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The Orange Box
  opened by paleface at 20:22:28 11/23/07  
  last modified by paleface at 20:30:18 11/23/07  
  paleface [sys=X360; cat=Shooter_3D; loc=NA]
This will be an entirely incomplete review, as out of all of this massive collection of Half-Life 2, two HL2 expansions, Team Fortress 2, and the tech-demoish "Portal," I only played Portal.
Portal is short, and not at all a complete game in its own right. It is, however, fun, funny, and pretty darn unique. It turns the Half-Life 2 engine into a puzzle game by equipping you (eventually) with a gun that projects a space-folding portal into the wall: step into the portal, and you step out through the other side, wherever it may be elsewhere in the level. The designers use this spiffy space-warping effect to construct a series of puzzle stages, set in a weird futuristic training facility with robots and a weird robotic female narrator gone mysteriously awry.
Getting through each fairly brief level involves using the portals to get yourself to the exit, but this is usually complicated by locked doors, defensive drones, obstinate elevators and platforms, and pernicious blocks. Yep, lots of block puzzles. Normally there's little I can't stand less than block puzzles, but the portalling approach at least makes them a new experience. For instance, you may have to jump through a series of hoops to get one portal up on the ceiling above a weight plate, then find the block, drop the other portal under it, and have the block fall through onto the weight plate. And that's about the most bare-bones example; more complex puzzles have to using your falling momentum to plunge through a portal into the floor, and then sling yourself across to a far ledge as you pop out the opposite end of the portal, mounted horizontally on a wall.
This space warping can all get a little confusing, but it's pretty satisfying when you actually figure it out. The levels are short enough that it isn't a tremendous chore to have to re-do one if you screw up, and there's the aforementioned humor to make the pill easier to swallow. The robotic narrator is constantly reassuring you in remarkably un-reassuring language, and the drone bots, for instance, will say silly things when you take advantage of their simplistic sensors to foil their defenses.
It is brief enough, however, that I wouldn't really pick up the full OB collection just for it. If they ever come out with a full standalone Portal-based game like this, though, I'll be all over it.

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