Monday, October 14, 2019

A Portal Back to 2008

Apparently abandoning WoW Classic has opened a mid 2000's sized hole in my heart because I played Portal all weekend. That was certainly not the plan. In my last post I mentioned that I like to be playing around 3 games at a time: a multiplayer game, a long-form RPG/strategy game, and a shorter 'actiony' game. We've all been on the 'overwhelmed by the backlog train' so I'll skip that discussion. I decided to simply list every platform I had either hooked up or installed into a notepad file and then use random.org to randomly pick one out of the hat.

The winner was the Xbox 360 I keep hooked up for all the games that never made it to the Xbox One's Backwards Compatibility program. My 360 collection isn't particularly large, I tend to only buy Xboxs (Xboxes? Xboxii?) because my college friends use them for multiplayer games. So the few physical games I have either tend to be shooters that I would rather play on the PC, or long RPGs that don't fit my criteria. I logged on to the Xbox One to collect this half moth's Games with Golds and decided to look through the digital games on there. We had a couple of promising prospects, Ikargua and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, but Portal struck out at me.

Portal should probably fit under 'game I would rather play on PC'. But while the end puzzles do ask for some dexterity, even my meager controller skills were up to the task.  Portal also isn't particularly 'actiony'. But it is a short and cohesive experience and I have a lot of room in my gaming life for that.

What attracted me in particular is the extra challenge maps added to this version of the game. The 360 version has 14 extra maps that weren't added to any other version and I wanted to give them a shot. I'm sure there is a mod to add these to the PC version but I didn't want to bother with any of that just for an evening long experience.

Except what was supposed to be an evening ended up being two evenings and change. I decided to play through the first couple levels of the campaign to get bearings and that turned into a full playthrough. Then on to the challenge maps which were pretty good. And now that you mention it, I never actually played through these developer commentary tracks...

It was nice, not just to play through an old favorite, but to unhook from the 'live services' machine. Two gameplay sessions without fussing about DLC or patch notes or bugs or busy work mechanics. Just pure distilled gameplay like momma used to make. It's nice to know that even though Valvue doesn't make games like this anymore, I can still go back and play it anytime without problem. Not true of a live service game where you either need to hope for a rerelease or hope that the game isn't deleted or altered forever.

Come to think of it, I never actually beat the Co-op missions in Portal 2 either. Now that we know how to change FOV sliders to avoid Mrs. Everwake's nauseous reaction to first person perspectives we may give that a shot this weekend.

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