22 November 2007, terribly early in the morning

A screen shot from Portal.

I was up later than I should have been last night playing Portal. It’s a new sort-of-puzzle game from Valve that uses their Source Engine — that’s the same engine that powers Half-Life 2. The game is simple enough: you walk around with a gun that can shoot portals on to certain surfaces; you can then jump through these portals to travel from one point to another. There are 19 levels, each with puzzles that involves doing something funky with portals and your environment. The trailer basically sums up the game better than I can with text. The story is also simple enough: you wake up in a lab and are tasked with doing stuff with the portal gun; a computerized voice basically explains your situation, and is there talking to you throughout the game. You’re basically a lab rat for the Aperture company, testing out their portal gun. The game is funny; far funnier than I would have thought it would be. The computerized voice is constantly saying the sorts of things you hear at the end of a drug commercial. The game is fairly short. I went to bed after getting to level 18, just shy of finishing the game. I think there are bonus levels and other things to do once you’ve finished the core game. I imagine people will start making their own levels as well. Portal is selling via Steam for $20 right now. I bought it as part of Valve’s Orange Box, which also nets you Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2 Episodes 1, Half-Life 2, and Team Fortress 2. (Games you already own you can give to friends, so Dave is now the proud owner of Half-Life 2.) Portal is a lot of fun and I can’t recommend it enough.

(Aside: Playing the game reminded me somewhat of the sorts of nonsensical levels you could build in Marathon Infinity. The way you built levels in Forge let you do things that didn’t make any sense in the physical world. You could have tunnels that only existed if you viewed them from the front, that led to invisible rooms inside other rooms, and all sorts of other strange stuff. You could basically construct levels with fixed portals: lots of fun in multiplayer games.)

Update: I just finished the game. The last level is really something else. It’s like you’re playing a whole other game. I can’t wait to try the advanced levels. The ending was kick ass.



  1. Are you playing this on your mac via Bootcamp?

  2. Stop playing all these video games. you can baby sit Renee to keep you busy. =P

  3. Yeah, Boot Camp is your friend. Just finished Portal. What a crazy game. The last level is nuts.

  4. I totally agree.. Stop playing video games Ramanan! 8o|

Don't be shy, you can comment too!

Some things to keep in mind: You can style comments using Textile. In particular, *text* will get turned into text and _text_ will get turned into text. You can post a link using the command "linktext":link, so something like "google":http://www.google.com will get turned in to google. I may erase off-topic comments, or edit poorly formatted comments; I do this very rarely.