The People Are Panning Portal 2

The People Are Panning Portal 2

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.”

Fair complaints?

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.


  • People were disappointed because of the ridiculous amount of hype. It is a very good game, but they were expecting something much more.

    I think that the portal only puzzles at the end of the first game were more inventive than the puzzles using the new mechanics. Not sure about the co-op puzzles, I imagine that they will be a little trickier simply because they require co-ordination.

    I’m not disappointed, once I reset my expectations to a more realistic level I still enjoyed most of what I’ve played so far.

    There aren’t many games where I play almost to the end as soon as I buy them. Portal 2 is one of them, so there must be something right about it.

  • Surely you’d think it’s actually their fault for getting wrapped in the hype. You can’t criticise a game for not meeting your expectations, unless they intentionally release gameplay footage that turns out to be not actually in the game.
    I’m sure some of them are just trolling, but some of it is just unbelievably stupid trolling that’s just embarrassing.

    Also, $45USD for a game, like that’s supposed to be expensive or something. Hahaha.

  • ” Well, they’re free as long as you take into account that the console version costs $US10 more than the PC/Mac version.”

    The reason why I’m paying 10$ less than the console it’s because I’m not getting a physical disc. It’s digital download and I can’t trade it or even sell it. Don’t you think that’s fair?

    • I bought the PS3 version, so for $10 more I now have access to Portal 2 on my PS3, PC and MacBook Air (although I haven’t tested to see if that works yet). I’d say that the bonus gestures don’t factor into the additional value gained by paying extra at all.

    • seeing as the PS3 version uses steam would it not be locked to that account and stop people from selling the disc? or does steam on PS3 work completely differently to the PC steam?

  • Took me just over 4 hours to finish the SP.

    Game feels like a complete rehash of portal 1, was never particularly challenging and the ‘free roam’ part of the single player felt like it was just added in to extend its life span.

    Was really expecting something along the lines of a time attack mode/online leaderboards or just something else less gimicky then having to spend 2 minutes in zoom trying to find the next “portable” wall so you can continue.

    In the end I would have prefered 400 levels straight one after the other increasing in difficulty to the down right insane, instead of all that crap inbetween testing.

  • Angry gamers will be angry.

    And often for little to no justification.

    It just appears to a common occurrence, which may be credited to the large amount of younger gamers, that the gaming community seems to not be able to maintain realistic expectations, and not only that, but it feels like the next logical and direct step is to get angry and give the game a negative.

    Negative from their perspective, which is maladjusted. That’s sort of why untrue and not-fully-thought-out complaints come to surface, people get angry and need good reasons for it.

    Unfortunately, they never seem to find that many.

    • I read a great quote by someone on Rock, Paper, Shotgun that summarises the in-game shop issue for me perfectly: “First they gave me a hat, and I didn’t speak up because I don’t wear hats…”

      This is the gateway drug to game changing DLC, and it demeans Valve. They’re already one of the most profitable privately held companies in the world, certainly in the video game industry, and I can’t fathom who’s pushing this idea. Sure, none of the items are game breaking now, but they’re skating on thin ice, and I can’t see why the small amount of extra profit this may make in the short term is worth the loss of their reputation.

      • Loss of reputation how? Demeaning? What a load of nonsense. They provide the OPTION for people to spend extra money if they WANT to get some cosmetic content.

        Did anyone buy Portal 2 because they were expecting to get an array of hats / skins to wear? No.

        Demeaning would be if they released games that were genuinely lacking in gameplay terms unless you spent extra money on top of a premium price to make it playable/valid.

        Honestly – Any gamer who feels any sort of vitriol towards a developer because they’re offering services other people are enjoying/adopting should probably ask themselves if they’ve got some sort of entitlement complex.

        I am a developer, and I can assure you that while we do note that a little niche of the gaming community may think this way, we also put that part of the community in the “Never happy, so waste energy pandering to them” basket most days.

        If you don’t believe me, think about how many gamers swore they’d never buy another Valve game again after the issues with Steam when Half-Life 2 came out… Valve weren’t stupid enough to take that threat seriously.

        It’s also hysterical when people rationalise things like the idea that $45 is too much for 10 hours of entertainment. Most people spend more than that in a few hours at the pub.

