Portal 2 is getting rave reviews from critics (including from us), but it is getting torn to bits by angry gamers over at the review aggregation site Metacritic. The Game of the Year? Not according to furious fans who have saddled the game with an average review score of 4.7 out of 10.
They're pissed, and they say they have good reason.
"This game is not worth the hype at all," raged one gamer on Metacritic. "The way Valve has been pushing this I was expecting the second coming of Christ but instead I got a niche, 4 hour long minigame. Worst of all is the cash shop... as if the $US45 price tag for the game alone isn't enough."
Another groused: "I paid $US45 for a full game, but what I got was a stripped-down game and the "opportunity" to buy the $US80 worth of DLC [downloadable content]they have available on release day."
Here are some facts:
1) The game is short, but it's not a mere four hours long, as its critics are charging. The single-player campaign lasted about nine hours for me, though others may burn through it more briskly. A separate co-op campaign will exceed five hours for most gamers playing it the first time, bringing the overall playing hours easily over 10. The game costs $US60 on Xbox 360 and PS3, $US50 on PC and Mac, so you can judge whether the price is too high for that many hours. The quality of that time has to count for something, of course. Fans may be smarting from the reality that Portal 2, as a puzzle game, may be no more fun to play through a second time than solving a crossword puzzle again. (The game does include hidden easter eggs and comprehensive developer commentary to freshen up a return visit.)
2) The PC and Mac versions do include an in-game DLC store. This store is inaccessible in the Xbox 360 version (we're checking the PS3 version once we get our hands on it). All of the DLC is cosmetic and will visually alter the robots you can control in co-op. None grants a player a gameplay advantage or shortcut. The items cost a total of $US85.64 though can be purchased in a bundle for $US34.99. The items range from 16 $US2 co-op gestures (the Atlas Faceplam, for example) to $US5 skins for your robot .
The console version of Portal 2 includes eight unlockable free gestures in its co-op campaign. Well, they're free as long as you take into account that the console version costs $US10 more than the PC/Mac version.
The 16 gestures for the PC version are listed in the in-game's store, $US2 a pop. Note the same Atlas disco ball icon in this store and in the console version, a sign that some of what's in the console version appears to cost money in the PC game.
The anti-Portal 2 gamers also complain that the new game is unoriginal and graphically unimpressive. Some seethe with the theory that Valve focused on making the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, porting them to PC and Mac. We're checking with Valve about whether the porting theory is true, though in terms of the game's visuals and degree of originality, we must refer you again to our review. (For those afraid to click: I thought the game's visual design was superb and surprisingly lively; I didn't mind that the story wasn't as surprising as the first game's.)
Portal 2 will probably be ok, despite the Metacritic slams. Some of the barbs thrown at it may prove to be unjustified; others, especially the concerns about over-priced DLC, may stick. This game is better than a 4.7, but buyer beware if you're concerned about playing time or annoyed about how game companies try to profit from the kind of in-game garnish that used to be free or, in the minds of some, simply should be.
Metacritic image via NeoGAF.