Joey Davidson and Mike White sat down and plowed through the cooperative side of Valve’s latest offering, Portal 2. What resulted was several hours of them feeling both frustrated and randomly pleased with themselves.
But does this cooperative portion of Portal 2 make it one of the best games this pair has played in a long time? Here we go…
Joey: I absolutely adored the cooperative portion of Portal 2. Don’t get me wrong, the single player campaign was absolutely stunning, but the cooperative portion brought with it an entirely brilliant set of puzzles that forced us to think as a team. Bravo for Valve, as far as I’m concerned.
One thing, and then I’ll let Mike here run off on his segment… You need a headset to make the cooperative nonsense work. Valve gives you a few indicators and timers to compensate for the communication barrier, but if you can’t talk to your partner, you’re in for an epic round of frustration. Headsets, mandatory, believe it.
Mike: As much as I agree that communication is the key to success here, Joey and I weren’t very good at it. Valve sets you and your partner up with the necessary tools to coordinate with each other. You can project a target onto a surface to indicate where you’d like the other person to place their portal, as well as set off an on-screen countdown to synchronize your actions. On the Xbox version, pressing ‘Y’ brought up a small display screen, showing you what your partner was currently looking at.
Even with our fancy headsets and in-game arsenal, most levels started in silence as we pondered what was laid out in front of us. Then the nonsensical insults and incoherent screams began. Within minutes we would be at the end of the level exchanging “I told you so's" and “you’re so dumb's."
But yes, I agree with Joey. Without actually being able to talk to one another, there would have been no hope at all.
Joey: The story in the co-op ties in to the actual story for the single player game, but not in a way that divulges spoiler capable plot points. So you’re left with a super light story for the co-op portion that’s capable of standing up on its own and giving way to the gameplay within the puzzles themselves. Which are all great.
Each section adds new puzzle mechanics that slowly evolve until we were wracking our brains trying to solve and time our options. Some puzzles took near 20 minutes of flushed thinking to solve, and that added to the rewards paid once we flew towards the exit. Another set piece here that made the co-op campaign a pure winner for me: GLaDOS’ constant ribbing. She was hilarious.
Mike: Oh, GLaDOS. I had missed you so much. Your calm voice always reassures me that I’ll be safe under your careful guidance. Or I might fall off a light bridge to my death, but that’s OK. I’m a robot, after all.
Lucky for us, utter destruction is only temporary in the co-op missions. We died… a lot. There were times when I found myself incapable of navigating a jump properly. Most times I found myself incapable of not shutting a door while Joey was walking through it or removing a portal which enabled the bridge Joey was standing on. Trial and error is your weapon of choice and god damn is it fun, fun, fun.
[Editor's Note] – If you missed our review of the single player portion of Portal 2, you can read it right here.