without noticing any lag at all. I had other readers claim they didn’t notice any lag while playing Gran Turismo 5. I tested the 3010 at 100ms consistant input lag. There were no settings that I could find that improved this.

      Let’s put it this way, I would not want to use this as a primary gaming display if I was playing FPS competitively. I do however, love the look of the projector as a whole and would gladly use it for RPGs and slower paced games.

      And I would not worry too much about ghosting or loud iris. I noticed no such things while gaming.

  • Charlie

    Does playing in 3D effect the lag?

    • pete


      I did not test this, because I was having some trouble with the projector converting 2d-3d over VGA. I did not spend too much time trying to mess around with it. But I still have the projector here and will give it another go. I’ll let you know what I find (probably this weekend)