Sunday, May 16, 2010


Progress: 11 of 19 rooms

Have you seen the movie The Cube? Portal is a puzzle game that looks like that movie and plays as a first person shooter; the only thing, is you're not really shooting anything. Set in the mysterious Aperture Science Laboratories, Portal has been called one of the most innovative video games and offers gamers hours of unique gameplay. The story begins with you in a room, with a voice telling you that your taking part in an experiment, that your job is to make it through the puzzles that are set before you. The gun you see in the banner above is your Portal Gun which you acquire almost right away. The Portal Gun enables you to create portals which are imperative to traverse through the different rooms, each with their own unique puzzle. Of course I'd heard of it, read some stories about it but just never played Portal myself. That is, until last week when developer Valve decided to give Portal away for free for a limited time; and before you ask, both PC and Mac editions are available.

The graphics are nothing special but it doesn't matter.  This game's original idea and addictive game play are why people are still playing it so many years later. I believe the designers were very smart to go with the very simple, The Cube, aesthetic. All the clean surfaces and bright lights hide the fact there is very little textures and shading. The rooms are sparse, save for maybe one or two traps. So far I've encountered only floating lights and boxes, which you use to activate necessary switches. The game is narrated by an ominous computer voice, part of the experiment in which you are involved.

What's the catch you may be wondering? I know what you Mac people are thinking: "A game?! None-the-less a FREE one?". Well it seams Valve wants you to download Steam. Steam is a very cool looking content delivery system. What's that? It's like how your iPhone is a content delivery system it can download different apps for you to play or rather an iTunes for games. Steam can download different games for you to play from the Valve library. My guess is that someone felt if you have this content delivery system on your computer you just might buy something. Steam comes in at 256mb and has stored about 4 gigs of info in my documents folder which I assume is the game.

The first thing I noticed when firing up Portal is I already knew how to play. Movement is based off of the regular first person controls. Players must solve physical puzzles and challenges including opening portals and maneuvering objects (and themselves) through space. I've played twice since downloading. The first time I went straight through six chapters with a little luck and some Fringe-like thinking. The second time I found myself through to room 11 before I got stuck and decided to write this. This game really makes you think out of the box (pun intended).

Download Portal and give it a whirl. You know you've been curious about it -- and you can always delete it. Thanks for the game, Valve. Hurry you only have until Monday, May 24th to download for FREE.


Thanks to reader jfajitas, who is in a Facebook relationship with his PC gaming set up, for sending in the link.

The thinking man's first person shooter

1 comment:

  1. Games like this one is what gaming is all about. Simple and easy to pick up,yet increasingly challenging. You can only get so far casually before some serious thinking becomes necessary. It's the challenges that keep you glued to the game, and coming back for more.