Portal for Linux Review
key review info
- Game: Portal for Linux
- Platform: Linux
- Gamepad support: N/a
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
Portal is a one-of-a-kind puzzle game, developed by Valve and released on the Steam for Linux platform, along with other Valve titles.
Portal was initially launched in 2007, along with Half-Life 2. It quickly managed to gain a cult status due to its original gameplay and beautiful graphics.
The history of the game is actually almost as interesting as the game itself. Portal didn't start its life in Valve's labs, but in the shoes of another game called Narbacular Drop.
This game was developed by a few students and it caught the eye of a Valve employee, who invited the team to present Narbacular Drop at the Valve headquarters.
Valve's boss, Gabe Newell was so impressed with the game that he offered the students jobs in his company right away.
The Narbacular Drop idea remained the same, but the gameplay changed in order to use the assets from Half-Life 2. Even the writer from the Half-Life series contributed to the plot of Portal.
The only way to get Portal is to install Steam for Linux. The install procedure for Steam has been covered in detail in our Half-Life 2 review and you can check it out, if you encounter any major problems.
We played Portal 2 in Ubuntu 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) 64-bit and we didn't come across any major problems, especially after the game exited the Beta stages and was officially released.
Story and gameplay
The player will take the role of Chell, a girl that awakens in a glass cell, in the Aperture Science Enrichment Center.
Chell is forced by a resident AI, called GlaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System), to pass through a series of test chambers as part of an unknown experiment.
The player will soon find out that even if GlaDOS is merely an AI, its intentions are nefarious and it plans to dispose of Chell, once the experiment has been completed.
After just a few levels into the game, the players will receive the Portal Device (Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device), a gun that is essentially capable of shooting portals.
These portals must be used in solving the puzzles that are an integral part of the gameplay. The Portal Device can fire two portals, one being the entrance and one being the exit.
The interesting thing about this portal is that they can retain the speed and inertia of the object or person going through it. This particular property is very important and is necessary to solve some of the later puzzles in the game.
Even if the game doesn't have a high replay value, the atmosphere of Portal compels its players to return. It has a certain charm that can't be pinpointed through any specific feature.
Besides the gameplay's uniqueness, Portal also managed to raise the narration to a form of art. The voice of GlaDOS has remained imprinted in the collective consciousness of the gaming community.
If you have a fine ear, you will also hear the voice of GlaDOS in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim movie. Apparently, the director was so impressed by the AI's voice and performance that he convinced Valve to let him use it.
The game uses the Half-Life 2 engine and most of the assets, and this is clear right from the get-go. The Source engine is very scalable and it looks amazing, even six years later. This means that the user doesn't need a powerful computer to run this beautiful game.
Portal was considered to be more of an experiment, so the gameplay time is rather short. Any decent player will be able to finish the game in a just a few hours.
The learning curve is also a bit steep. If the first levels seem to be rather easy, the difficulty increases suddenly, leaving players frustrated in a level that was supposed to be a lot less challenging.
- Unique gameplay
- Beautiful engine
- Superb voicework
- Short game
There is no doubt in my mind that Portal is one of the best games released in the last 15 years. It made a huge impact in the gaming community, not just with its gameplay or concept.
Portal showed anyone that sometimes a good idea can be become a great game, if the right people are supporting it, and that anyone can become a successful developer with just a little perseverance.
Even if a second Portal game has been released in the meantime, you really need to play the original one in order to gain a proper perspective and to be able to judge other games by its quality.