Candy is dandy…

The Orange Box… but the cake is fake!

Leading up to the Orange Box’s release, people were stumbling over each other, pushing each other out of the way to declare how amazing Portal is, how funny it is and it just may be “THE GAME OF THE YEAR!” You probably heard about the clever song by Jonathan Coulton or the funny dialogue throughout the game. Well, they were right. It is an awesome game and they should want to tell everyone about it. I think I figured out why they were so anxious to tell everyone to play the game. It all makes sense now.

The game probably needs no introduction or description. It’s plain and simple — you have a portal gun. You shoot it at a wall, open one side of the portal. Shoot it again somewhere else and the pathway is complete. That’s the easy part. The challenge and the fun begins when you have to solve the increasingly complex puzzles using your brain, your portal shooter-outer and a few spare crates. Sounds simple. It is. Perfectly simple. Through 19 levels, simple becomes simply amazing. As you progress, the more fun you have. There were times when you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I was having fun

But I can’t shake the feeling that being fun just isn’t enough to elicit the response it got. The real reason I think everyone gushed so profusely about it? Solving Portal makes you feel smart. There’s this sensation of, “there’s NO WAY someone else figured this out. I’m definitely the first person to do that.” There’s a real sense of accomplishment when you complete a level in Portal. The levels are masterfully designed and there’s a rush when you finally figure it out. I’m sure there is more than one way to get from point A to B on each level, but the enjoyment of finding a really clever way is very fulfilling. And fun, of course. I finished a few levels with my kids watching and the sensation of flying out of a portal was not lost on them. They thought it was great. I felt intellectually superior.

There’s something to be said about resolving conflict in a manner that doesn’t include a crow bar (or rocket launcher).

So yes, forget about Brain Age, forget about Chess. Want to play something that will make you feel like a genius? Portal is your game.

In my hands

The Orange BoxYeah, I’m about a week behind here, but I know you’ll forgive me. I’ve read so many positive things about Portal (our man Nat here, Michael has a good Orange Box round-up here) that I’ll be starting with that game.

Impressions will follow after I get around to it. I have to consume tonight’s episodes of Prison Break and Heroes. And a little Halo 3 multiplayer, too. I’ll get to it eventually!

Update: I got side-tracked the night before by some Halo 3 multiplayer action, so I didn’t get a chance to through the Orange Box disc in until last night. I originally thought I’d jump right into Portal, but decided to give Half Life 2 a look first. I may lose some gamer cred admitting this, but I never experienced the original Half-Life. So I was pretty confused for the hour or so I played HL2. It’s off to Wikipedia I go for some answers!

After a bit of wandering around in HL2, I jumped right into Portal. Fun fun fun. It’s one of those “holy crap, I’ve been playing for two hours?” game. I can’t wait to get back to it.