The Orange Box is jammed packed will all sorts of first person shooting goodness. Valve has covered all the bases here and delivered what is without a doubt the single greatest bundle of games to date. When I was finally holding The Orange Box in hand, I knew exactly what I was going to be playing first. And while Team Fortress 2 had me most excited, I simply had to experience Portal. After all, it’s been over a year since it was announced and we haven’t received so much as a demo since. But as with all of Valve’s Half-Life deliveries in past, The Orange Box was well worth the wait.
At the start, Portal was exactly what I was expecting. It starts you off learning the basics of the physics engine while walking you through a series of test chambers. After a few, you’re given a limited Portal gun which can create a single portal. These steps might sound preliminary, but Portal really isn’t something you can just jump into without being shown the ropes a little. There’s far more to it than simply creating a couple wholes in the wall and walking through them. And you find that out pretty early on when you’re shown how momentum is affected, or rather, how it is not. 😉 Once you get the fully enabled Portal gun, the fun begins. Now you can create an entry and exit point wherever you please.
Each test chamber is a different puzzle you have to solve using portals and any objects you have access to. In some cases, there is a sequence that you must accomplish before moving on. Some times an object in the room may give you a hint as to what you need to do. Other times, you could spend quite a while trying to figure it out. Even when I was totally stumped, I never found that I was frustrated enough to resort to a walkthrough. Completing each test chamber really gives you a sense of accomplishment and I was more than willing to put the time in and figure things out for myself. Whereas, in some other games I’ve played recently, I quickly jumped online to figure out how to get past a troubling area.
One thing I didn’t expect from Portal was the pure charm it carries. It’s a very cute and funny game and in ways that really make it stand out from the crowd – not that it has any trouble doing that already. There were numerous times I found myself laughing out loud and even responding to what was being said in the game. Which is hella weird – I don’t think I’ve ever communicated back to a game before.
Upon completing Portal, a whole slew of additional game modes are unlocked for added replay value. Advanced mode is what you would expect – a harder version of the test chambers made difficult by fewer objects and increased hazards. The first time I attempted an Advanced chamber, I was fully stumped. But with my second attempt I was successful.
No matter what you’re playing right now, I would recommend pushing it aside and picking up The Orange Box.