Go Back to Search 

General Description

Portal 2 is a first-person puzzle game developed by Valve Corporation and released for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 in April 2011. The game's primary mechanic is the portal gun which allows players to fire two differently colored portals onto certain surfaces. Once both portals are placed they become connected, so that players can move through one and come out the other regardless of their positions.

Players move through a series of test chambers that are made up of puzzles requiring clever use of the portal gun. These puzzles gradually grow more complex as new elements are introduced, like energy bridges that can be extended through portals and a handful of strange fluids that have various affects when applied to surfaces.

The game's plot is also a major factor of its appeal. GLaDOS, the AI antagonist from the first game, returns early on to berate the player and introduce the game's devious test chambers, and the original's famously biting comedy writing returns full-force.

Developer creativity is easily the game's biggest strength. New challenges to face with the clever, game-changing portal gun would be enough to put the game into the highest ranks, but the new puzzle elements and detailed new storyline help make it a truly memorable experience. The game's co-op mode is also quite impressive, allowing two players armed with their own portal guns to work together to solve particularly complicated puzzles.

Grade by Game Type Overall Grade
Ratings at a Glance
Facts: 1 Title: PORTAL 2
Creativity: 6 Publisher: VALVE
Business: 0 Developer: VALVE
People: 4 Year: 2011
Problem: 5 Genre: Puzzle Solving
Simulation: 0 Strengths: popularity, creativity, problem
Popularity: 9 Platforms: Mac
PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Extra: 0  
Rating Details

Classroom Facts

Portal 2 explores several innovative physics concepts in great detail. One trick used in several puzzles involves momentum. Players must place portals on surfaces so that they may fall into one at high speed in order to come flying out another. The game teaches this concept and others to players simply in earlier puzzles and later on integrates them into more complex pieces.

Creativity & Imagination

By the Player:

Portal 2 is a linear game, and each puzzle contains one specific solution. This can actually work to the game's detriment at times, when it seems like allowing players to come up with their own solutions may be more satisfying. For the most part, though, puzzles feel satisfying enough. Players will need to experiment within each test chamber, and figuring out the correct solution can feel personally satisfying on its own.

Additionally the game contains multiple hidden areas and Easter eggs for players to discover. While they are not at all required to enjoy the main game, they actually offer further insights into the game’s backstory.

By the Developer:

Portal 2 is as ingenious as the original Portal, and the new cast of characters and much lengthier campaign make it an even more impressive package. While the raw novelty of the portal gun is something many players will now already be familiar with, the game introduces plenty of new elements, like light bridges and various colored gels. These are combined with the basic concepts of the first game - using portals to move around objects and conserve momentum - to make a series of increasingly complex obstacle course-like puzzles.

The game's co-op mode offers more challenging puzzles that use the fairly amazing idea of putting two players equipped with their own portal guns in the same space.
The game's story is also much more complex this time around, adding characters and backstory to fill in the original game's sparse plot.

A fantastic voice cast helps bring the game's distinct characters to life - a robotic AI named Wheatley tries to help Chell escape the facility, and an adventure through Aperture Science's history allows players to hear extensive audio logs featuring the company's eccentric CEO Cave Johnson. The game is also littered with hidden surprises.

And finally the game is visually fantastic. Players will get to watch in real time as the Aperture Science Enrichment Center collapses and rebuilds itself around them as they attempt their escape. The game's soundtrack is also remarkable, as it progressively alters itself to suit the player's actions. Portal 2's huge production values constantly shine through.

Business Skills

Business skills are not a factor in Portal 2.

People Skills

Portal 2 contains a separate, complete cooperative mode that has two players controlling a pair of robots that are being put through a series of test chambers. This part of the game offers puzzles even more complex than those in the main campaign, and every one is built to require two players to work in tandem. One puzzle, for example, drops one player into a maze filled with lethal spike walls while the other player operates a set of switches from outside that allow the first player to move forward. Other puzzles require players to set up their four total portals into fairly complex sequences in order to proceed.

The malevolent AI GLaDOS also speaks to the players throughout, often making comments aimed at pitting the two robots against each other for comedic affect. Players unlock a series of emotes that allow their avatars to make high-fives, play rock paper scissors and eventually hug each other. These small details give the game loads of personality.

The game also offers a unique set of options for communications. Players can aim at a spot on a wall or an object and apply markers that will be visible to the other player to offer hints or suggestions or start short countdowns to aid in attempting to time complicated maneuvers. Players with headsets can naturally just speak to each other, but for players without headsets or those looking to experiment this system offers interesting alternatives.

Problem Solving

Portal 2 is all about creative problem solving. Generally players will enter a new test chamber and immediately be able to pick out what elements are going to be involved. Crates, switches, light bridges, different colors of goo, turrets and other traps all come into play frequently and players will quickly learn to identify the uses and hazards of each. The exit is usually easily visible, and it's up to players to figure how to use their portal guns to reach it.

Describing specific puzzles would be difficult, especially as the game offers such a wide variety. But it's safe to say that nearly every puzzle requires players to experiment and consider many elements carefully in order to succeed.


Portal 2 is not a simulation game.


Portal 2 has been praised enormously since its release, with many reviews calling it the most innovative game of the year. Several reviews also go out of their way to say that Portal 2 does a good job of avoiding the typical pitfalls that many titles face. The game's graphics, voiced dialogue and cooperative mode have all been praised in particular.

Controls & Options

Portal 2 contains basic audio and control options.


Portal 2 was rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB with descriptors for Fantasy Violence and Mild Language.