"Why Portal is perfect"

Oct 12, 2007

Ben Richardson is Content Editor for GamesRadar UK.

The Orange Box is Valve's finest hour. Five triple-A games, one package, muchos satisfaction guaranteed. But it's a special bundle for more than simply its value for money, because The Orange Box contains the world's first ever perfect game: Portal.

If you've read the discussion GamesRadar had with several mag editors, you'll know how most journalists feel about 'perfect' games and 'perfect' scores. Short version - such a thing doesn't exist. But I don't agree. And here's why I reckon Portal is perfection...

It has a perfect... story
I could talk for hours about the brilliance of Portal's story. But the crucial thing is that it gives the game a clearly defined beginning, middle and end. It's a perfect plot. The slowly unravelling mystery gives added weight to your actions, pulls you through each task and brings colour to Portal's world. It elevates it from being just a puzzle game, and turns it into an adventure.

It has a perfect... idea
Portal's quirky warping never once feels held back or shortchanged by some arbitrary rule. In fact, there are moments when I thought "I can't possibly have completed that task in the 'correct' way" because the solution felt so natural. Portal is a totally linear game, but the very definition of freeform gameplay.

The idea is simple - thing goes in here, thing comes out there - but the effect turns your world inside out and upside down. It's such a perfectly realised idea that you can actually break the game, in a way, resulting in a ticking off from your AI over-mistress who's forced into opening the exit herself to let you continue. Every shooter I play from now on will feel trapped and claustrophobic without Portal's warp-hopping aspect.


  • jelmpi - September 28, 2010 8:39 p.m.

    It rocks!
  • Zeb364 - April 25, 2010 11:56 p.m.

    Not sure I agree that it was perfect but I do agree with every other point you make in the article. I'm just not sure those points add up to the "perfect" video game, probably just as close to perfect as you'll ever get. There's always ways to improve, even Valve has tweaked Portal itself. No to mention that their releasing a sequel which they wouldn't be able to do if there was nothing more to add. The perfect game would have nothing left to add.
  • AuthorityFigure - April 24, 2010 8:51 a.m.

    Why was it so difficult to show some of these gorgeous visuals? I'm just seeing FPS pictures that could be from any number of games...
  • A2guy - March 18, 2010 12:10 a.m.

    the only thing that really bugged me about it was how short it was, that's about it.
  • MilesProwerFan - March 17, 2010 11:54 p.m.

    Portal is a fantastic game. I can't wait for Portal 2 or Half-Life 2 Episode 3.
  • gilgamesh310 - March 17, 2010 9:24 p.m.

    It was a good game but not that good. Calling something perfect doesn't make a whole lot of sense anyway. There can always be something better than it and a game that lasts two hours 'perfect' or not isn't going to be all that satisfying or memorable. It's hardly as good as half life 2 is it?
  • Spydie4x4 - March 17, 2010 7:40 p.m.

    The games good... I dont know about perfect lol.
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - March 17, 2010 11:55 a.m.

    I must agree it's one of the best games ever.
  • reaperman22 - March 17, 2010 11:18 a.m.

    portal is one of the few games that i have played more than 2 times through and i only got it about 2 months ago
  • Imgema - March 16, 2010 4:55 p.m.

    Portal is perfect indeed. Now lets see how portal 2 is going to be even better than perfection.
  • cricket0 - December 18, 2008 11:10 p.m.

    I completely agree. I love Portal!

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