I’m In It For the Science
Have you finished Portal 2 yet? Because if you haven’t, stop whatever you’re doing (sleeping, most likely – it’s 6am) and finish it. Because what’s after the cut deserves to be experienced the proper way: at the end of a glorious 6 hour story. Seriously. Don’t click. Don’t.
Before we get to the massive spoiler: they bloody well did it. Not just bigger, not just longer; Portal 2 is both better and funnier than Portal 1. I could write vast swathes of paragraphs on how funny Portal 2 consistently manages to be, 79% of which would be Wheatley quotes. So many Wheatley quotes. And GladOS quotes. And Cave quotes. And turret quotes. SO MANY QUOTES.
It really is the most inspiring game for a writer. Especially one who often attempts to try to pretend to believe he might take a shot at attempting to try to be funny, like myself. The opening two hours are packed so full of constant jokes, all perfectly written and performed – it’s the most organically, effortlessly funny game in forever. At least since the first Portal, but even that didn’t layer on the jokes quite so thick. That was a puzzle game with laughs thrown in: this is a comedy game with puzzles. And a comedy game OF puzzles, because writing the puzzles off would be rude when they’re so fantastically constructed. But for now, while my full review collates for the next day or so, I just want to celebrate SO MUCH FUNNY.
Did I mention the game stars Stephen Merchant and J.K. Simmons? Because it does. And such great performances, Merchant’s Wheatley in particular: as natural as can be, and with so many recorded lines that I get the feeling I probably missed out on LOADS this time around and now I want to just play through again, soaking in every last gag. It’s amazing to think that someone other than Merchant himself (or possibly Gervais, I guess) wrote any of his lines, because it all just sounds like the perfect Stephen Merchant character. And yet because the jokes are so perfectly pitched, they establish Wheatley as its own character, never just Celebrity Robot Voice #52.
I feel I should make this perfectly clear: this is a game during which I had to stop playing fairly regularly for a few moments at a time, just because I was laughing so hard. And when you’re not laughing, you’re grinning, and when you’re not grinning, you’re gasping at the astonishing level design. But that’s another post. This is CELEBRATE THE FUNNY.
AND CELEBRATE THE POTATO.
And also, celebrate the fact that they did what I thought would end up being impossible: matching the poignant majesty of Still Alive. The Jonathan Coulton song that plays over the end credits is beautiful, and – yes – funny.
Seriously, if you haven’t finished Portal 2, look away NOW YOU IDIOT.