So I’m currently playing through Portal 2. I finished the single player campaign and am now moving on to co-op (assuming I can convince some poor sap to play it with me). I have to say, this game is probably the best example of good writing in video games that I’ve ever seen. The dialogue is consistently hilarious throughout, and the story moves at the perfect pace. Plus, the characters have a surprising amount of depth to them, which is quite a feat considering the only real characters in the game other than yourself are two artificial intelligence constructs and a series of voice recordings of a man who died decades earlier. Sprinkle in some top-notch music and voice talent, and Portal 2 shows exactly why video games can be every bit as mentally engaging as a good movie or book.
For an example of the witty dialogue in the game, here’s a small clip. I posted some of this as a Facebook status not long ago, and it was interesting seeing who understood the joke and who didn’t.
WARNING: Spoilers ahoy!
Up to this point in the game, you’ve been trying to escape from this facility with the help of a british-sounding AI construct named Wheatley. All the while, another AI, named GLaDOS, has been trying to capture you to make you run through more of her tests like a lab rat. So Wheatley eventually leads you to GLaDOS’ main chamber, where you defeat her and insert Wheatley into her place to give him control of the facility and help you escape. However, the power drives him mad, and he immediately decides he no longer wants to help you. Instead, he places GLaDOS processor into a potato (it’s stated earlier in the game that the facility’s AI units can operate in post-apocalyptic power environments of as little as 1.1 volts, which a potato battery can provide), then drops you and her down a seemingly endless shaft. Here is the dialogue that ensues between you and GLaDOS:
And just for fun, here’s Portal in real life.
Okay, I’m done talking about Portal… for now.