Portal: Still Alive

When the Orange Box came out, it was one of the best value for money releases the 360 has ever seen, and while the disc contained the gaming glory that is Half-Life 2, the main draw for a lot of people was a little title by the name of Portal. Aperture Science is now looking for more test subjects with Portal: Still Alive – a re-jigged version of the Orange Box game.

For those that have played the Orange Box game, many of the levels you encounter in the Arcade release will be familiar. This is no bad thing though – unless you’ve played Portal very recently, you’ll still have to engage a bit of the ol’ grey matter to remember what you did the last time you were here – it is, after all, something like 12 months since the original version was released.

For those unfamiliar with Portal (those poor unfortunate few who have somehow not played the game), let me explain the principles. You’re in a room, or a series of rooms, and need to get to the exit. That’s it. To achieve this goal, you have a handy device which will open a portal that you can just hop on through – position the exit portal where you want to emerge and Bob’s your Uncle. It’s a ridiculously simple premise which has given rise to a genius of a game. The game is also genuinely funny, with the mechanical voice of the observing computer explaining things to you in a fantastically uncaring way – for example, “the people of *insert subject home town here* must be really proud of you”.

Obviously, 1200MS points is a lot to pay for a game that many of us have already played as part of the Orange Box but there are plenty of challenge stages that have been designed to test your puzzle-solving skills to the limits. And Portal is a game that, like N+, is ridiculously simple to pick up but close to impossible to put down. Sure, it starts out easy enough, but before long you’re trying to work out how you can get an energy ball from one room to another, or how to get cubes onto pressure pads without touching the less-than-healthy floor or how to enter a room through a door that just won’t stay open. It’s genius stuff.

There’s also a smattering of genius in the available achievements, one ofthem “Out of the Blue” asks that, once you have the ability to generate two portals, you only ever come out of the blue ones. This, in itself, adds a new level to the puzzle solving as you’re constantly thinking of where you’re wanting to come out and making sure you fire off the correct portal.

Sure, a lot of the game is stuff that you will probably have seen on Orange Box, and it is one of the pricier releases, but Portal on XBLA is still a top title – ideal for newcomers or those who have already had their mind boggled with the earlier release.







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