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Monday, December 3, 2007

It's so delicious and moist!

The cake was indeed a lie. I discovered this simple fact at 1:15 AM on Saturday morning. And I have to say: it was the best cake I've never had!

Portal takes the puzzle genre of game in an exciting new direction. If you think you have a solid grasp of spatial problems and simple physics, I say prove it! Portal will put your noggin to the test with 20 levels of pure, unadulterated mind and space bending puzzles.

Things start off fairly simple. And, in fact, Portal really doesn't get too hard until about level 13. And that's when the real fun begins. After learning new skills and honing them in levels 0 through 12, levels 13 through 18 force you to put your money where your mouth is.

And just when you think you're the new king of portal hopping, level 19 will take you on an incredible and challenging journey to the Portal's most excellent climax.

I honestly can't say enough about this game. It was a lot of fun and just hard enough to challenge me without forcing me to look online for hints. And though some might consider the following a spoiler, the end-credits song is awesome! Catchy, funny, and positively enchanting - you can't help but find yourself humming or singing this song even days after hearing it.

Here are Portal's end credits for those who've finished Portal or for those who don't plan on playing Portal (why not?!). If you plan on playing the game, I urge you not to watch the video if simply for sheer enjoyment's sake.

After completing Portal, a whole slew of new modes are unlocked for play. There are time challenges, "least portal" challenges, and the soon-to-be-legendary Advanced challenges. The advanced challenges take six of the original Portal levels and make them damn-near impossible to beat without a lot of practice and some fairly mad "skillz".

As you'll see from the achievements I unlocked over the weekend, I've managed to clear a few of the Advanced maps. I have to admit that I did look online for a hint to clear a particularly tricky bit in Advanced Level 15. If you've played Portal, you'll know exactly where I got stuck because you probably got stuck there too! I'm currently on Level 16 and quite stuck as well, though nowhere near as badly as I was on the previous Advanced level.

In addition to beating Portal, I also put on my Gordon Freeman mask this weekend and played a little Half-Life 2. For the record, I got stuck in that game too. It seems that years of console gaming have dulled my game instincts to the point where even the simplest of PC game puzzles are enough to warp my fragile little mind.

Without further ado, I give you my weekend's achievements:

Partygoer [5 GamerPoint]: I picked up this achievement on level 19 of Portal. When given the option to select my favourite party escort submission position, I'm happy to say that I chose wisely. I won't spoil the surprise for those of you who haven't played the game: suffice it to say that survival is key to making the correct decision.

Heartbreaker [10 GamerPoint]: I unlocked the Heartbreaker achievement when I finished the game. If you've played Portal, you know why this achievement is called Heartbreaker. If you haven't played Portal, why not? Buy it here and start playing already!

Cupcake [10 GamerPoint]: Yay! I finished the first two Advanced level maps without any help from anyone! It may not seem like that great an accomplishment to those who haven't played Portal but trust me: it is! The Advanced mode levels are extremely tough and, if advanced levels 15 and 16 are any indication, they are only getting tougher. It may be a while before I unlock any more of these advanced-level achievements.

Terminal Velocity [5 GamerPoint]: Make an orange portal in the ceiling, a blue portal on the floor and start flying. This achievement took about ten minutes of free-falling from one portal to the other. An easy 5 gamer points as long as you remember to avoid watching the screen while completing it: those who suffer from motion sickness will want to look away.

Barnacle Bowling [5 GamerPoint]: I love unlocking surprise achievements and Barnacle Bowling falls into this category. I was making my way through some sewers in Half-Life 2. There was a downward slope that I had to navigate; unfortunately, a number of "barnacles" were hanging in the way. There was a flammable cannister nearby so I sent it rolling down the slope. When one of the barnacles grabbed the cannister and proceeded to lift it towards its gaping maw, I gave the cannister a few gentle pops with my revolver and boom! Achievement unlocked!

Anchor's Aweigh [5 GamerPoint]: After navigating through sewers and radioactive dumping grounds, Gordon Freeman finally met a nice young lass guarding an airboat. The friendly woman was kind enough to lend Gordon the airboat; Half-Life 2 was kind enough to give me 5 gamer points!

I'll try and play a little more Half-Life 2 tonight and perhaps some more Portal. I'm currently on Advanced Level 16 in Portal and completing this level will unlock another achievement for me. However, I'm leaning towards Half-Life 2 right now because I've just arrived at some rebel base and I'm anxious to see what happens next!