Why Portal 2 Has Me Worried
Can the sequel possibly live up to the original?
As most gamers know first-hand at this point, Portal was an absolutely fantastic game. It combined a great new mechanic with innovative puzzles, a strong story, charm and an extremely strong main character. The magic of Portal didn't lie in just one of the elements, each and every part of the game played into why it was so enjoyable. This, in essence, is why I am worried about Portal 2.
Portal 2 is already at a distinct disadvantage, following up a game that is on many players' favorite game list of all time. But more importantly, the game is (likely) continuing the story of the first game from where it left off. This poses a distinct challenge because it's not apparent that the strength of the GLaDoS character can shine through in a new environment and plot. Losing that part of GLaDoS alone could prove catastrophic for Portal 2.
While the puzzles in the first Portal worked well, they were small in number and very easy to construct given the testing room environment. Now that the main character has escaped and GLaDoS is also out in the wild, the environment is clearly going to be changing. As a matter of fact, if the environment somehow reverts back to what we saw in the first game, this latest venture will undoubtedly feel stale. Without these same constructs, it's not clear that a lot of the game's charm can be continued and that the puzzles will still be as challenging and enjoyable.
Part of why I loved Portal is in the way players interacted with the test facility. Before things turn south, players are passing through each chamber systematically, without much concern. Upon being sent to their death by GLaDoS, players must think on their toes and escape at the last moment. After escaping, players find themselves dashing around the innards of the facility, as well as through old test chambers as they work their way out of the building.
Progressing through the game in this manner felt so refreshing and unique. The same areas that were once a test to avoid a pit were now repurposed to be an escape route where players would approach the same room in a totally different way. Portal 2 won't likely feature this feeling, due entirely to the change of environment.
Finally, Portal 2 will likely need to increase the player character's abilities in order to keep the experience fresh and new feeling. A brand new set of moves for players to master and utilize creatively is, again, a reason why Portal succeeded.
Of course, all of this is not totally necessary in order to create a good game, but it is necessary if Valve hopes to create a better game. I'm sure Valve has something up their sleeves or else they wouldn't be making a full-fledged sequel to such a stellar game. My concern is that the game just won't live up to the original.
It'll be interesting to see the reaction of fans as well as the press if the game does lose one of these many things that comprised its charm. I'll be keeping a close eye on the game as well as an open-mind, but there is no question in my mind that Portal 2 has some very big shoes to fill.