Emptyeye’s Excellent Portal Excursion, Part 1

So The Orange Box arrived yesterday, and this meant I had to, for better or worse, actually play Portal. I played it for about 45 minutes, and got up to the point where you grab the second portal gun. And despite certain people’s asserting that I “haven’t even played the good part of the game” (Because, knowing how adverse I am to the hype/memes for the game, the obvious play to get me to continue was to hype it up even more), nor have I really had to think yet (Thus confirming my fear that I’ll eventually just get totally stuck and not be able to get any further and everyone will think I’m a moron for it), I’ve actually had a lot of fun with it, more than I expected to.
The first thing I noticed is that the atmosphere, whether Valve Software meant it to be or not, is actually pretty creepy right off the bat, although this may be an artifact of having the storyline spoiled for me before I played. Also, the game defeated my first attempt to do things in a way different than what it intended, when I tried to put a clipboard on a switch instead of the giant cube it intended me to. I was later told by Mr. “You Haven’t Played the Good Part” that my concept would have worked if I had taken it to its logical conclusion of “get ALL the objects in the room onto the switch, not just the clipboard”, but my inability to see said logical conclusion at all…well, doesn’t give me high hopes for my puzzle-solving abilities through the rest of the game.
The padded elevators that take you from room to room are kind of bizarre–and also sort of ironic in the sense that I’m working on a story about two characters unwillingly trapped in a stereotypical padded room. The decor on the elevator looked very much like that.
The game really does introduce portaling concepts in baby steps, one at a time. In the third test chamber, I had my first “herp-a-derp” moment before realizing “Oh, duh, the game wants me to grab the gun.” I had a couple other moments like that in other chambers, such as “Oh, duh, you can shoot into the ceiling,” “Oh, duh, you can shoot a blue portal and then go back into the orange portal I just came out of,” and “Oh, duh, I can open that door and then shoot a portal there.” I expect more such moments as I get into the later half of the game.
One thing I quickly found amusing was GlaDOS’s repeatedly scolding me for destroying test equipment. Sorry, but shooting portals at security cameras is just too much fun. I also liked when she called one of the tests “impossible”. Feeling a sense of “screw you game” (Again, possibly driven by the fact that I already know not all is as it seems), I felt accomplished when I figured that puzzle out, even though in hindsight it wasn’t all that difficult.
Something else I found amusing are the (admittedly brief) load times as you near the top of certain elevators, which may or may not be there on the PC version. I more than once had a “Portal 2006!” joke in my head as I rode these elevators.
Just to return to the atmosphere for a minute, besides the padded elevators I mentioned earlier, there’s at least one “institutional hallway” in going from test chamber to test chamber which I found creepy. The Borderlands-esque music didn’t hurt, either.
So, in all, it’s a lot better than I expected. Indeed, I’m inclined to say at this point that it really is as great as everyone says.

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