        • “Did anyone buy Portal 2 because they were expecting to get an array of hats / skins to wear? No.”

          Why else would you buy it?

          Hats are portals for my cranium into the realm of warm and dry.

          I don’t know what you’re talking about.

  • I started the co-op last night with my housemate, and it’s the most fun I’ve had playing a co-op based game for a long time.
    Sure it’s nothing “special” but it’s simple (brainbending) addictive fun.

  • It’s the same story as Dragon Age 2 – players with a ridiculous sense of entitlement rage about how terrible a rather good game is – despite the fact it’s so much better than your standard new game released at the same price. They build their own expectations too high, then bomb the review.

    At the end of the day, it’s still a solid game built on today’s tech – if you build your expectations above that, you’ve only got yourself to blame. Really, has Valve ever made a truly bad game?

    • haha DA2 was completely different in my mind, every video and everything they said. Told me that the PC version would be worse than the original and i expected it to me, i just didn’t expect it to be that much worse.

      it’s the single largest taint against the bioware name.

      At least with mass effect 2 which was radically different, to the point where i don’t think it should be classed as an RPG anymore. Just an interactive 3rdPS it was still an great game albeit different from the first.

      where DA2 just wasn’t

      • Actually, Dragon Age 1 & 2 were developed by “Edge of Reality,” Bioware only produced/published it, though that developer is part of Bioware I wouldn’t call it “in-house.”

  • The complaints about originality and length are completely uncalled for… Do people not realise there is going to be user modification tools made available after launch to allow users to create their own puzzles (like LittleBigPlanet).

    Give the game some time, don’t pan it because you played it for 2 hours and it didn’t live up to your “Gabe’s head is up my arse” hype.

  • It does seem like all of this is unjustified but there is one point in there that sticks out.

    “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 skins for the robot’s cost $5? The gestures cost $2 each? $5 I think is kind of ridiculous for a skin and even the gestures though only $2 seems like a crazy price. This is DLC that adds almost nothing to the game and is just there for flavour. It would be like making an RPG where you play a set character, and then charging people if they wanted to customise it, and more for each individual option.

    “If you don’t want then don’t buy” is fair enough but just the fact that they decided to include this DLC and charge for it irks me. But then this is probably the same thing as the crates in TF2 that require purchased keys. This concept would work fine without the requirement to pay money for the keys, but I guess they just want more money.

    • Seems like Valve is getting heavily into the microtransactions as a revenue stream! I wonder do those $5 skins include horse armour!

      Having said that – I will be getting this game (on 360 no less) because the first was excellent and the possibility of split screen play with my kids is fantastic

    • As Jason points out, purchases of these add-ons were originally referred to as “microtransactions” with the intention that the cost would actually be small. Like a few cents small, the sort of thing that you just can’t do with individual credit card purchases.

      Point systems were meant to help this. For example, when the xbox 360 was launching it sounded like you were going to the be able to spend, say, 5 microsoft points on a picture for your gamer card. I’d do that for sure.

      The whole thing broke when they offered things (like horse armour) for dollars rather than cents, and people actually paid for them! So publishers continued creating stuff for prices like $2 and $5, people kept paying for them, and here we are! You can bet that people will pay enough for this Portal 2 DLC to justify their decisions, too.

      I guess my point is that microtransactions are actually a lost opportunity. Being asked to pay a couple of cents for post-release customisations would have been a fantastic step in gaming. Being asked to pay dollars for at release customisations is not.

      Also, shut up with your RPG pay-to-customise idea. People are listening…

      • Hahaha, I wish no-one had ever heard of such an idea but I’m pretty sure the Sims is already doing it with new facial features and hairstyles in their expansion packs. From memory there were items like this for sale on the first day of release, and there were few options in the game itself. Makes you wonder where’s the guy at the development company that said ‘nah, don’t put all the good stuff in, we’ll save some of it for day one DLC’ and why isn’t he getting punched in the crotch.

        I agree with what you say though, xbox live at its start with gamer pictures, themes and nowadays with the avatar clothing could have seen great use of micro-transactions, if they were for amounts people would want to spend. I’m sure they still make pleny of money, they probably have analysts on massive salary’s that tell them that the higher cost will give less sales but is still more profitable.

