Sunday, April 24, 2011

Trying Not to Think with Portals

Now is the time to bury my head in the sand. Portal 2 is out, and I preordered a copy on Amazon at a nice discount, but the package won't arrive for another few days. Until then, everyone and everything is poised to spoil my experience of the game--YouTube comments, other blogs, even billboards and television, which I'm pleased to say are advertising a video game, which is something I haven't seen since the golden days of the Game Boy Advance.

Sure, I could download Portal 2 and play it right now, but I'm the same way with my video games that Alex is about his comic books--there's something special about having something tangible. So, I shall wait.

I'm generally very anti-spoiler to begin with, but this is a special case. I knew absolutely nothing about the original Portal when I first played it. As I recall, it was just another game packaged in The Orange Box alongside the Half-Life games I was interested in playing. Portal was one of the most perfect gaming experiences I've ever had, and it would have taken something significant away from the experience to have heard all the jokes in advance or be forewarned about some insane puzzles. And so it is with Portal 2, except it's already difficult enough to repress whatever expectations I might have for the game.

I know that the sequel can't possibly be as perfect as the original. The tiny bit that I've seen leads me to believe that there will be teamwork, or escort quests, or something else involving other characters that no FPS has ever done right. Beyond that, Portal's popularity has become almost unmanageable. We were all surprised by the innovation and absurdity that characterized one of the most polished and carefully thought-out games of all time. Fan will demand nothing short of double perfection. Bigger, better, more creative, funnier, and still exactly the same as before. How could anyone hope to pull that off?

So I'm keeping my head buried in the sand for a little while. Hide me from the excitement and the disappointment and the madness. Let me have my experience in the best vacuum I can muster, and then we'll see what the world has to say.

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