|System: PS3, X360, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Valve||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 14, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Rounding out the Orange Box is one of the most unique games that I've played in a while. Portal is a game which gives the unnamed protagonist the ability to create portals through space. While initially you can only create one portal, you'll get the ability to create an entry point and exit point quickly in the game. The fun in Portal comes from the different applications that present themselves by creating these portals. Your protagonist can fire a portal across the room and create another portal at her feet and cross the stage by jumping in the hole, and this is one of the simpler applications of the portal gun.
You will eventually find yourself jumping into portals from high ledges and using the momentum to shoot across gaps from a strategically positioned portal on the wall, or walking through a portal into a drop, or manipulating energy balls by guiding them through the use of the eponymous portals. The game, entertaining as it is, is made much moreso by the computerized voice that "guides" you through the various tests the game throws at you. The further you progress, the more humorous the comments the voice makes, including comments on an interesting bond created with a "buddy" cube, promises to award you with cake at the game's completion, and even apologies about the next test being unsolvable. The game culminates in a unique "boss battle" that is very well done if a little easy, and closes with the best and funniest ending song ever included in a game. Portal is a relatively short game, but is undeniably a gem and a great treat. Fleshed out with more stages and more options, Portal may have stood on its own two feet as a standalone game.
In addition to the games, The Orange Box also gives developer commentaries on some of the games and an unprecedented 99 different achievements across the five games, which are sorted in-game depending on which title you're playing. While there are frequent load times, none of them last more than four or five seconds and are tolerable, unlike Half Life 2's Xbox iteration.
Ultimately, The Orange Box is one of the best deals in gaming. All five games that are offered are a blast to play, and if Portal and Team Fortress 2 were fleshed out a little more, they could easily stand on their own. However, most gamers will not be angry at Valve for packaging all of the games together, giving a nearly complete Half Life 2 experience (which could have only been made better by the inclusion of the original), a multiplayer game, and a puzzle game, all for the price of one next gen title. It would be hard to find a better deal anywhere and you definitely won't be disappointed by what is in the Box.
CCC Lead Contributor / News Director