        The problem is that it leaves us gamers resenting such a system, and the people that do make use of it are made fun of for wasting money on such useless items. If they were only a few cents each I would happily take part. Truly a missed opportunity.

  • Haters gonna hate.

    For me I have nothing bad to say about it. It was everything I wanted and more.

    I guess you cant please everyone but in my opinion its one of the best games ive ever played.

  • People are pissed about a lot of things at the moment

    A) the grindy section of the ARG which was beneficial to australian’s but didn’t deliver it the days earlier people expected

    B)the 36 potato reward was a valve pack+ portal 2. Most people who support valve had these things but the people who didn’t got them free

    so some of these people are pissed they paid 45 dollars for something valve then turned around and gave those who had achieved 36 potatos for free.

    Some In game store credit for the 36 taters would have gone down better

    C) As said the DLC store, its always annoying when theres content in it on day 1 its stuff we could have had for free but weren’t so they could make money(if it had popped up in a month no one would have complained)

    I finished the game in 4 hours but i don’t see that as a negative the game was enjoyable and if portal 1 is any indication i’ll play through it a bunch more times. i also didn’t rush found a couple of secrets lying off the beaten path and got a good chunk of their achievements.

    Haven’t played co-op yet but even if thats another hour or 2(which from all indications its not) it’s still longer than games like cod etc.

    There are signs of consoleitis though.

    when saving it can say don’t turn off your console. the terrible FOV. The constant load screens which is a staple of the source engine but they were always presented better and normally had much more content. Compared to the later areas its clear that the first section could have had 2 tests per loading instead of 1

    • Good points on A and B, but why is point C annoying? You even go on to point out that if it was held back a month, nobody would complain.

      I guess as a developer, it’s a bit brain-popping that gamers take offence at us trying to find ways to make money. If it were paying extra to get say the best play mode available for the game – Then I’d understand completely.

      I just wish some of these gamers would consider how intensely princessy it is to complain for not just being given everything because it’s physically possible. They cry way more than say a little girl who doesn’t get the whole back-catalogue of outfits when they get a new Barbie doll.

  • Dunno what they’re smoking, I pumped 5 hours into single player and co-op, and loved every second. The SP moreso than the first, and co-op is just perfect for Portal.. it’s so much better when you both get that “Ahh!” moment of figuring out a puzzle.

    I think it’s just blatant pathetic trolling rather than people being serious, Portal 2 is the best game I’ve played in a long time, I’m certainly enjoying it more than Dead Space 2, which is exactly the same as the first.

  • Maybe the user reviews were submitted by people who aren’t in the US and aren’t paying 60 dollars for the game.

    Also, why is the author leaping to the defence of the game… isn’t reporting supposed to be impartial?

    I note there has been no comment from Valve, so maybe we can wait for a response before getting into it… but maybe the five hour campaign is now becomming the industy standard.

  • I really wish age was factored in
    to the reporting and understanding of criticisms of DLC. There is a huge difference between an entitled 14-year old with no job, bank acc or credit card, and a mature adult with an income and those payment options, yet everyone seems to treat the opinions of both parties as if they have the same level of merit.

    I remember when I was an early teenager with no money, and things that seemed very difficult to buy or obtain back then are a breeze now.

    It just really bothers me that mature gamers are lumped in with dumb adolescents under the label of “players of (game)”, thus making it appear as though we’re giving Portal 2 a 4.7 on metacritic when it’s actually mostly just stupid kids.

    • How do you know it’s kids though? I still don’t think it’s kids, it’s pointless trolls. NOTHING warrants Portal 2 getting a 4.7 score, regardless of length, it’s still amazing. Even kids can see that. Trolls however, do not care.

  • Well they were expecting the second coming, though how that would end well is beyond me. Maybe they just wanted a handshake from Jesus.

    Anyway I didn’t finish Portal 2 in one night, not like MW 2. I’m loving it, loving every second in Portal 2, loving GLaDOS(please don’t neurotoxin me), Wheatley seems really out of place with his personality and quick chatter, though I hated the pre-recorded messages at the start. Hated with a passion. Then when I met GLaDOS again the world was right, I was contributing to science, risking life and limb to further the cause.

