by Stephen Edwards
I've come to something of a predicament. You see, roughly three months ago I completed a video game known as Portal 2. Portal 2, as you may or may not know, was an exceptionally well received video game (95 on metacritic if you're asking, the one true source for all that shall be rated and slated). It also happened to play better than any video game experience I could care to remember. The combination of story, humour and gameplay came together to create a truly remarkable experience, and one which seemingly everyone I have spoken to has agreed was something a bit special. The satisfaction I had completing the puzzles that GLaDOS, Wheatley and Cave Johnson set me was only matched by the excitement of rushing on to the next set of test chambers to see if I could crack the next set of challenges the team at Valve had in store. The addition of a stellar co-op mode was the icing on this already delicious chocolate muffin (no lame cake jokes from me today...).
However, as is the case with all good things (with the possible exception of The Rolling Stones), Portal 2 eventually came to an end. I completed the story mode, was satisfied with the amount of achievements I had gained (fuck whatever rat man's den is) and my co-op partner had buggered off on holiday (and whoever you start co-op with, you finish co-op with, you hear me!). So the time had come to remove Portal 2 from my Playstation and place it proudly on my shelf, in between The Office and series one of The Wire (surely the only things that can sit with Portal 2). And as is the way with most people, after completing this particular game, I thought it was only right to begin playing another video game. And here we come to the predicament I mentioned at the start.
After completing Portal 2, I thought hmmm..... what video game masterpiece shall I tackle now. I was strongly recommended Hitman: Blood Money, so I had a crack at that. I enjoyed the first couple of missions, but soon grew a little weary of the ageing graphics and the rather rigid controls. Next up I returned to the game I had been playing before Portal 2 fell into my life, Okami on the Playstation 2. I had previously ploughed a good twenty five hours into this game and pretty much loved every second of it. Yet here I am over 2 months later and I've only added an extra 4 hours onto my game time. The game still had a lot of charm, but the humour and story I'd been so enchanted by BP (Before Portal) suddenly seemed a bit too silly and immature AP (After Portal of course).
I was starting to get a little curious as to why these great games were suddenly not grabbing me like they had before. I decided to tackle the situation head on and put Mass Effect 2 into my Xbox, a game I had absolutely adored playing throughout the beginning of 2011 and something I knew I'd love to jump back into. I loaded my newly created evil female playthrough (Evil Shepard's the name, if you're wondering) and got ready to go on another rip roaring adventure with Garrus and the Normandy. This return to Mass Effect 2 lasted about thirty four minutes.
And this is where I find myself today. Since completing Portal 2 I've barely touched another video game. And I know the reason why. Before Portal 2, I had no idea how funny a video game could be. Some of my favourite games are considered humorous games (Grim Fandango and Secret of Monkey Island instantly spring to mind). Yet after Portal 2 I've come to realise that whilst these games might raise the odd smirk, Portal 2 actually had me in stitches. The wit of Stephen Merchant in particular constantly had me in tears, and I know when I eventually return to Portal 2 I'll be able to replay it as if I'm re-watching one of my favourite comedies. Yes, the gameplay and story in Portal 2 are excellent, but I've played games in the past that match and even surpass Portal 2 in those areas. No, for me the thing that separates this game above all others is that it brings out an act of emotion which no other game can match - the act of laughing.
So there you go. There's the story of how Portal 2 essentially ruined my video game life. But don't worry about me, there's still plenty of other forms of entertainment that can fill this void. And anyway, my co-op partner should be back from his holiday pretty soon...