Portal 2 is one of those magical games that has intelligent, addictive game design and yet keeps hammering you over and over again with how evolved its sense of humor is. It follows in the beloved tracks of Portal, a game that had only a ten-person development team (!) and is still adored to this day.
And better than that, both games still hold up! The puzzles are as good as ever and if you do a replay, you can vaguely remember certain levels and mechanics, but re-learning the various pitfalls and courses feels as interesting as it did the first time you played through.
Portal 2 is groundbreaking when you consider that the main character and main big bad are both female characters. (GLaDOS has a woman’s voice, anyway — she’ll always be among the most revered video game villains).
In Portal 2 we also get spoiled with a legend in sheep’s clothing as the indefatigable J.K. Simmons embodies the role of Aperture Science mogul Cave Johnson.
It’s a role that you kind of can’t believe until you hear it. You’re just playing an intense video game and all of a sudden J.K. Simmons is barking at you. His performance is so good.
But the pièce de résistance of the series is Stephen Merchant’s unbelievable performance as Wheatley, the alternate core designed by Aperture Science engineers to slow down GLaDOS by imprinting terrible ideas into her mainframe. Wheatley’s character arc is both charming and diabolical and infinitely satisfying.
If you have 15 minutes to kill, it’s well worth your time.
Stephen Merchant. Such an absolute god of comedy.
Oh, and as a bonus, here are all the “Extras” from Portal 2, which is just a collection of amazing little shorts, most of which feature J.K. Simmons as the amoral and hysterical Cave Johnson.
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