    But getting back on track, Portal 2 is a damn great sequel, production values are top notch, sound and music is great, there’s more GLaDOS, there’s even more cake! Really! Alright it’s a door that says cake… but hey, cake! And if you’re quick you may even see a deer.

    Portal 2 will get through the metacritic storm no problemo, unlike Dragon Age 2, it’s a proper sequel.

  • I’m just stunned that everyone is wondering why people aren’t giving this an amazing rating. What did they expect? After only introducing a few new aspects into puzzles from portal 1, of course people are going to fly through content that seems very familiar.

    In this day and age no matter how pretty/funny/clever a game is, every game needs to have longevity or re-playability. I loved portal 1, no problems with the length, because I bought the orange box for TF2 and Half Life 2 which I didnt own. So it was an unexpected surprise when I got around to playing it.

    When developers think they can start getting away with charging $50 for a 4 hour (10 hours max) of gameplay there’s an issue.

    I mean seriously, there have been games of pong that lasted longer then the lifespan of this game.

  • I think this is probably the case of the last straw. Just look at any 1st person shooter these days and point to ones with decent campaign lengths, they are a rarity. Its also usually the games that have the most hype that lead to the shortest gameplay levels (wonder what they spent the budget on). I loved the first portal when it came with the rest of the pack, thus was a great buy, but $50 for this, sorry Gabe, I’ll wait for the sale.

    As for the DLC, aren’t day of release DLC usually just skins anyway (majority is).

    • Just to answer your comment about the campaign length – That’s the price of improved visual quality. Making scripted single player campaigns is VERY time consuming in terms of man hours, and thus, incredibly expensive for developers to make.

      It was a bit of the case of the industry shooting itself in the foot – The rush to raise the bar has resulted in HUGE cost increases, but for similar sales figures. This is why countless studios have closed since the GFC.

      The general approach is – Better to give the player 10 hours of quality than 30+ hours of padded, repetitive stuff for the sake of it.

      Also – Really respect your take on purchasing now or later. To those who are bitching about the paid DLC, stop bitching, don’t buy it, and it’ll go down in price when nobody else is buying it either… Just like the game itself will too.

  • Ahem.. on a bit of a different point..

    Can we add, or download user skins/maps/mods and easily add them in?

    Whats really irking me is when they make a cheap grab like this, then go out of their way to make user made content inaccessible.

    Makin some extra cash out of skins, hella cheap, tacky, gotta agree.
    And tbh I was expecting more from this game also, at least in terms of play time, so this will be a bargin bin purchase for me.

    I think DLC is at its best when it adds to a game thats already been out for a while.
    It not only refreshes the franchise without a full new release, it gives fans replay value.

    This is dlc done wrong, and content not fitting expectation or full price I dont think.

    4/5 hours core? Exactly how long till DLC gets released?

  • pretty sure last night someone on 4chan(either /b/ or /v/) was like lets mark down portal 2, but dont give it a 0 because the moderators will just delete it give it an average mark and say some bad and good things about it, so maybe thats why its got so many bad reviews?

  • The average Portal 2 user review:

    “Portal 2 was all [sensationalised comment on marketing]! I expected [gameplay mechanic or concept that was never hinted at by the developer or marketing direction] and all I got was [standard evolution of gameplay seen in most sequels] and [expected gameplay in a puzzle game]! I can’t believe I paid [lower price than the average new game] for this! Plus they had that stupid [unique and interactive marketing technique] which costs me an extra [completely optional discounted price for several other enjoyable games]! It’s only took me [twice the length of the original game] to finish, and the [brand new multiplayer mode that fans requested] is ruined by the ridiculous [optional cosmetic cash store based on the popular Team Fortress 2 model]! From now on I’m [boycotting/pirating] Valve’s future games! I give Portal 2 [lowest score possible]!”

  • Gotta love Valve fans. It’s like the uncanny valley of expectations: because they’re one of the more benevolent (for lack of a better word) developers, a disappointingly large portion of the audience rile themselves up to the point of orgasm in anticipation of the magnum opus of human history, then pick away at every tiny sort-of-but-not-at-all-flaw they can in order to justify the failure of their own expectations, not the game itself. I don’t know what exactly it is Valve promised that they failed to deliver on. I found it to be a great gameplay experience with a great story, amazing characters and stunningly vast environments, and I haven’t even touched co-op yet.

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